I would never recommend installing a patch without testing its effect on the environment in place. Having a QA environment that mirrors your live environment will always help ensure patches work correctly. I suggest convincing your management team to approve QA equipment to mirror your live equipment in order to properly test your patches and updates. If the uptime of your live equipment is important to company revenue this should be a worthwhile investment. Of course, nothing is 100% accurate so always make sure the patch is needed before installing.
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This was first published in October 2002