Software Update Checker Comparison

It's been a while since I've compared various software update checkers and I felt that it was time to download and test the old applications and several new ones again for a second comparison. Before I start that I would like to write about the criteria that are important in the test. There are basically three elements that are of importance when looking at software update checkers: The number of updates that have been identified, the number of false positives and the usability of the application.

The number of updates that are found and the false positives play hand in hand obviously. Both parameters are weighted carefully while usability concentrates on the ease of use.

The applications that are part of the comparison are: FileHippo Update Checker, Update Star, App Snap, App Updater, Personal Software Inspector, Sumo and Radarsync.

I began the comparison by installing all software update checkers from the above list running their check once all of them had been installed. This was the easiest way to compare their results, the found software updates. After that I checked the validity of the updates that had been found. Did the list include false positives ? This could include previous versions of applications or applications that have been reported that were not installed on the test system.

Lastly the usability was examined. Was it easy to use the application and download the updates ?

There was only one application with 0 false positives and that was the File Hippo Update Checker. It also detected the most applications that needed an update because of the inclusion of beta updates in the list. It detected six regular updates and four beta updates. The report was displayed on a website with download links to the updates, each update had to be downloaded and installed separately.

Sumo came in second with eight updates that have been discovered during the scan. Four of the updates were updates from a non-commercial version to the latest commercial version. These were marked specifically. Each download was linked to a specific page on the developers website that contained lots of advertisement and links to searches for the application.

Every other updater examined failed the test. Radarsync reported 3 updates of which 2 were false positives, Appsnap discovered 2 of which 1 was a false positive, App Updater found 0 and crashed repeatedly, Update Star found 7 of which 5 were commercial updates and Secunia PSI found 0.

That's a pretty disappointing result. The only two applications that I can recommend at the moment are File Hippo Update Checker and Sumo. Every other application failed the test.

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Responses to Software Update Checker Comparison

  1. Thomas Murphy May 29, 2008 at 9:59 am #

    Filehippo, one of the best sites where you can download high-quality software.
    ThomasMurphy

  2. jurkis May 29, 2008 at 11:26 am #

    File Hippo Update Checker doesn't find foobar installed on my PC at all. Foobar is installed for sure :).

  3. Martin May 29, 2008 at 11:36 am #

    jurkis they all have troubles finding applications. sumo for instance found winscp which filehippo did not find, filehippo on the other hand found an Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player update that Sumo did not find.

  4. Jojo May 29, 2008 at 11:50 am #

    I believe that FileHippo only checks for files that FileHippo offers for download?

    Radarsynch is awful and the author is a jerk.

    UpdateStar works OK. But it is annoying as it wants to make itself run at Windows startup (which I deny it) and if you don't use the file-->Exit command, it will remain running in the background in the tray. Sometimes I find useful updates through it, but most of the time not.

    I will give SUMO a try.

  5. Jojo May 29, 2008 at 1:15 pm #

    I have now tried SUMO and I am liking it a lot.

  6. Tysen Woodlock May 29, 2008 at 2:26 pm #

    Good investigating Martin, I'm glad that there are people like you willing to do this kind of research.

    As I mentioned in the RadarSynch post, I found it disappointing, so maybe I'll give Sumo and FileHippo a go.

  7. Noel May 29, 2008 at 2:51 pm #

    All I want is something that updates my drivers as most of the softwares can be set to check for updates automatically so no need to have extra software for that but for the drivers, I found its not that easy so its good to have something for that..

  8. Michael Shi May 29, 2008 at 3:40 pm #

    What about radarsync? not only software but also Windows updates and driver updates.

  9. Rarst May 29, 2008 at 3:45 pm #

    No appget this time? I remember you had trouble with it in last comparision.

    Appget has main difference from the usual bunch of updaters - it uses user-submitted data on versions instead of human-managed. It is both advantage and disadvantage but I think it is worth it. It's a pity author hibernated...

    FileHippo checking only software they have on site, but they have really nice selection of it. :)

    SecuniaPSI found nothing? Rather weird, when I tried it it found bunch of fantastic crap like some dlls deep inside microsoft office... It's more of security thing than updater.

  10. Terence Hill May 29, 2008 at 3:49 pm #

    The best for me is SUMO.

    I have also many setup files of programs (I collect them) and it is capable to scan them, so I can keep my collection updated.

    It will be nice if the developers implement the scanning of setup files included on compressed files (zip at least).

    Btw I mainly use feeds of many sites to update the softwares, it's the best solution when you have a big amount of software.

  11. Martin May 29, 2008 at 4:29 pm #

    Rarst you are right, I forget that one. I tried it just a minute ago. It definitely found the most applications (30) that needed an update. Unfortunately though it listed a lot of false positives, like True Crypt 6 or WinSCP 4.1 beta although I was running 4.1.1 beta.

    It also listed Firefox 3b5 as an update for Firefox 2.0.0.14 which it is not.

    The biggest problem of Appget is that they are mixing beta versions and release versions which they should not. Mentioning beta versions is fine but not as a update of a full version.

    Providing a switch in the options to turn beta versions on or off would be great.

    They also have to work on the false positives.

    But it works so it's definitely a step forward. It's not a bad software.

  12. Rarst May 29, 2008 at 5:00 pm #

    >The biggest problem of Appget is that they are mixing beta versions and release versions which they should not.

    Appget system simply works that way. There is no moderation, whatever users are submitting (if you connect with appget and have some versions it doesn't know you submit it to database).

    Problem is there are often no way to distinguish beta from non-beta on software level. Humans can read site and understand which is beta, but for software it's just bunch of numbers coded in somewhere in apps.

    So appget indeed gives some false stuff but it has very impressive and kinda self-updating and self-filling database. I just hope it stays alive, next version was planned for like october 2007 and author is long gone into "I-am-busy-later" mode. :(

  13. Shaun May 29, 2008 at 5:19 pm #

    I like radarsync. Software updates are nice but driver updates is the thing that's actually hard to do successfully yourself, and Radarsync does a good job with that. It's the only freeware I've found that does that.

  14. -=Ben=- May 29, 2008 at 8:03 pm #

    Update Star.
    That is the program I use
    That and Filehippo's one

  15. Robert May 30, 2008 at 7:51 am #

    Securina PSI is not designed to simply find updates to your software. It is designed to find Security vulnerabilities and make you aware of updates available to fix those vulnerabilities.

    It also will now show you problems that are not easy to update by default. Those applications are only shown when the settings are changed. This makes it easy for the average Joe to use it while giving someone with more computer savvy to find even more issues and correct them as well. It's also not released yet. It's still beta although it is very near final release.

  16. John Kahan May 30, 2008 at 11:59 pm #

    Great finding, Martin!! Sumo is not bad but kind of "lite" for me. I know you didn't like RadarSync so much but I do, I use it for several days now (it's a freeware since last week!!), it works for me... found WinSCP, WinRAR, pingin, and 2 awesome drivers (Intel and Realtek), so I do appreciate that. FileHippo is not so cool, b/c it's a shareware site, nothing comes direct from the ORIGINAL manufacturer of the file, so you don't know what they compile into the file, etc., I never trust third party (where RadarSync links are direct to the original manufacturers)

  17. Frank July 6, 2008 at 1:40 pm #

    It is important to realise that many of these programs settings may be changed to detect more software. For FileHippo.com's update checker I added my "Program Files" folder to the custom search list, then it finds all the software I have that they keep.

    Like Robert said, Secunia's PSI is only for security upgrades, so perfect for those that are more security-minded than those (like me) who like to have the latest and greatest.

    I really disliked RadarSync, I would not touch it again.

    I came across this website claiming that Software Informer is in fact dangerous software. True? I don't know.

    Check out my impressions of these software at http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-software-update-monitor.htm

  18. Keith Petersen January 2, 2009 at 10:23 am #

    The Update Notifier is a small utility that scans your computer for installed software and displays a list of updates. Also you can see the latest updates for applications from your Watch List.

    http://cleansofts.org/view/update-notifier.html

    I am particularly impressed that they use authors PAD files to track their updates and the fact that when you click on the download links you are taken to the author's official web site, not a third party software archive. This program tracks many programs not covered by the FileHippo Update Checker.

  19. Emil March 31, 2009 at 12:34 pm #

    I am agree. At the moment for me the best software updater is Update Notifier: http://cleansofts.org/. It has 'run in background' option and large software base.

  20. juanmah July 21, 2009 at 9:38 pm #

    Great comparison. Thanks!

  21. perse adrian August 11, 2009 at 12:39 am #

    Try updatechecker.filerex.com

  22. Emil August 31, 2009 at 11:14 am #

    updatechecker.filerex.com is not popular.

  23. perse December 22, 2009 at 10:01 pm #

    New release Filerex Update Checker 2.0 , updatechecker.filerex.com

  24. Aaqib April 7, 2010 at 4:49 pm #

    SUMo is the best...

  25. iain February 23, 2011 at 10:06 am #

    file hippo is by far the best and easiest place for any download whatsoever

  26. Andersen October 3, 2011 at 5:38 pm #

    Ttere is one more freeware update checker ( http://filedoggy.com/update-checker/ ) as a desktop application...

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