What is the difference between Software Patching and Updates?

Have you heard the term software “patching” or “patches” in conversations on IT and been confused about its meaning?
While updates often include fixes for multiple features in the software, patches are targeted updates to address specific security vulnerabilities. Patching is important to maintain security between larger software updates, which could include updates for security but also aspects like performance.

Regularly installing both when released by software vendors is important to maintaining a healthy and secure system. New updates will often be available for download on a vendor’s website, allowing you to manually install the update. However, when installing software you may be able to select to have it updated automatically. Using this option ensures that you receive updates or patches as soon as possible.

Updating Safely

Use these software update best practices to ensure you stay safe during the process:

  • Enable automatic updates whenever possible.
  • When manually installing an update, always do so from the software vendor’s site, never from a link in an email.
  • Only install updates while connected to a trusted network such as at work or home.

Following these steps closes vulnerabilities that might otherwise be targeted and exploited.

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