Updating your PC software is a hassle, no doubt about that. The more applications you have installed, the more you need to keep tabs on all the patches, updates and new versions that the developers release.
This is doubly true for those desktop applications that you install on your own. While apps from the Microsoft Store can automatically be kept fresh, traditional programs often have you scampering for updates, often by firing up the program itself and then getting a notification or manually checking.
However, there are ways to streamline these operations. You can use what are essentially dedicated programs that alert you whenever updates or new versions of your favorite applications are made available.
Software updaters are here to help.
What are the Software Updaters?
They are exactly what you think they are. Programs designed to regularly check for, and alert you, whenever a patch, update or new version of an application is up for grabs. These not only save you time but also enable you to install the latest releases of your favorite programs as early as possible.
Many programs automatically update themselves, but this is not the case for all software.
This holds notably true for applications coded by smaller developers that do not have notification and update features built in. There are countless Windows applications that fall in this category. They regularly get updated, but it is hard for users to know when an update has been released so they can install them on their devices.
Hence why this new category of software updaters was born — programs that you install on your computer to help you keep up with new releases. But perhaps, more importantly, ensure that you are always using the most recent and most secure version of your favorite app.
You even have some that let you download early beta versions of your given applications, which is a great way for computing enthusiasts to discover new things.
Are software updaters necessary?
We now come to the big question. Is software updater necessary? Do you have to have one installed on your PC at all time? Can you do without them? Should you pay for a premium version? Will I actually be able to update all my applications at once automatically?
The answer to all these questions lies in your usage habits.
If you have a number of such programs installed on your system, it quickly becomes cumbersome to manually fire each one up and check whether a new version has been released. Same goes for visiting the official websites to find out this information, then downloading the files and installing.
This is where a dedicated software updater can help you out.
Even if you don’t juggle with too many programs, or are a Windows 10 user that primarily prefers to use the software housed on the Microsoft Store, there is one definite advantage of using these types of programs to keep your installed applications up to date.
And that is security.
There was a time, not too long ago, when malware creators primarily targeted the Windows operating system directly. These days, Microsoft has amped up the security of its modern OS to such an extent that cybercriminals are instead focusing their efforts on vulnerabilities discovered in third-party software.
Newer, stealthier methods of infecting Windows applications are now doing the rounds in the dark alleys of the Internet. These ultimately target the platform itself, just via a different route — that of the software you have installed.
All the more reasons to keep all your software updated, in order to not give attackers an opening.
The best software updaters
Unlike certain other types of programs, there is actually base criteria that make for a good software updater. A recommended feature set, if you will. Because, really, if an application is lacking in these basic features, you are better off deploying a different one that does a better job.
Point being, not all such programs are created equal.
Some are designed by app repositories that allow their users to keep up with their apps and games collection. Most are general in nature, with a few slanted towards enterprise usage. Some utilities will automatically install the updates for you, some will download the files and ask you to manually initiate the installation process. Others yet will simply let you know that there is an update available.
Ideally, the best software updater lets you download the updates without having to fire up your web browser. It also comes with a range of customization options to fine-tune the scan and notification processes.
We put a whole bunch of these programs through their paces and have listed the best ones available for Windows users right now. All of these software updaters are free to download, though a couple of them also offer paid premium packages that bring additional functionality to the mix.
Listed below are the best software updaters in 2019.
Download these to keep your applications up-to-date and your systems free from threats.
1. IObit Software Updater
The folks over at IObit sure know how to design their programs. IObit Software Updater, like several other popular solutions from the company, comes with a simple, elegant and stylish user interface that makes checking for and updating your applications a breeze.
Beneath this violet and blue UI is a highly impressive set of features — almost everything that you would expect in a program like this. Current and new versions of your installed programs are clearly stated to give you an idea of how outdated that program is. This way you can skip minor releases if you want.
IObit Software Updater not only supports single updates, it is also at ease when it comes to bulk and automatic updates for your installed software. Meaning you can just press a button and then let it do its thing to keep all your programs fresh.
This does have you manually marking the programs to update automatically. But it isn’t a huge deal. You can also ignore the programs you want here. The handy little Recommendation tab lists a few good programs that you can directly install from there, which is a nice touch.
Overall, the program is really easy to use. And though it works with relatively few programs, and its software database is not huge like some of the other options in this list, it is a good starting point for you if you use popular programs and want to keep tabs on when they are updated. Recommended.
2. Software Updater
Depending on who you ask, Software Updater is either a brilliant name for a program of this sorts, or a rather obnoxious one. But start using it, and you will fall in love with its minimalistic user interface that makes it easy for you to check for and install new versions of your programs.
That said, it is important to make a few things clear early on. Although Software Updater certainly works as advertised, its feature set is not exactly its forte. You don’t get too many advanced options, and you must install the updates manually.
Its support for applications is also not exactly exhaustive. Most of the popular ones are here, though. Software Updater is also quick to scan for your installed application and takes just a few seconds to throw up a list. It also shows the current version and the version of the update that is available.
You can simply download the updates directly in the program and then install them on your system. Sadly, there are no bulk downloading options in Software Updater, and it does not install the updates for you. Likewise, if you are looking for support for beta releases, then look elsewhere.
Where this program absolutely wins is in its simplicity and performance. You just push a few buttons and the setup files for your applications are downloaded and ready to go without having to open and initiate the downloads in a web browser. Worth a trip.
No, SUMo has got nothing to do with Japanese wrestling. The name is short for Software Update Monitor, and this program does exactly what it says on the tin. The only problem? It does its things rather slowly.
SUMo scans your hard drive for software that you have installed. And this process can take its sweet time because of the vast number of applications that it supports. It even lists programs that do not require an update and also lets you add custom folders and files for it to scan.
Once done, it lets you know which of your software need updating. Select the ones that you want to be refreshed, and their latest versions will be downloaded from the SUMo website. It also distinguishes between minor and major updates, so that is a definite plus.
You can find newer versions of a whole range of different program — from browsers to utilities, to scanner software and audio converters. But a big downside of SUMo is that it does not provide links to the download page, which is a bit of a bummer. There is support for beta versions, though, thankfully.
It is also not possible to set things up on a schedule. You will have to open the program every time you want to update your applications. But at least, SUMo can be run both normally and from a portable location, meaning you can take it with you wherever you go on a USB stick.
4. Thor Free
Thor Free previously went by the name of Heimdal, both references to Norse mythology. This is a solution that is more aimed at business users and corporate customers, and it shows in everything from the menus to the feature set to the options that are available and options that are locked away.
This is a program designed to automatically and silently download and install your patches and software updates. It works in full auto mode, meaning the scanning, downloading and updating of your applications is done whenever necessary — true set and forget type of a deal.
Of course, you can also go in with a custom configuration if you want Thor to monitor some of your applications but not update them. Choosing which of your installed programs are kept up to date is easy, and it is simply a matter of setting up what is called the autopilot mode in the program.
Thor checks for updates every few hours by default. But you can again customize this or turn off automatic scanning altogether. Since this is a free version, you do not get access to premium features like malware detection and website blocking. Understandable.
At the end of the day, although this is a neatly designed program, Thor Free is not for everyone. It updates an extremely small number of applications, and its complex UI will turn away most people. There is power on offer here, but a user-friendly option this is not.
5. Avira Software Updater
Avira is one of the biggest names in Windows software, and the company has brought its expertise to this field as well. Avira Software Updater shows you outdated programs that are installed on your system, and it does this in a very minimal UI that makes the process super simple.
Installation is a little tricky, in that Avira throws in a panel that lists its various solutions like antivirus, password manager and VPN. Simply focus on the software updater, and complete the setup. The program will take a minute to update its configuration, then initiate a scan of what you have installed.
Scanning takes a while. But the program is light on resources and can track over 150 of the most popular applications. It serves up details of the software that needs updating, along with their website links, which you can use to install the new versions. You can also scan for drivers.
As simple as this program is, it’s not without its downsides. For starters, Avira likes to live in your system tray, and you don’t get options to exit directly. Worse yet, not all features are available in the free version of this program — you will be nudged towards payment to upgrade to the pro variant.
Nevertheless, as far as software updaters go, Avira Software Updater does a good job of monitoring your programs and helping you keep them up to date from one place. Pity that you have to part with money for automated installations, but the free version is a solid choice for detections and notifications.
6. Downloadcrew UpdateScanner
This may not be the most intuitive software around, but Downloadcrew UpdateScanner is a solution that is able to check for updates for a huge number of applications. This, it is able to do by drawing on its sizeable database of programs.
Like the FileHippo App Manager, this one is powered by one of the most popular repositories of software on the web. This means you can use it to automatically check for updates to hundreds of applications, including many of the most popular choices. But unlike the FileHippo App Manager, this is a bit of a mess.
You can configure UpdateScanner to start automatically with Windows and set it up to check for updates every time you start your computer. Or you can opt for a manual scan or schedule a scan for a particular time of the day — for example when you are on a coffee break.
The program may be undeniably powerful, but the developers have left a lot to be desired when it comes to user interface and usability. It serves up endless links to programs that you may want to install, and hidden at the top of the screen is a link to download the updates.
Clicking on that link takes you to the Downloadcrew.com website where you will be able to download the newest versions of your installed programs manually. It also requires you to register for the service, which may be worth an effort if you like what this popular website offers for download.
7. Patch My PC Updater
Patch My PC has been around for ages, and this portable app has definitely earned its success. Fire it up and you will see what all the hype is about. This is an application designed to make the process of updating your installed programs effortlessly easy.
Launch Patch My PC, and it will automatically scan your computer to determine what software you have installed on your device. The database of programs that are supported is quite comprehensive. Not the biggest around, but the engine is able to detect the majority of the popular applications.
Its portable nature makes it easy to run from anywhere — you can use this on your PC or stick it on a USB to update the software that your friends and family have installed on their computer. Best of all, this program installs software patches just as easily as it does new versions.
All this is done without the of clicking through to the programs or doing manual update checks. The main window makes good use of colors to help you tell the difference between applications that are updated or outdated. Update all of them at once, or set a schedule to deploy the updates.
The updates will be downloaded for you in turn, most of them silently, though some apps might prompt your intervention. The user interface of Patch My PC Updater could use a little work to make it cleaner and more inviting for novices. But it’s hard to fault this handy utility in terms of its usability.
8. FileHippo App Manager
A clean, nifty little application from the guys behind the popular download site FileHippo.com. The FileHippo App Manager is what you need to keep your software updated, with the program letting you download and install the latest updates right from within the updater.
This program previously went by the name of Update Checker. And while the name may be new, the functionality is still the same. A 2MB installation file gets you up and running in seconds, and the program comes with a user interface inspired by the sharp tiles and clean cuts.
Like a few other similar programs, this free software updater scans the programs you have installed on your computer against its own collection of applications at the website. FileHippo App Manager also lets you scan custom folders, and look out for beta versions of the applications that are available.
The most updated versions are then downloaded directly to PC from within the program. The results list that is shown is really easy to understand, as you not only get the two version numbers but also how old the new version is. Not many programs offer this functionality, which is good to see here.
One big downer is the lack of a single button that you can press to download all the updates at once. Another is the prominent display of banner ads. But when it comes to the database, FileHippo App Manager is right up there at the top. It picked up almost all the installed applications on our test system.
9. Glarysoft Software Update
Glarysoft is one of those perennial software developers on the Windows platform, with a number of quality applications under their belt. Happy to report that you can add Glarysoft Software Update to this illustrious list too.
Although this one also does not offer support for automatic updates, what sets Software Update apart is its professional feel and sublime feature set. There are unique options here that make this definitely worth a look — particularly for system administrators and home users with multiple computers.
The remote update option lets you manage and update the software on your PC from afar. Combine this with the high detection rate, the ability to enable or disable beta version scans, and a UI that gets straight to the point, and you have a winner.
One area where Glarysoft could improve things is in the settings. A few more customization options would really lift this up. Do take a little extra care when installing though, so as not to install the extra Malware Hunter tool that the installer tries to sneak in.
Sadly, as mentioned above, the update process is manual. This is the case with most programs here. But you can fork a little cash to pay to upgrade to the Professional version that offers support for automated installations. The extensive database and snappy performance make the admission ticket worth it.
10. PC App Store
And now for something a little different. PC App Store is more than a software updater. It is billed as a complete solution for installing and managing applications on your computer. You can download new programs and games, update and uninstall them, even set your desktop wallpaper.
This essentially makes PC App Store a jack of all trades, master of none. True, it can automatically find and update outdated software and notify you when it finds new versions available. It even installs the programs without requiring you to open a web browser.
Performance of the PC App Store remained snappy during testing, and the program does a good job of notifying you which updates are being installed on your system. This also makes it easy to exclude any particular version of an application that you want.
The only thing where it falters is its database of programs, which is unbearably small. A scan on our test system detected only a few applications that it listed as being old. This makes it hard to recommend as a dedicated solution to update your installed software.
Add to that the ads and links to apps and games that it serves up, all of which give it PC App Store more of a casual look and feel, rather than a professional one. Powers users will definitely not want to give this a try, but novices and beginners will appreciate the form and functionality on offer.
Software updaters may seem superfluous to some people, but for most Windows users they are a great way to ensue that they are running the very latest versions of all their favorite programs. These nifty little tools make sure that you are protected with the newest, most secure iterations of their apps.
And beyond that, they also do an excellent job of notifying you whenever new versions and features are made available for your installed programs. They truly are understated, yet invaluable.
Shawn is a WindowsChimp Staff writer, who is a fan of making lists and does the same on this site. He has a Contemporary Writing degree and been in technology niche since last 3 years.