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September 2004

Patch deployment best practices: Rushing patches isn't always better

Are you a procrastinator? If so, you have plenty of time to put off installing Service Pack 2 for Windows XP. In fact, consider this an opportunity to rethink patch deployment best practices altogether. But, this really isn't procrastinating; it's being prudent. Unless there's a worm slamming your perimeter, you shouldn't ever rush to deploy patches, hot fixes or service packs. SP2 is no exception, despite unquestionable security benefits: the default-on firewall, secure browsing and e-mail settings, and better malware resistance. This is no ordinary service pack installation; it's akin to a full upgrade. SP2 is massive--the enterprise version weighs in at more than 266 MB, and the home version is about 80 MB. Given its complexity and the inevitable application conflicts and snafus, most shops are waiting until they've completed their own testing or seen the snags hit by early adopters (see NewSCAN). As a colleague of mine said, "I never met a service pack that I wanted to blindly deploy." Let's face it: No one runs a pure ...

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