How-To Geek

The Best Tools to Check for Windows Software Updates – Analysis Report

Apps that check for updates for your favorite Windows software are becoming more popular, but are they actually good and if so which ones work the best? The folks over at the 7 Tutorials blog have analysed seven different popular update checkers and report on their effectiveness for the Windows programs chosen, performance, and where they fall short.

The analysis report makes for interesting reading and you will have a much better idea on which ones to choose (and avoid) if you are considering this type of software to keep your system updated.

The Best Tools to Check for Software Updates [Digital Citizen]

Akemi Iwaya is a devoted Mozilla Firefox user who enjoys working with multiple browsers and occasionally dabbling with Linux. She also loves reading fantasy and sci-fi stories as well as playing "old school" role-playing games. You can visit her on Twitter and .

  • Published 01/27/12

Comments (18)

  1. dima

    My opinion on any software or driver updater apps – they are junk, I avoid them. I update apps that I want to keep up to date manually. And drivers, besides video, almost never need to be updated unless something is not working.

  2. Liam

    Nice article, thanks for pointing it out. I have tried Secundia, but it tended to point out software that I needed to buy to get the latest version, not just the latest update for the version I owned.
    I have used FileHippo for a few years now and it has been a great resource. It quickly points out patches for a number of paid and free software.
    One extra benefit is that you can run it as web app if you don’t want to install anything.
    Finally, it is a great resource for finding new programs (I learned about the K-Lite codec pack by visiting the site).

  3. ihateheadcrabs

    I keep up with all updates without any additional software thanks to Softpedia. You can subscribe (I think they changed the name of it to “follow”) to any application in their database (which is quite big) and as soon as the program is updated you will receive an email notification.

  4. LadyFitzgerald

    I love Secundia PSI. I rarely have problems with it. It works in the background, automatically running periodic scans, without slowing my computer. It saves me a lot of work. Once in a blue moon, it will report an application or file within an application that is compromised but there is no update for at the time. If I can live without the application, I delete it until it has been batched. Otherwise, I just live with it and be careful. This has happened only twice in the past two or three years.

  5. Dark Reality

    I just use Ninite. It doesn’t do drivers, but it does runtimes like .NET, Flash, Silverlight, and Java. I think there are a couple others. It also doesn’t check my browser (Pale Moon) but it checks my wife’s (Firefox) and it checks other apps. It also installs them if they’re not there, so following a reformat/reinstall, it’s my next stop.

    That’s not really what was asked for, but the fact that it works silently, for the most part, and automatically opts out of toolbars and such, goes a long way towards its usefulness.

  6. YB

    I prefer Ninite

    or FileHippo Update Checker

    Although the filehippo update checker requires .NET Framework 2.0

  7. Charlie

    I’ve been using Secunia PSI for years. Runs in the background and does’t use a lot of resources.
    It’s a great comfort to know all my applications are up-to-date with all recent patches, especially security patches.
    Love It !

  8. Anonymous

    You’re just asking for malware installs if you use any of this junk – or worse!

    Update your apps manually by either doing it yourself from within each app (which is what I do) or allow the apps themselves to do it. Sometimes this may require a little fiddling with your firewall and/or anti virus blockers – especially with games. But using third party update checking software is really just one of the latest in the slime-ball spammers book of tricks.

    These third party apps usually don’t even check all of your installed apps either. And of the few apps that they do check they usually don’t provide the most current update/upgrades options. Just installing these update checkers will often result in unwanted crap ware and other junk like weirdo tool bars. Third party app checkers may also say they look at your browser too but they really don’t. So my advice would be to just avoid them all – even if it’s from a trusted vendor like McAfee or Symantec because you just don’t need this junk.

    The only things you really need are already built in! Keeping Windows updated (XP to 8, at least) or even keeping most Linux distros current with the latest patches, upgrades, fixes is not that hard. And I’ve never even heard of an anti virus / anti malware app that didn’t have an update feature. Sure, some AV/AM apps are hard to configure and even certain developers should get a collective slap upside their heads for bad design too, but they are all at least able to update definitions and/or patches somehow. A little bit of technical knowledge doesn’t hurt either and I suspect that’s why most if not all readers come to HTG. Point is, you don’t need some other potentially dangerous app to do an already (relatively) simple task.

    Finally, you might also ask yourself what’s the motivation in recommending this junk?! Cause about 8 times out of 10, I’ve found that the promoter is often getting a kick back and/or working directly/indirectly for the app producer. And of the remaining two reviewers/promoters, one usually has no clue what they’re doing while the other just doesn’t care since he/she is usually just trying to fill content!

    Third party app checkers are nothing but pure crap!

  9. brewww

    Filehippo update checker is the one that I recommend.

  10. LadyFitzgerald

    @ Anonymous. Have you ever tried any of them?

  11. Anonymous


    Yes! I have tried more than a few of these app checkers and none of them really do anything positive that you can’t do yourself – or that you can’t allow the apps/OS to do themselves. About the only thing these app checkers might do is check for newer drivers. But even drivers can be malicious since you really need WHQL “certified” drivers if you want to stay even relatively safe. And no third party checker is really going to do any more with respect certified drivers than the Windows updates process will do either. And that’s just on the Windows side.

    App checkers themselves are what I like to call “scare ware” since they have about as much to do with checking your computer as… (you get the idea). They’re a waste of time and resources. And assuming you don’t get an app/driver/OS checker that isn’t itself infested with malicious coed, it will not do anything you can’t do yourself — assuming you know how. And isn’t that why most of us are here? To learn?!

    I believe @dima said it best, “…(apps and drivers) never need to be updated unless something is not working.” That’s true! The best advice still holds true. Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke!

  12. BJ

    Belarc advisor can give you an accurate idea of what you may need with Windows Updates.

  13. cartman

    I use Secunia, have for years, it makes life simpler. I have never used it to fix something that is broke, I use it to make sure I have the latest patches to avoid new exploits out there, and there are new ones everyday. Yes I could do everything Secunia does by hand, just like I could do my research with a pen and paper at the library, but why would I? I use Secunia as a helper app, letting me know when it thinks something needs my attention. I decide what to do, the program doesn’t do anything, it only makes suggestions.

  14. Dhirendra

    I use “CNET” TechTracker, which does a good job of advising you, which one of downloaded programs need updating, provided you download those programs from their website and register with them.

  15. Road_Dog777

    One of the problems with update checking software that tells you what software needs an upgrade, many of the low-end versions do not tell you if that update is a freeware update like Adobe X, or if it’s a shareware upgrade like many I bought in stores or downloaded, and most good shareware anti-malware programs U buy every year. I still use them and make sure that freeware has not suddenly become nag-ware, ad-ware or pure shareware by running a Google search on the proposed install/update.

  16. K@RiS


    Software =
    Windows Updates =
    Drivers?? = Windows Updates

  17. LadyFitzgerald

    @ Anonymous. The picture you paint sounds more like driver updaters and doesn’t sound like Secunia PSI at all which strongly suggests you haven’t actually used it . All it does it check for programs needing updates, tells what files are risky and why, and how urgent a needed update is. It doesn’t check or fix drivers. In fact, it doesn’t fix anything. Sure, I could manually check each program myself but I use a lot of programs and checking every cotton pickin’ one of them would consume several hours every week to do what Seciunia does for me and I still would probably miss some. Frankly, I have far better things to do with my time.

    There are some programs I let check themselves for updates with the caveat that I initiate the download and installation (in the case of MS OS updates, I like to wait a couple of days before installing to make sure they aren’t buggy; it’s been known to happen). But Secunia has picked up on some threats to certain programs before the programs themselves had updates available to fix the threats. That at least gives me the option to disable or delete the program until a fix is available or work around it somehow. It even occasionally picks up on MS updates before MS checks for them itself. It would take a lot of time to manually research every program to find reports of problems like that, time I don’t have to spare.

    In the case of drivers, as long as they are working properly, I don’t worry about them or even bother to check them. As many have pointed out, “if it an’t broke, don’t fix it.”

  18. aaa

    gud & very gud

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