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Posted January 8, 2009

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Using Secunia and RadarSync to Update Your Computer

Updating Your Computer

updating computers with secuniaSecunia Personal Software Inspector is a free program that you can download and install on your computer that will act like Windows Update for all of the software you have installed, not just Microsoft software.

Microsoft, using Windows Update, does a pretty good job of keeping your PC updated with the latest patches and upgrades to the XP and Vista Operating Systems. O.K. so that's debatable, but at least they try. But what about all of the other software you have installed on your computers? Some programs are pretty good about alerting you when they have a newer and more secure version of their product available. Others leave it up to you to find these updates for yourself. If you have a computer that is close to a year old or older, you probably have a lot of non-Microsoft software installed on those computers that is out of date. You may even have Microsoft software on your computer that is out of date. Most of us have our computers configured to automatically download and install what Microsoft considers to be absolutely crucial. Some Microsoft software updates don't meet Microsoft's definition of cruscial and unless you take it upon yourself to check for updates to these programs, you'll never know they're available. So, wouldn't be nice to have a program on your computer that could scan your computer and tell you which of your programs are not using the latest versions or need to be patched?

Secunia Personal Software Inspector is a free program that you can download and install on your computer that will act like Windows Update for all of the software you have installed, not just Microsoft software. Secunia Personal Software InspectorNot only will Secunia tell you which programs are out of date, it will, with a couple of clicks, direct you to the location to where you can download the latest version of any out-dated software installed on your machine. Don't take my word for it. Google around for yourself and I think you'll find that there is no reason not to have this fantastic program installed on all of your computers.

I've been using the beta version of Secunia since it came out almost a year ago. I loved it then. But I love it even more since Secunia released it's first final (i.e. out of beta) version in November of 2008. It's new GUI is awesome. Everyone needs to have software like this on their computers. Making certain that you have the latest, best and most secure version of all of the software you're running on your machines is one of the best ways to insure that you are less vulnerable to attacks by bugs targeting those programs. Here's Secunia's download page if you want to investigate further. Oh, did I mention that this wonderful utility is absolutely free

Using Secunia PSI

Secunia has 2 options, an online scan (checks fewer things) and the free installed program (checks more things). If I were you I'd use the link above to go to Secunia's download page and download the newest version of the program. As of this writing, the newest version is version Click it open and follow its wizard's instructions to install it. When it first opens, it will Using Secunia PSIdo a complete scan of all of your software. Once the scan is completed, Secunia PSI will present you with a list of issues that were detected, along with download links to updated version, additional online information and other details. Pay attention to programs like Adobe Flash and Acrobat Reader, since insecure versions of programs like these are easy for bad guys to exploit. And look to make sure that you are using the latest version of whatever Web browsers you use. In fact, you should make sure to update any software that is used in conjunction with the internet.

Keep in mind that even though Secunia runs constantly in the background, it will not automatically keep all of your software updated. You wouldn't want it to do that anyway. Secunia will keep a running tab of all of the un-updated, un-patched and end-of-life programs on your computer but it's up to you to actually download and install the updates it finds for you. Fortunately, Secunia's interface makes that chore very easy to do. As mentioned before, Secunia will provide you with a direct link to update the programs you choose to do something about.

More About Using Secunia PSI

If you look at this illustration, you'll see the Secunia interface that you will be presented with when you open the program. The large red and yellow bars at the bottom represent the degree to which your software is updated. The eleven bars represent the current week and the ten previous weeks. Naturally, the first time you scan, you'll only see one bar. At the top of the page there are eight taps. The first tab is called Overview and will be opened by default. The second tab is called Insecure. Clicking that tab will display programs for which updates are available (see illustration above).  Secunia PSIThe next tab is End-of-Life. This will show you programs that are no longer supported. You should go to Add/Remove in the Control Panel and delete these programs. The next tab is Patched. These are programs that you have successfully updated. The next tab is Scan. Click this tab to get to the scan option. The next tab is Settings. When you click this tab open you'll see that Show only "Easy-to-Patch" programs is checked by default. You should probably leave it checked. The additional patches you may find after un-checking this option are too esoteric and unimportant to mess around with. The next tab is Secunia Profile. This shows your name and email address if you have chosen to register with Secunia. And the last tab is Help/Support/Forums which is self-explanatory.

Below is a short video I found on YouTub about a geeky guy bumbling around trying to demonstrate how to use Secunia. He gets all befuddled. He makes using Secunia look hard when actually the software practically runs itself. Like I said, It's best to leave the default settings alone.


As good as Secunia PSI is, the one thing it can't do is find updates to any of the drivers on your computer. Drivers are the software that control the hardware on your computer. Without the software to run it, your computer's monitor would be blank. The sound card needs software to play your music. Your printer wouldn't work without software in the form of a driver telling it what to do. And it's very unlikely you are going to get an email from Intell telling you that there has been an improvement made to the software that controls the Graphic Interface to the computer you bought two years ago.

RadarSync does for drivers what Secunia does for regular software. Should you decide to install RadarSync, make sure you get the 2009 Free Edition. You can pay $30 per year for the paid version and you'll get nothing extra for it but tech support. But why anyone would feel he needed tech support for something so simple to use as this program is, is beyond me. Here is a link to a page on where you can get the free 2009 version of RadarSync.

When I first downloaded RadarSync on to both my XP machine and my Vista machine, there was only one slight glitch. During both initial installations, the program's progress bar filled completely to the right. Even so, there was text displayed beneath the progress bar that read "RadarSync 2009 is initializing, Please wait". I waited and waited. Eventually, I had to disregard this and click the program open.

On the left of the program's interface, you'll see a list of options. Click the top one that reads Scan My System and RadarSync will begin scanning. The scan will probably take less than a minute. Soon RadarSync will show you a page that says Your PC Requires Maintenance. This page will show a list of available updates for drivers and some regular software. You can choose to download all the updates and once they're downloaded, you can choose to install them all. RadarSyncI chose not to do that. Instead, particular with the driver updates, I chose to deal with them one at a time. You want to be very cautious with driver updates. If you replace your sound card's driver with the wrong software, you may end up with a computer that can no longer play all those iTunes files you've spent money on. Fortunately, RadarSync offers you a safe way to upgrade your drivers.

How to Safely Update Drivers with RadarSync

When the RadarSync page opens displaying options for downloading updates for your drivers, you should probably go about updating them one at a time. Here's how to do that. On the right of every download option there will be blue text reading Details. Click that and read all of the information provided. From there if you click on More Info you'll see the version of the driver you have installed on your machine along with the newest version available. This should give you some idea how out of date your driver is or is not.

If you decide to update a driver click Download newest version and RadarSync will download it. But RadarSync will NOT install it until you click Install update. Once you cilck on Install update, RadarSync will offer you the option of creating a Restore Point. By all means do. If something goes wrong, you can easily wipe out the download by using System Restore to go back to to where you started. If you're unsure about how to use System Restore, click the link I provided in the last sentence and read up about it. I recently used RadarSync to upgrade the Intel Graphics driver on my three year old XP desktop computer and I could immediately see a huge improvement in speed and smoothness of operation. I waited a week and then updated my sound card driver and that went smoothly too. I would recommend that you update all of the drivers that RadarSync finds to be out of date. But you should probably download and install them one at a time and create a restore point when prompted by RadarSync to do so. After a week or so, if everything seems to be running O.K., use RadarSync to to upgrade another driver. You shouldn't have any trouble at all and the reward far outweights what very little inconvenience might be involved in the unlikely event you run into any problems.

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