If you do not want to or can use Windows Update to keep your operating system up to date, you have a couple of alternatives at your disposal. We covered most of them in our extensive Windows Update guide. There are two basic options that you have: you can either download patches directly from Microsoft's Download Center or use a third party application to do just that.
Third party software is usually the better way unless you only want to download a couple of patches for the operating system. If you want to download them all, for instance to burn them to DVD so that you can install those patches on a system without permanent Internet connection, then third party software is the way to go.
Why? Because it is a lot faster and less error prone. Most programs offer to download all patches released for Windows automatically from Microsoft which is a lot faster than having to find and download the patches manually instead.
Windows Hotfix Downloader is one of the easier to use programs for the job. All you have to do is select the operating system or Office version that you want to download patches for and pick a local download directory before you hit the download button.
The program will download all selected patches and hotfixes to the download location on your system. Updates are not selected by default and it is up to you to select them. You can use the checkboxes for that or right-click to select all at once using the context menu.
The program displays update names, sizes and release dates in the interface. Downloads may take a while depending on that selection and the speed of your Internet connection. Windows Hotfix Downloader displays the download progress directly in the program interface.
You can hit the pause button at anytime to stop the process, and resume to start downloads from the position you did so. Note that you cannot stop the download process once it is started from within the program interface.
The application verifies all downloaded updates once they have been all downloaded to make sure that files are not corrupt.
You can install all updates individually from the folder they have been downloaded to, or directly from within the application by selecting an update mode first, and then the updates that you want to install.
If you need to download all or many updates that Microsoft released for Windows 7 or Windows 8, or the two latest Office versions, then this program can help you with that with minimal effort on your side. The update installer needs some work done though as it is not as intuitive as it could be. It would for instance be helpful if the program would come with an option to only download or install updates that have not been installed yet on the system to make things easier for the user of it.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.