One of the vulnerabilities computer users face is the number of software programs that are not updated. While Windows will remind you to update the operating system, and I recommend allowing Windows 7 through 10 to update automatically, most of us have up to 70 programs we’ve installed that are not updated. The reason they are not updated is that the programs will check for updates only when they run.
But those programs represent a security risk, even lying dormant on your hard drive. There are a few solutions to this, and the first is best: delete any program you are not using regularly. The second rule follows the first and is automatic: run every remaining program at least once a week to check for updates.
Follow those two rules and you are almost set. You still have to remember to delete unused programs and let’s face it, you will install some free program with the full intention of using it frequently and forget about it. If that sounds familiar there are some utilities that can help. Monitoring systems such as my own Acumen Advisor will monitor your programs and update them in the background. There are paid utilities that do the same thing, that run on your computer. For personal use only, Secunia’s Personal Software Inspector or “PSI”, is often recommended as a free option.
Please note that PSI is not allowed to be run on business computers. Violating the license terms of software may seem trivial to you if you are a sole proprietor, but you can be sued. And not just by the software company itself; if a client decides to sue you they can make it seem like you are unprofessional and negligent for not using the right type of security software. This is especially important if your business computer has any kind of client data that would fall under privacy laws or FTC guidelines like the GLB Act.
But you can certainly use a utility like PSI on your personal computer, and those other computers in your household as the terms of service provide.
You register and then download the program from the company’s website. This process is straight forward, and doesn’t require a delay between registering and accessing the download. It is available immediately after registering. After download you run the program and agree to the terms of service shown above.
The first hint of trouble was when it was finished installing, and it asked if I wanted to open the program and run a scan for outdated software. I clicked “Yes” and received an error notice that the program could not validate the user against the database. Closing the program and starting it from Windows start menu by searching for “PSI” allowed it to start. Before I scanned, I noticed the PSI icon in the system tray with the erroneous message “All programs are up to date”. If you installed the program, ran into the validation problem, but then found and hovered over the system tray icon you might think it has done its job already.
You would be wrong. You have to initiate the scan and then use the program to update the software that is not updated.
So we started it on my wife’s laptop running Windows 10 and it ran for several hours, progressing through “scanning” to “retrieving” something or other. We went to church, then grocery shopping, then ate lunch. Nearly five hours later I bailed out of the scan and my wife used her laptop. I decided to try the process on my HP laptop running Windows 7, and experienced the same problem when trying to start after installation, The PSI icon in the system try (pictured above) had the same erroneous reassuring message. The program started and I needed a cup of coffee, so I stopped it, and when I came back to restart it I was faced with the “Loading” screen. After 30 minutes I tried to start it again on my wife’s Windows 10 system and faced the same issue. After 20 minutes I rebooted her computer and tried again.
I like the idea that Secunia has here, and I had already left an email in regards to pricing on their Corporate version for very small companies. But for now, I can’t recommend the program even for personal use. One of my standards is that if I can’t use it, I can’t recommend it.
So it was to the Add / Remove Programs page to remove it. At the end of the uninstall process a survey asked why it was being uninstalled. These surveys are not free, so it shows the company is serious about wanting to know why even something they give away free isn’t being used. I will update this post if they get back to me, and let you know if I simply was doing something wrong during installation.
Your certainly free to try the program from them; it did uninstall cleanly as far as I can tell, and they are a solid, reputable company that didn’t try to install any unwanted toolbars or anything like that. Please let me know if you use it, and if your experience differs from mine in the comments.
The only free program I have found that can be used on both business and personal sites is the very capable Patch My PC (link leads to my review on this site).