Automating Updates

From a security standpoint, it is vital to keep the software on any internet-connected computer updated. Updates are routinely rolled out to patch vulnerabilities. If you’re in a Windows environment, updates for Microsoft will automatically come to you on the second Tuesday of every month and you’ll be able to go through the install with only a modicum of intervention. Modern browsers like Firefox and Chrome have become self-patching. A lot of software is not as predictable or forward-thinking, however, and requires due diligence from the user to monitor and patch it (and then there’s software like Java, which can’t be patched frequently enough to make it safe, and should not be installed on an internet-connected computer unless it absolutely has to be).

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to check and update more than 90 of the most popular programs all at once using an installer from Ninite.

Ninite prides themselves on being “The Easiest, Fastest Way to Update or Install Software” and I see no reason to quibble with them on this. It should be noted that they do offer both a Pro and a more feature-rich Updater option for modest fees if your needs exceed what I’m covering today.

The process is simple: go to their website, select all of the apps you’re interested in, and then click the big green Get Installer button.

niniteMenu

Ninite will then create a file for you to download. When executed, this file will install every application you selected, completely free from additional clicks, unwanted toolbars or bloatware, or any sort of signup process. If you already have any of the programs installed, it will check to make sure they’re up-to-date, and will automatically update them if they aren’t.

Now that you’ve downloaded your installer, it’s time to use Windows Task Scheduler to automate your updates by following these simple steps:

  1. Open your Start menu by clicking on the Windows orb.
  2. Type task scheduler into the “Search programs and files” search box.
  3. Select Task Scheduler from the results list or simply hit Enter to open Task Scheduler.taskScheduler
  4. Under Actions click Create Basic Task… (rightmost column)
  5. You will now be prompted to name and describe your task; call it something informative like Ninite Updater. Click Next.
  6. Next you get to set a trigger. Weekly would be a good time-based trigger; if this is for a machine that’s administratively locked down for guest usage, you can set the trigger for whenever you log in with your administrative account. Click Next.
  7. If necessary, finish configuring the triggering event.
  8. Next you’ll get to select the action to be triggered. Choose Start a program from the list and click Next.
  9. The program you want to run is the Ninite installer you downloaded earlier (if you don’t recall the where you saved the file, Browse for Ninite. Ignore the optional items and click Next.
  10. Click Finish. You’re done!

(This article was adapted from an article I’d originally written for this issue of The Good Stuff – PDF).

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2 responses to “Automating Updates

  1. Pingback: Spring Cleaning Computers (of Malware) | Field Notes

  2. Pingback: Increasing Security on Public Access Computers with EMET | Field Notes

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