Patch management is a way of life for system administrators nowadays. With the proliferation of Internet worms and other threats, new patches are being released for Windows platforms on an almost weekly basis. Testing these patches and deploying them on production systems takes time and energy. Occasionally, something goes wrong and a patch designed to correct one problem actually creates another.
The first key to effective patch management is proper business practices: test, deploy, and verify. The second key is proper tools. Windows 2000 Windows Server 2003 come with built-in several tools, while others can be obtained from Microsoft's web site and third-party vendors. The third key is knowledge?knowing how patch-management tools work and how to troubleshoot them when things go wrong. The hacks in this chapter touch on all three keys to effective patch management and help enlarge your understanding and skills in this crucial area of a system administrator's job description.