Five Free Software Updaters Compared

I don’t know their proper title. I’ve always called them software updaters. You know, software you download which scans the programs on your PC, lists those with newer versions and offers to update them. I’m going to have a look at several of these here to see which are the most useful.  But what is most useful? Well, first, they should update as many programs as possible. Second, they shouldn’t report that installed programs are up to date when they aren’t and equally they shouldn’t offer to downgrade your already up-to-date programs or install beta updates if you don’t want those.

If you follow tech blogs you’ll probably know there are quite a few free software updaters out there. I’ll have a look at five of them. I didn’t consider Ninite Updater as it’s a paid app. I hadn’t run any updater for a few weeks so I decided to try all five at the same time to compare what they found to upgrade. I won’t consider software upgrades to beta versions.

FileHippo Update Checker

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This is probably the first updater I tried years ago. I’ve always found it accurate at reading the correct version of software on my PC. Perhaps its one failing is that it doesn’t offer to update a wide range of my installed software, just the essentials if you like.

Quick scan time: Yes

List of up-to-date software installed: No

Updates found: 14

All My Apps

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In the older version of All My Apps, you used to be able to ignore certain updates but not on the latest version. This program will load at startup but you can stop this by unchecking the box in the Settings menu. On the plus side, All My Apps will offer to update several runtimes such as Adobe AIR,  .NET and Silverlight. It also provides a list of up-to-date software on you PC.

Quick scan time: Yes

List of up-to-date software installed: Yes, 39

Updates found: 28

Secunia PSI

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Secunia have always played on the fact that out-of-date software may be insecure and needs to be patched but this argument applies to all software and all software updaters. The downside of updating software is that unfortunately you may lose some functionality you liked in an older version. The initial scan for out-of-date software took 15 minutes which is way too long. After that, I found it would automatically start downloading updates ready for you to click to install. Seemed to be no option to stop this. I also didn’t like the fact that it wasn’t clear which version numbers it was offering to update from/to.

Quick scan time: No

List of up-to-date software installed: Yes, 148

Updates found: 11

Soft-2-Base

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A slightly confusing interface. You have to select just Installed to be updated to show just software updates. Also includes a section Installed more recent where it believes your installed software is more recent than what it has to offer. It may be misreading version numbers here.

Quick scan time: Yes

List of up-to-date software installed: Yes, 7

Updates found: 14

OUTDATEfighter

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The nicest interface of the five updaters tested. Clearly shows the version updating from/to and when the update was added to their database. I like this as you can ignore any very recent additions in case they have as yet undiscovered bugs. Let someone else find those before you update your software. You can also chose to ignore updates of particular apps if you like.

Quick scan time: Yes

List of up-to-date software installed: No

Updates found: 24

Of the five updaters tested, I liked OUTDATEfighter and All My Apps. They gave me the biggest list of software updates, but OUTDATEfighter didn’t list up-to-date software. I’ll be keeping both on my PC as each offered about 7 updates which the other didn’t, so between them they should cover most of my essential software updates.

As always, if you do decide to use these free updaters, be careful not to install unwanted tool bars and search bars during installation, and of course when updating software, read each screen carefully again watching for unnecessary tool bars and trial software.

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