Want hands-free software updates? Try Secunia PSI 3 beta
Security vendor Secunia has released the first public beta of its Personal Software Inspector (PSI) 3, an excellent tool that now makes it easier than ever to keep your installed applications up-to-date.
The key change this time comes in what the company calls the program’s “dramatically simplified user interface”.
PSI doesn’t present you with a big list of installed software, then. There are no menus, no toolbars, no hidden options or complicated settings: just a Scan button that tells the program to start checking your applications for missing updates.
Once this is complete you’ll see an icon for every program where an update is available (there’s support for applications and plug-ins from thousands of vendors), along with a caption to give you more information about what’s happening.
If the update can be applied automatically, then it will be. You’ll see captions telling you that it’s being downloaded, prepared, installed and so on, and once it’s all finished then the icon will disappear.
Occasionally PSI will require a little more integration, but this is always kept to a minimum. When updating Firefox on our test PC, for instance, a “Choose language” caption appeared. We clicked the icon, choose “English” from a list, and it seemed this was just to ensure PSI selected the appropriate version. This was then downloaded and installed in the background, before the icon disappeared.
Several application icons were left with “Click to update” captions, presumably because the program didn’t want to interrupt them (Skype was one of these, and it was already running in the background). But again, all we had to do was click the icon, and PSI then downloaded and installed the new version.
And a single program, VLC Media Player, was left with a “Run manual update” caption, although PSI still helped out a little here: clicking that icon opened a browser window at the VideoLAN site, so downloading a new version only took a moment.
Experienced Windows users may find this interface a little too pared back, because there really are no options beyond those we’ve described. If you see PSI is updating something and you know you need to keep the old version for some reason, say, there’s no “Stop” button. There’s no option to tell the program to ignore a particular application. There’s not even a scheduler to decide when PSI should next check your system (it’ll automatically scan every 7 days).
There’s no doubt that PSI 3 is extremely easy to use, though, and we’re still hoping Secunia will provide additional controls and options for those who want them (this is only a first beta, after all). The new release is certainly worth a look, but keep in mind that it may contain bugs, and if those should interfere with an update then it could seriously affect your system. Only try Secunia PSI 3 on PCs where you’ve complete and recent backups available.