Update Software, Backup CDs & Operating System

by JL Beeken on 7-31-2011

In an effort to clean up lately I’ve found an easier route to update software. I tried Update Notifier but I like this better.  It’s under my immediate control and doesn’t require additional software that might give me only partial results.

I keep a copy of all software installers and hardware drivers on my computer. I do this because if my computer crashes I have my updated installers backed up to an external hard-drive and handy to start over with. Or even if it doesn’t crash and I decide today’s the day to reinstall the OS. Otherwise I have to download software while I’m trying to get my computer back together. It makes for a very long day.

Even updating software en masse makes for a long day. Some software updates automatically without leaving a trace. Some of it doesn’t update unless you go looking for it.

Going through software over and over searching their names online is tedious. Some of it is hard to find.

What I’ve been trying to do lately is establish systems for anything repetitive. Call it age. Call it laziness. But repetitive tasks get on my nerves. Or as my cousin in Georgia would say, “my last remaining good nerve”.

Update Software

I have my software installers divided into three folders; Software-Free, Software-Purchased and Software-Portable.

Software-Free

Update Software List

Anything where I might forget the name of the installer because it’s not obvious I put it in a folder so I can remember.

If you don’t already have a list like this, you can find all your software under All Programs and work from that list.

The following only has to be done once.

After throwing out the junk, I looked up each of the programs and then bookmarked the download page.

Update Software List

(Downloaded the latest version of the software while I was at it.)

The next time it comes up on my calendar as a bi-weekly to-do, all I have to do it is click through the bookmarks on one monitor while viewing my software list on the other.

Click download. Install the update. If I don’t like it, revert back. Then, either delete or overwrite the old installer.

Software-Purchased

Software-Purchased includes downloaded software and copies of software on CD. I keep copies of all the disc content on my hard-drive. No reason not to nowadays with the large size of computer hard-drives. The discs now have a backup and it’s a small matter to do it. Put the disc in the drive, right-click for Open and copy the files to a folder.

CD Backups

A small tip for online backup users. I can’t speak for all but Carbonite does not automatically back up .dll files and other obscure things that tend to show up in software installers, so rather than pick through one file at a time telling it to, just zip the whole folder and be done with it.

Similar routine. Some of this software is never going to update, like EverNote 2. Some of it, like Legacy Family Tree, updates regularly but doesn’t leave the installer on my desktop. Again, anything where I can check for the latest installer, it goes into my bookmarks. Anything where the software updates by downloading the installer to my desktop, great! I bookmark those anyway so I can go read the What’s New page.

Software-Portable

I have PortableApps installed in my Dropbox and run about 60 portable apps from there. PortableApps has just released the 2nd pre-release of a new version of the PortableApps platform. This version includes an automatic updater, so I will no longer be visiting the site weekly to see what software needs updating. It will tell me. So, that makes it incredibly efficient.

Not every one of my portable apps comes through the PortableApps site, though, so I add those to another bookmarks list, Updates-Portable.

That about covers it. How to update your software easily, keep the installers on your computer and keep in touch with what’s actually on your computer.

OS Backup

This is a bit off topic but part of my CD collection and yours too likely.

I now have two computers for which I have only home-made backup operating system discs. You know the routine where you have to make your own OS backups before you start using your new computer.

I suppose this is a good idea in that it keeps several bazillion discs out of the landfills but it’s not exactly a good backup plan. Discs are notoriously unstable backup media.

So, it would be a good idea to copy all these files as well to your hard-drive and then onto external hard-drives.

I don’t know if it’s possible to reinstall your OS from an external hard-drive having never tried it, but in a pinch at least you’d have a backup to burn to disc on another computer if your original discs failed.

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