This tool is designed solely for Microsoft environments, so it is more useful to SMEs, who lack the same range of OSs as larger organizations.
Featuring one of the friendliest interfaces out of the products on test, it is dead simple to use. Scans can easily be configured and scheduled from the friendly toolbar on the left of the screen.
Even better, you do not need to install an agent application in order to scan a PC – all you need is administrator rights. The software can pull a list of machines from a Windows Domain Server, or scan Network Neighborhood for workgroup computers.
ON iPatch downloads the latest XML patch files from Symantec at the start of each scan, so stays up to date with the latest patch information. We found it was quick to scan our test PCs and even found missing patches that Microsoft's Hfnetchk tool missed.
When a scan is complete, you get a summary report detailing which patches you need to install. Selecting a patch displays its information and what it does. However, we noticed that several entries were missing further information, so you will still possibly have to visit Microsoft's website.
Once you have chosen which patches to deploy, you can download and distribute them from your server, saving bandwidth. You can also create patch groups, collating all the patches you want every PC on the network to have.
But it is not easy to use the menu option, which just offers a list of patches using Microsoft's numbering system. There is no obvious way to get further information on each patch without typing the number into Microsoft's Knowledge Base.
Once around this problem, deployment is simple. For PCs, you can just push the updates. For servers, you can create new deployment templates, which can stop servers, including SQL and IIS, before installing the patches, as well as defining when to reboot. There is also a rollback option, so you can uninstall a patch if it causes a problem.
While ON iPatch might not have the same wide range of OS support of other packages, for Microsoft environments it is easy to use, powerful and does not require any agent installation.