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Patch Management Definition & Meaning

Patch management is the process of managing software updates—or patches—for software applications or systems. Patches may be administered to fix bugs, address security issues, or improve the general operation of a software system. Instead of installing patches on every device running a software application, software developers typically release patches on a central server so that updates go out to all devices using the app.

If you use a smartphone, you have probably had to update at least some of the apps on your device from time to time. Some of these updates will be scheduled software version updates from the app developer, and some updates will be patches for ad hoc bugs, slowdowns, or security holes. Software developers use patch management to decide how, when, where, and what to patch to keep from interrupting an app’s service or availability.

What goes into patch management?

If done improperly, software patches can fix some problems and create new ones. This is why developers should release patches carefully, following a certain protocol. In general, patch management includes some form of the following steps:

  • Identifying the issue and devising a solution
  • Writing object code for the patch
  • Testing the patch in a sandbox environment
  • Approving the patch and writing the code documentation
  • Releasing the patch to users
  • Monitoring the release for any issues that may arise following installation

Some developers use their own version of the above process while others use a patch management software solution to help define the process and even automate certain aspects of patch management.

What are the best patch management software solutions?

There are many patch management software solutions available to developers. Here are some of the most popular systems:

  • Syxsense Manage
  • NinjaRMM
  • Solarwinds Patch Manager
  • Automox
  • ConnectWise Automate
  • Paessler PRTG Network Monitor
  • ManageEngine Patch Manager Plus
  • Itarian Patch Manager
  • GFI LanGuard
  • SysWard

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