Check For Updates For Every Program On Your PC

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While systems such as Microsoft Update are useful (indeed essential) to ensure that you've always got the latest patches for Windows, you're probably also running loads of non-Microsoft programs on your computer.  And, chances are, not all of them have a built-in facility to check for updates.

Which is why you really should consider installing something like Secunia PSI (Personal Software Inspector).  It's a Windows program that searches for all the software installed on your computer, and then checks whether any updates are available.  

The program's recommended setting is to automatically install any updates that it finds.  Personally, I think that's a little more risky than I'm comfortable with, so during my tests I chose the option to merely notify me of any out-of-date programs.  This worked perfectly, and allowed me to make a decision about whether to update and, if so, how.

Secunia PSI is free.  It's a 5 MB download and is malware-free according to Web of Trust and VirusTotal.  It runs on Windows XP and above, and worked perfectly on my machine running Windows 8.1 Update.  

You'll find Secunia PSI at http://secunia.com/vulnerability_scanning/personal/

My thanks to reader Tom Whyte for recommending this to me.  If there's a great free Windows program that you think I should be writing about in this column, please drop me an email to gizmo@schifreen.com with simply the name or URL of the program. I'll do the rest.

 

 

 

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Comments

Thank you everyone for recommaending SUMo :)
http://www.kcsoftwares.com/?sumo

Indeed, sometimes I get annoyed that a update can so radically alter programs I use, i.e., a browser I liked until the last update. I sincerely hope I wont get afoul of forum rules, but it is freeware so, Mozilla Firefox's last update was a major disappointment to me.

I used Secunia PSI a few years ago, while it does a reasonably good job, It's heavy on resourses, and some pc manufacturers use it as "burn in" software.

Actually I decided to give it another chance to secunia (i've used long time ago) and it is totally disappointing. It's very slow (almost unresponsive) and finds very few updated compered to SUMO and Software Informer.
I clicked on updating flash shockwave it took ages to finish.
Decided to uninstall it once more and never try again.

So which programs did Secunia not find that SUMO and Software Informer did? Without this information, such comments are pretty meaningless. MC - Site Manager.

I've tried SUMO, Secunia, File Hippo, and Software Informer (http://software.informer.com/) and find SUMO and Software Informer the best.
File Hippo find few updates and Secunia is confusing and heavy.

I have been using SUMO for about the past 8 months and it is fairly useful.It sometimes presents a false postive and the software download sites it directs you to often don't have the exact version referenced (particularly if you are seeking a beta upgrade). You can of course go directly to the developers website and get needed upgrades from there so this is only a minor inconvenience.

Many thanks for this one Rob. I have been using File Hippo on a weekly basis but was always disappointed that it only found/checked 18 programs although I have 74 listed in Control Panel/Programs & Features, but Secunia found 87 (which were all up to date btw).

I realise that some of these are Windows system items and things like .NET versions but it is still satisfying to know they have all been checked. The program even covered some portable apps like 7-Zip which are located in my User folder, so kudos for that too.

I have now created a scheduled task for the program to run on a weekly basis and will be interested to see how it performs as time goes on.

A program updater which is just as good or better is SUMo Software Update Monitor :
http://www.kcsoftwares.com/?sumo

Secunia won't check every program, but it does check quite a few. I used to use Secunia but quit for reasons I don't remember. I now use the FileHippo Update Checker which I am happy with. (It also doesn't check every program, and it might check fewer than Secunia, I don't know.) With FileHippo you can tell it to ignore or suggest beta versions if they exist.

I've noticed sometimes FileHippo (and maybe Secunia?) isn't always in agreement with the software company itself. For example, FileHippo was telling me about a newer version of Skype, but when I would go into Skype and have it update itself, Skype would say that I was using the most recent version. I tend to believe that Skype knows better about its own updates than FileHippo.

In other situations, you might not want the newest version of something. Like Sid in Extremis said, sometimes a new version removes features. Sometimes the new version might be buggy and you want to hold off for awhile. Sometimes the new version might require a new license and you want to stick with the version you paid for. I use FileHippo to tell me what's available, and then I decide case by case.

Updating programs can be useful BUT they can make errors. It is always worth checking that you really do want the suggested update. For instance, users of a well known AV program may recently have noticed that it suggested updating 7-zip to a Beta release.

I use Secunia but always check, just occasionally an update can remove functionality that you need or introduce features you really don't want (I won't say which browser has recently annoyed a lot of people by doing just that).