How to Test a New Software Update Without Breaking Your IT System

We recently explored the importance of installing software, operating system and antivirus updates in order to lower the risk of cyber security threats, looking at how often software should be updated and what exactly needs to be kept up to date. But if you’re deploying company-wide updates across multiple users, how to make sure your new software update doesn’t cause issues, slow users down or bring systems to a standstill? Here we look at how to go about software testing new updates in a safe environment.


Before you update any software application or operating system, it is wise to ensure a backup is made.


If you use an online backup system, you’ll benefit from not having to manually run backups, plus your backup data will be held offsite.


An online backup works by scanning hard drives for file changes, encrypting them and then transferring them to a cloud server. Once uploaded, the files can be accessed and restored from any location. Online backups are not the same as cloud storage and file syncing services such as Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive. They are also able protect servers and all types of devices, with no file size limits.


Once you are satisfied that your data is backed up, you can go ahead and test updates across a selection of devices before you roll them out globally across all users.


Your aim is to make sure that all your apps continue to work as normal following the update. It’s important not to take too long with the testing phase, however. This is because once updates have been released, cyber attackers quickly become aware that there are vulnerabilities, of which they are often fast to take advantage.


How to test a new software update?


Some organisations are often reluctant to install new software updates before they’ve been fully tested and debugged, because they worry that they will slow systems down, or stop them working altogether. Some will disable automatic updates for this reason.


However, it is very important to install software updates, otherwise you could be putting your systems at risk from cyber-attack. It’s a matter of balancing the security benefits of installing new software updates promptly, whilst ensuring your business is in a position to operate efficiently once they are installed.


If your organisation uses Windows technology, you can use Windows Server Update Service (WSUS) to manage updates if your network is on-premise, or Windows Update for Business if it is off-premise.


These systems allow you to manage how devices take updates, which means you can configure a new software update to install as soon as it becomes available, and a feature update, which can have more of an impact on usability, after a short testing period.


Windows Insider Program


The best way to approach software testing new updates is to work with a small number of volunteer users who are prepared to work with pre-release feature updates and provide constructive feedback on the impact of those updates on usability and productivity. You can enrol these users on the Windows Insider Program for Business.


Installing the pre-release versions of Windows on their devices allows these users to identify any problems so that they can be reported to Microsoft, or fixed by the IT department or IT support company, before they become a widespread issue.


Once the Windows Insider releases have been tested, Windows Update for Business can be used to select which users get the final updates first so that they can confirm there are no further issues before a global rollout is deployed.


If you opt for a cloud IT system that runs on a Software as a Service (SaaS) basis, your periodic updates and maintenance will all be taken care of by the cloud IT provider, so you won’t have to worry about managing new software update installations or pre-release feature update testing.


Looking for an IT support company to help you manage updates and backups?


Software and operating system updates are vital if your organisation is going to stay protected from the growing issue of cyber threats. But managing their testing and implementation across your organisation can become a burden, especially if you have multiple users across different offices, as well as some remote workers.


At PC Docs, we can take that burden off your shoulders with a full cloud IT service that covers online backups and updates, as well as software licences and anytime, anyplace desktop access so that you don’t have to worry about either.


To learn more about how we can help your business, you are welcome to get in touch.

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