Every year Microsoft releases dozens of patches, security updates, and hot fixes. Keeping track of these items can be a real headache, especially for an overworked support pro with too much to do and not enough hours in the day. While forcing Microsoft to improve its software to the point where it never needs patching is beyond my power, our Microsoft patch-tracking Excel spreadsheet can help you manage the fixes it does release.
Why you need it
Why should you track the Microsoft patches your organization installs? First, Microsoft releases so many patches, service packs, security updates, hot fixes, and updates each year that it's often difficult to keep straight which items you've installed and which ones you haven't. Second, the next time your manager asks you how up to date your organization's systems are, you can give him or her a quick, definite answer. Third, if you're the person responsible for managing the installation of Microsoft patches and you leave the organization, there is a record of which patches have been installed and when. This will make it much easier for those who come after you to do their jobs.
Our simple, yet highly effective, spreadsheet is based on a submission from TechRepublic member Stephen Bailey and allows you to catalog those Microsoft fixes that you choose to download and install. Download this spreadsheet and then customize it to meet the needs of your organization.
There are sections for the following characteristics:
- Security Bulletin: Microsoft numbers each security bulletin (e.g., MS02-072).
- Ticket Number: If your help desk uses a call/problem tracking system, use this column to log the ticket number associated with the patch's installation.
- Name (MSKB Number): Many patches are associated with Microsoft Knowledge Base (MSKB) articles. MS02-072, for example, corresponds to the MSKB article Unchecked Buffer in Windows Shell Could Enable System Compromise (329390). Enter that information here.
- Affected System(s): There are two ways to use this column. You can either enter every application the patch affects, or you can enter just those affected systems that your organization has. While the later may allow you to save space, there's always the possibility that you could acquire a system at some point in the future, check your list for applicable patches, and not see that system listed.
- Assessment (High, Medium, or Low or N/A): Not all patches are created equal. Critical security patches should be implemented immediately, while others can be implemented more slowly.
- Response Plan Complete: If your help desk creates a response plan for each security patch installation, you can indicate the status of that plan here. If not, you can delete this column.
- Installation: Use this column to track how quickly the patch was installed.
- Date Complete: This column allows you to track the date all patch installations were completed.
- Add to standard install? (Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP): If your help desk has standard installation images for different Windows operating systems, use this section to note whether a patch should be added to that standard installation or not.
- Superseded: Some Microsoft patches are occasionally (or even regularly) superseded by a newer patch. For example, Microsoft Security Bulletin MS02-068—the December 2002 Cumulative Patch for Internet Explorer (324929)—is superceded by Microsoft Security Bulletin MS03-004—the February 2003 Cumulative Patch for Internet Explorer (810847). Use this column to indicate when a patch has been superceded by a more recent patch.
Download our Microsoft patch-tracking Excel spreadsheet
You can download our Microsoft patch tracking Excel spreadsheet by following this link or by clicking on the Downloads link in the navigation bar at the top of this page. TechRepublic has many useful documents, templates, and applications available for download, so be sure to check out our other offerings.
Our Microsoft patch tracking Excel spreadsheet was created using Microsoft Excel 2000. To increase download speed, we've zipped the file. You'll need an unzip utility such as WinZip or PKZIP to expand the zipped file. You'll also need Microsoft Excel 2000 or higher to edit the spreadsheet.
Bill Detwiler has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.