What is Windows Patch Management: Everything You Need To Know

    Software is a vital component in the success of any SaaS business. Without software of various kinds, it would be challenging to do anything efficiently or effectively. Unfortunately, any windows patch management software is also vulnerable to various security issues and bugs.

    If left unpatched, these vulnerabilities can create entry points for hackers, leading to corporate data leakage and malware infiltration. Windows patch management process ensures your Windows operating systems don’t face security issues or fall prey to malicious third-party patches.

    What is Windows Patch Management?

    Windows patch management refers to the process of updating Windows operating systems with patches or updates provided by Microsoft. These updates can include various types of improvements or fixes for the system, such as:

    • Security Updates: Address vulnerabilities that could be exploited by malware or hackers, helping to protect the system from potential threats.
    • Critical Updates: Fix specific, non-security-related bugs.
    • Service Packs: Large collections of updates, fixes, and/or enhancements to a Windows operating system, released as a single package.
    • Feature Updates: Provide new functionalities and enhancements to the operating system, improving usability, performance, and support for new types of hardware.
    • Driver Updates: Improve the compatibility, stability, and performance of hardware components connected to the system.

    What is Windows Patch Management Policy?

    Windows patch management is a process that involves the installation of updates, service packs, and hotfixes on a Windows-based computer system or any Microsoft device.

    A Windows patch deployment policy is a set of guidelines that an organization or company uses to determine which patches apply to the systems. It is an automated process to keep your Microsoft devices up-to-date with the latest security patches and bug fixes.

    Also read: What is Windows MDM Policy

    Why is a Patch Management Policy Important?

    Applying patch processeds is crucial for various reasons like adding new features and fixing performance issues and security vulnerabilities. Hence, defining a patch management policy simplifies IT efforts to deploy timely software updates and patches, and it minimizes security risks.

    Benefits of Windows Patch Management

    Efficient management of Windows patch updates offers significant advantages, improving system security and operational productivity. Consistent application of patches strengthens protection against cyber threats, ensures adherence to industry regulations, and boosts system functionality overall.

    Improved Security

    The primary advantage of a thorough Windows patch management strategy lies in bolstering system security. As the landscape of cybersecurity threats continuously evolves, it’s imperative to maintain systems with the most recent updates. These updates rectify particular security loopholes that, if neglected, could become targets for cybercriminals.

    Vulnerabilities can vary widely, encompassing everything from trivial weaknesses to severe security flaws that may jeopardize the entirety of a network. Through consistent application of patches, organizations are empowered to:

    • Defend against malware, ransomware, and various forms of harmful software.
    • Eliminate security vulnerabilities susceptible to exploitation by cybercriminals.
    • Avert data breaches that could inflict considerable financial and reputation loss.
    • Enhance System Performance.

    Patches frequently bring enhancements and fine-tunings that boost the overall functionality of both operating systems and applications. Consequently, regular patching contributes to:

    • Quicker system reaction times.
    • A decrease in system crashes and freezes.
    • Improved efficiency in the interaction between software and hardware.

    Regulatory Compliance

    Numerous industries are subject to regulatory frameworks mandating the upkeep of a secure and current IT landscape. Consistent management of software updates aids in adhering to these regulations, thereby assisting entities in sidestepping legal and monetary repercussions. This is especially vital within industries such as healthcare, finance, and public administration, where the safeguarding of data privacy and security is of utmost importance.

    Reduced IT Expenses

    Although it may appear paradoxical, proficient patch management can culminate in significant cost reductions over time. Through the proactive resolution of possible vulnerabilities, enterprises can sidestep expenses linked to system outages, data violations, and high-cost, urgent IT solutions.

    Enhanced Hardware Lifecycle

    Routine Windows patching can play a significant role in increasing the longevity of hardware. These updates enhance software efficiency and guarantee compatibility, which in turn lessens the burden on hardware components, thereby extending their functional life.

    Better User Experience

    For IT teams and employees, a properly managed system equates to a more seamless and effective user interface. This enhancement can result in:

    • Higher productivity
    • Decreased irritation related to IT infrastructures
    • A more efficient workflow process

    Tech & Feature Support

    Regularly updating with the latest patches allows organizations to adopt new technologies and upgraded functionalities. By keeping systems current, businesses can harness these innovations for optimized operations and to gain an edge in the competitive landscape.

    Challenges in Windows Patch Management

    Windows patching can be a hurdle for organizations. Keeping updates timely and ensuring compatibility across software can be tricky, but these are essential steps to a strong security posture and healthy systems. 

    Timing & Operations Equilibrium

    Ensuring smooth updates is a key challenge in the Windows patch management process. Finding the optimal time to roll them out minimizes their impact on users. This may include:

    • Scheduling updates to minimize disruption to workday activities.
    • Delivering updates without impacting user productivity.
    • Critical security patches require immediate installation, potentially impacting planned work schedules.

    Patching Complexity

    Patch management can be a minefield riddled with complexities:

    • Sorting through a constant stream of updates to identify the ones truly critical for your specific systems can be a daunting task.
    • Walking the tightrope between deploying essential security fixes and accidentally introducing instability with untested patches is a constant concern.
    • Devising a single patching strategy that seamlessly addresses a diverse IT landscape filled with a mix of operating systems and software applications presents a unique challenge.

    Resource Availability

    Resource limitations hinder effective patch management in Windows systems for many organizations:

    • Smaller IT departments might find it difficult to manage the constant flow of new patches.
    • Limited budgets can prevent organizations from acquiring sophisticated patch management solutions that automate tasks and improve efficiency.

    Compatibility Constraints

    Keeping your system up-to-date with patches is important, but it’s not always a smooth ride. Here are some challenges that can arise:

    • New patches may not always play nicely with existing programs, especially custom software.
    • Older hardware might lack the ability to run the latest patches, leaving them vulnerable.
    • People sometimes hesitate to install updates because they worry about disruptions or changes to how things work.

    Windows Patch Management Process: Best Practices

    By following best practices for patching Windows systems, you can significantly improve your IT security and keep your network running smoothly. These practices, like automation and routine patch testing, are crucial for maintaining a safe and efficient IT environment.

    Here are some of the best practices that organizations can imbibe in their Windows patching steps.

    Keep Automation at the Helm

    For robust network security, automating the patch management process is a critical best practice.  Automation streamlines the process, guaranteeing timely updates and minimizing human error. 

    Here’s how it achieves this:

    • Leverage software that automatically detects, downloads, and applies essential updates, saving IT valuable time and resources.
    • Configure updates to deploy during non-peak hours, ensuring minimal disruption to ongoing operations and user productivity.

      Automation ensures patches are applied consistently across all systems, maintaining a strong and uniform security posture for your entire network.

    Patch Prioritization

    The constant stream of patches can be overwhelming. To tackle this;

    • Prioritize which Windows patches to apply first by focusing on risk assessment. This means evaluating the seriousness of the vulnerabilities each patch addresses.
    • Make critical patches your top priority. These address the most severe vulnerabilities and should be applied as soon as possible to minimize risk.

    Test & Deploy

    Here’s why you should test patches in a controlled environment before deploying them across your network:

    • Testing helps identify potential issues like system instability or compatibility conflicts before they disrupt your live environment.
    • By catching problems early, you minimize the risk of widespread outages and ensure a smoother patch deployment process.

    Extensive Windows Patch management Policy

    To ensure effective and timely patching, a well-defined patch management policy is crucial. This policy should encompass three key sections:

    • Patch Application Procedures: This section details the process for identifying, acquiring, testing, and deploying patches. It should specify the timeframe for applying patches based on their criticality.
    • Roles and Responsibilities: This section clearly outlines who is accountable for each stage of the patch management process. This includes tasks like vulnerability assessment, patch deployment, and post-patching verification.
    • Exception Handling Guidelines: This section addresses situations where applying a patch might not be straightforward. It should define procedures for handling incompatible patches, critical systems requiring extra testing, or obtaining necessary approvals for potential downtime.

    Employee Training & Awareness

    Maintaining user awareness regarding the significance of patch management and its impact on them is crucial. This includes:

    • Informing users about forthcoming patches and their possible effects.
    • Offering instruction on the critical nature of updates and the methods for managing them.

    Frequent Auditing

    Conducting frequent audits of the patch management process is crucial for adhering to both internal guidelines and external mandates. This encompasses:

    • Examining the history of patches to confirm that all systems are accounted for and no unit is neglected.
    • Producing documentation that verifies adherence to established regulatory criteria.
    • Ensuring patch management is a cohesive part of the overarching IT security framework, working in conjunction with additional security protocols to safeguard the network.
    Learn More: Patch Management Best Practices

    How to Create a Windows Patch Management Policy with Scalefusion?

    Scalefusion MDM acts as a patch management tool to simplify Windows asset management for organizations and offers an extensive feature set with powerful capabilities, including patch compliance. IT admins can remotely drive updates and apply patches to their Scalefusion-managed Microsoft systems on their servers. These systems need to be enabled with Windows server update services.

    The following are the prerequisites to configure a Windows patch manager policy with Scalefusion:

    • Scalefusion account with Legacy or Modern Enterprise Plan
    • Windows devices enrolled with Scalefusion MDM
    • The latest version of Scalefusion MDM agent (v6.0.0.)
    • Windows 10 or Windows 11 supporting 32-bit and 64-bit OS updates
    Learn More: Third-Party App Update & Patch Management

    Creating a Windows Patch Management Policy with Scalefusion: A step-by-step Guide

    1. Global-Level Policy

    Step 1: Log into your Scalefusion account and navigate to the Update & Patch Management section on the dashboard.

    patch management for windows

    Step 2: Click Configure. Configure the default global settings for the Windows MDM agent to query and sync updates.

    Step 3: Switch on the Scalefusion MDM agent-based management tool option. Enabling this option allows you to manage MDM agent-based updates and other granular settings such as;

    • Update sync interval for 12 or 24 hours
    • Option to sync driver updates
    • Force reboot devices immediately, 5 minutes or 10 minutes after updates
    • Configure the update schedule to set the time, day, and week or force install on missed schedule
    windows patch management

    Step 4: Click Save after configuring the settings as per your requirements.

    2. Profile-Level Policy

    You can also apply the Windows patch management policy on a profile level. It automatically applies the configured patches to every device in the profile.

    Step 1: Log into your Scalefusion account and navigate to the Device Profiles option under the Device Profiles & Policies section on the dashboard.

    Step 2: Create a Windows device profile or edit an existing one.

    Step 3: Navigate to the Windows Updates section and configure the patch management settings under the Scalefusion Agent-based Settings tab.

    windows patch management process

    Step 4: Click Update Profile after configuring the settings as per your requirements.

    3. Viewing the Update & Patch Status

    On configuring the Windows patch management policy, Scalefusion syncs all the available updates.   You can view a summary of available updates on the dashboard. Navigate to the Update & Patch Management section to select any one of two views – Device View or Updates View.

    automated windows patch management

    Device view:

    The device view gives an overview of the total number of Microsoft devices that have been successfully updated, those devices that have pending updates, as well as those that require a reboot after the update. You can filter and view devices based on groups, devices, update type, installation status, or reboot requirement.

    You can view a summary of the device details, including the device name, group, and the installed, available or hidden updates. You can execute device-level actions like rebooting devices, viewing a consolidated status of the updates or downloading a CSV of all updates. You can also perform bulk actions like updating, rebooting, syncing, hiding or unhiding all devices.

    Updates view:

    The updates view gives an overview of the installed, available, and failed updates. You can filter and view devices based on groups, devices, update type, installation status, hotfix ID, or search feature.

    The updates view displays the number of devices on which updates have been installed, missed, hidden, or failed. You can complete device-level actions like viewing a consolidated status of the updates or downloading a CSV of all updates. It also allows you to perform bulk actions like updating all devices, pushing selective updates, syncing, and hiding or unhiding the update status.

    Closing Lines

    Windows patch management brings a sense of surety and relief to the IT stakeholders and business leaders, knowing that their Windows devices are well-secured. Scalefusion empowers you to take a systematic, automated, policy-driven deployment of regular updates and patches with minimal IT intervention.

    Schedule a live demo with our product experts to explore more about Scalefusion’s Windows Patch Management capabilities. 


    1. What is Windows patch management software?

    Windows patch management software is a tool designed to facilitate the process of identifying, acquiring, and applying updates, or “patches,” to the Windows operating system. It helps organizations maintain system security, fix vulnerabilities, and ensure the smooth functioning of their Windows-based systems by centrally managing the deployment of updates.

    2. What are the benefits of Windows patch management?

    Windows patching provides essential updates to fix security vulnerabilities, improve system stability, and enhance overall performance. Regular patching helps safeguard against potential cyber threats and ensures a more secure and reliable computing environment.

    3. Why is a Windows patch necessary?

    Windows patches are necessary to address security vulnerabilities and software bugs and improve overall system stability. Regularly applying patches helps protect the operating system from potential cyber threats and ensures that users have access to the latest features and improvements.

    4. How do you implement patch management?

    Patch management involves regularly reviewing and applying software updates, known as patches, to address vulnerabilities and enhance security. This process includes identifying applicable patches, testing them in a controlled environment, and systematically deploying them across the organization’s systems to ensure a secure and up-to-date computing environment.

    Abhinandan Ghosh
    Abhinandan Ghosh
    Abhinandan is a Senior Content Editor at Scalefusion who is an enthusiast of all things tech and loves culinary and musical expeditions. With more than a decade of experience, he believes in delivering consummate, insightful content to readers.

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