App spots PC flaws, tells you how to fix 'em

TEST DRIVE


Pros and cons:
+    Free
+    Simple Web and client-based interface
+    Low resource requirements
–    Can’t download updates for every
product you might have


Real-life requirements:
Win9x or NT, 386 or faster processor,
8M of RAM, 2M free storage,
Internet access for updates





Users up to their eyebrows in video and sound driver updates, year 2000 software
upgrades and urgent security patches should take a peek at Update AnyWare. It’s an
easy-to-use program for keeping your system current.


Such convenience usually means pay-per-use service, but Update AnyWare is free.


The publisher, GreenTree Technologies, continually updates a list on a Web site of
drivers, patches and fixes for leading software and hardware items. When you install the
package, it spends a few minutes examining your system. It also keeps track of any devices
added later.


In one of two ways to use the program, an internal interface charts system information
with icons for out-of-date items. This method is faster but not as easy as the Web method,
which exchanges system information with GreenTree’s Web server via your browser.


Over a 56-Kbps connection, Update took about two minutes to check my test system and
display all hardware and software in need of attention.


A pop-up window listed which fixes were required, where they would come from and how
long they would take to download at 28.8 Kbps.


I check my video drivers often to keep up-to-date, but I had no idea the driver in my
test system was obsolete after a week. Update AnyWare informed me the driver could not
handle OpenGL at optimum levels. Once I got the newer version, performance did improve
remarkably.


Occasionally the program doesn’t seem to know how to update some programs, though
it can tell if they are not the latest versions. It declared my sound card’s driver
out of date but could not fetch a new one. I had to go to the card maker’s Web page
to download one myself. But Update AnyWare did tell me exactly why it was needed; if the
only thing a new driver does is fix something you never use, there’s no point
bothering with it.


Update can automatically install the new components for about 80 percent of the
programs it lists. The alternative is to download and run the self-extracting programs
yourself, which is no big deal, but I prefer the fire-and-forget method.


Update AnyWare runs under Microsoft Windows 9x or Windows NT. It is much more valuable
for Win95 and Win98 users because NT fixes already come in Microsoft’s nonstop
service pack releases.


Update AnyWare is tiny—it takes up about 1M on the hard drive despite its dual
interfaces. The only time you will notice it is when it’s fixing something else.



About the Author

John Breeden II is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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