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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Windows Update alternatives

Third-party software update services:
1) Shavlik Patch Google Gadget
2) Secunia's Personal Software Inspector
a) Secunia Online Software Inspector (OSI)
b) Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI)(standalone updater)
3) Belarc Advisor

1)Shavlik Patch Google Gadget
This tool has correctly identified many programs that Microsoft's own updaters got wrong. It is advisable to uninstall Google Desktop each time you finished using the Shavlik update tool and reinstalled it only when the time came to check for patches again. This is about Google Desktop's use of your PC's resources as well as its annoying news pop-ups. Once you've installed the Shavlik Patch Google Gadget, click Begin Scan. When the scan is done, choose View details, accept the product's EULA (the first time you use it), and install any of the patches the program offers you — except WGA.
Shavlik Patch Google Gadget download page.

2)Secunia's Personal Software Inspector
a) Secunia Online Software Inspector (OSI) online version of Secunia's software-update service lets you scan your system for security patches without your having to install anything. Unfortunately, the service requires Java to run and doesn't work well within the new Internet Explorer 8, although you could try running the service in IE 8's compatibility mode. More importantly, OSI sometimes generates inconsistent results, requiring that you scan your system repeatedly. Secunia Online Software Inspector (OSI) PAGE

b) Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI) standalone updater is more robust than the firm's online scanner. In addition, the installed updater constantly checks your PC to determine whether your software is fully patched. If you use PSI, it is recommended that you run Secunia's OSI online scan in addition to PSI, just to double-check the standalone scanner's results. Download - Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI)

Secunia's Personal Software Inspector Features:
# Detects insecure versions of common/popular programs installed on your PC
# Verifies that all Microsoft patches are applied
# Assists you in updating, patching, and protecting your PC
# Activates additional security features in Sun Java
# Runs through your browser. No installation or download is required

3) Belarc Advisor provides information on all the software on your PC, including serial numbers and key codes. It also lists all hardware installed and other information about your system. Belarc reports only on missing Microsoft patches. If you're looking for a tool that updates only Windows and Microsoft apps, this program may be the only updater you need. However, anyone looking for a tool that identifies out-of-date third-party software should use one of the updaters described above. Download Belarc Advisor from the developer's site.

Whichever third-party updater you choose, be sure to run it on all your PCs within a few days of each Patch Tuesday — the second Tuesday of the month — when Microsoft releases new patches.

If you prefer, you can run Redmond's own Microsoft Update and then follow that scan with a Shavlik or Secunia scan to catch patches needed for non-Microsoft applications.

But today, third-party scanning programs have progressed to the point where they can keep all your Microsoft software and all your major non-Microsoft software safely patched. That's something Microsoft Update can't match.

How to patch without running WGA validation

The following steps will allow you to install all Windows security patches on a new build of XP, without installing or running WGA on the machine:

* Step 1: Install and activate XP. For XP SP2 only (not XP SP3), you must also download and install the patch described in KB article 898461, which updates the installer program and ensures that your system will receive future updates.

* Step 2: In either version of XP, click Start, Control Panel, Security Center, Automatic Updates. Choose Download updates for me, but let me choose when to install them.

* Step 3: Whenever you see a yellow-shield icon in the notification area (previously known as the system tray), click the icon and then choose Custom install.

* Step 4: Scroll to the bottom of the patch window and uncheck Windows Genuine Advantage Notification (KB905474), as shown in Figure 1. (For more info, see Microsoft KB article 905474 to read the company's description of WGA Notification.)

Uncheck KB905474 to prevent WGA from being installed on the system.

* Step 5: After you click Install, check Don't notify me about these updates again in the resulting dialog to prevent WGA from being included in future Windows updates (see Figure 2). Click OK.

Don't be offered WGA in the future. From this point forward, every time you update your system, review the patches being offered to you and deselect those you don't want before proceeding with the installation.

If you've already installed WGA on XP but no longer want it, you must remove the so-called patch KB905474. In KB article 921914, Microsoft provides manual removal instructions only for the "pilot" versions of WGA Notifications: 1.5.0527.0 through 1.5.0532.2. The article says higher-numbered "release" versions cannot be uninstalled.

Note that without WGA, you can't download Windows Defender, Windows Media Player 11, Network Diagnostics tools, and other Windows extras. Microsoft describes the products that are affected by WGA on its Genuine Microsoft Software page.

If you enable Automatic Updates the WGA Notifications patch as described in KB article 905474 automatically installs empowering to act without permission. In that case, you either have to run the WGA tool the next time you reboot or press Cancel every time you start.

Related Post: AutoPatcher Comeback

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