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WSUS Patch Management Alternatives

March 5, 2021

By Peter Barnett

Moving Away from WSUS Patch Management in Remote Working Environments

The corporate world has been through big changes over recent years, with cloud deployments and remote working emerging as the new normal in many industry sectors. How people communicate, collaborate, and create value is changing before our eyes, with existing technology solutions not always relevant to business interests. Windows Server Update Services (WSUS Patch Management) is an example of a legacy solution that continues to be eclipsed by more advanced and efficient services. There are more automated patch management tools alternative to WSUS, some of which are much better placed to meet the new agile and flexible workforce’s demands.

What is WSUS for Windows Patch Management?

WSUS is installed on Windows servers to automate patch management on Windows OS and Microsoft products. WSUS has been around since 2005. It’s the evolution of Software Update Service (SUS), a solution Microsoft developed to help IT department administrators manage updates and hotfixes released for Microsoft products used on computers in the corporate environment.

WSUS made corporations more secure by removing the need for manual patch management. With WSUS patching, IT professionals don’t have to worry about applying up-to-date patches and hotfixes. It also tracks updates, so system administrators know what updates have been applied to different machines in the network.

While WSUS patch management requires an active internet connection to deploy patches and updates, it can perform many functions offline. While not quite a revolution, WSUS simplified update management. Over the years, however, WSUS has become less efficient, less secure, and less relevant to the needs of modern organizations.

Disadvantages & Limitations of WSUS Patch Management

As a Microsoft solution, WSUS has always had a well-defined role in the business ecosystem. While its ubiquitous nature and free cost are certainly advantageous, its complete lack of coverage for certain working arrangements, inefficient scaling methodology, and inability to meet the cloud demands is a deal-breaker for many organizations.

Let’s take a look at the disadvantages of WSUS and how they are overcome with a 3rd party centralized platform for remote monitoring and management:

Complexity and hidden costs

Despite being a “free” tool, WSUS has a huge spectrum of hidden costs. From servers and hardware costs to software expenses and operating costs, the complexity of WSUS provides the perfect veil for expenses that lie beneath. While WSUS can be a simple tool, all too often, it is complex and cumbersome. As soon as your organization needs to shift to a remote workforce or a BYOD-oriented infrastructure, or basically do anything of substance in the cloud, the costs of WSUS can easily spiral out of control. The following costs are typical:

Hardware costs can include servers, data storage and backups, and network infrastructure.
Software costs can include operating systems, database management, VPNs and security, and performance tools.
Operational costs can be substantial due to the inflexibility of an on-premises WSUS solution.

Not easily scalable and difficult to use

WSUS is widely recognized as a difficult-to-use technology solution. While it can be very robust, it lacks flexibility and agility in key operational roles. If you need a scalable system for many clients, WSUS simply does not fit the bill. If you want to implement multiple endpoints and manage data and workflows remotely, WSUS can be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to use. WSUS is unable to create different patch policies for different clients, servers, and workstations. It is also unable to implement different reboot options and run pre or post-patch scripts for customization.

Difficult to set up, configure, and update

Despite being labeled as an easy-to-use solution, WSUS can be extremely frustrating when it comes to setups, configuration, and updates. There are many system requirements to meet before installation, with WSUS also failing to apply updates or sync correctly in some situations. Long-term WSUS users have long struggled with configuration and update issues, with everything but the simplest configurations lacking consistency and open to vulnerability.

Isolated from the surrounding software ecosystem

As a Microsoft solution, WSUS is very much concerned with Windows and other Microsoft products. The inability to patch non-Microsoft software updates is a huge disadvantage for many organizations, with third-party software like Java and Adobe often presenting an easy target for hackers. When vulnerabilities are not patched in third-party services, your entire organization may be open to intrusion and data loss. While WSUS can patch other applications through complex workarounds, the process is unintuitive, time-consuming, and open to risk.

Lack of flexibility for cloud environments

The growth of cloud computing has been the major defining factor of workplace evolution over the last few years. Several factors have led to this change, including significant technology advances, a pronounced acceleration in network speeds, and the global pandemic’s influence. Along with streamlining and securing existing business services, cloud migration has enabled many new and exciting opportunities, including the growth of the remote workforce. WSUS is ill-equipped to handle patching in hybrid infrastructures, let alone thrive in this ever-changing environment.

Limited endpoint visibility, management, and security

When it comes to endpoint patch management, WSUS has limited reporting facilities and poor visibility. While it may work well for simple, limited-scope, and on-site applications, checking endpoint patch status and other time-consuming tasks often need to be carried out manually. Mobile security patch deployment is a weak point, with WSUS not allowing IT staff to push patch updates and not notify users when there is an issue. Endpoint limitations make it extremely difficult to maintain consistency and uniform security coverage across projects and organizations.

Does WSUS Need To Be Replaced?

WSUS has played a central role for many organizations, helping them stay safe and secure in an ever-changing technology landscape. Over the last decade, however, it has become a burden for many businesses that work beyond the limited scope of their operational paradigm. WSUS has slowly become less relevant to the needs of modern IT infrastructure from update and configuration issues to lack of accuracy and control.

Since the birth of cloud computing and the remote workforce’s rise, more critical problems with WSUS have emerged. As an on-premises solution, WSUS is poorly placed to serve the new flexible workforce. It is isolated, not easily scalable, and unable to deal with remote endpoint management and security.

The Advantages of Cloud-Based Patch Management

As an on-premises solution, WSUS is poorly placed to serve remote workforces and dynamic IT environments. It is isolated, doesn’t scale well, and is unable to deal with remote endpoint management and security.

With a cloud-based platform for automated patch management, IT staff can install Windows updates remotely on thousands of endpoints simultaneously. It doesn’t matter where your employees’ devices are located or how many endpoints need to be protected. Here are some other benefits:

Managing Windows 10 updates in an enterprise environment is easier.

With better reporting, it’s also far more secure. You can see, in real-time, the status of all devices on the company network.

Using cloud patch management tools that live in the cloud also supports business continuity. If your servers go down or if there’s a natural disaster, your IT administrators can access your endpoint patch management software remotely with an internet connection and their login credentials.

Cloud solutions for Windows patch management can handle hybrid cloud environments, something WSUS can’t do. Your IT teams can manage device configuration settings remotely and access all your patch management functions and reporting from a single interface.

When you use a flexible solution, your IT staff can also maintain patch management policy best practices.

Maintain a consolidated and up-to-date inventory

With a flexible patch management platform, your technical teams will have better endpoint visibility. This enables enhanced collaboration between DevOps, IT, and cybersecurity staff. Everyone is on the same page about what assets in your inventory are vulnerable, what security controls are in place, and where vulnerabilities exist.

Define your patch management policy

With all endpoint security information visible from a single web-based console, your teams can easily access and update information, from scanning schedules to a list of prioritized critical updates. For more control over the automated patching process, administrators can define and enforce patch management policies specifying approval procedures, deployment schedules, and more.

Speed up deployment

With a solution that offers automated scanning and deployment, you can raise the bar when it comes to speed and accuracy. Remediating vulnerabilities quickly is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of hackers attacking your system and stealing data.

Balance Windows and third-party patch management

Patching third-party applications is just as important as protecting your operating system. A robust cloud-based patching solution enables you to update all of your business’s vulnerable apps without the traditional hassle that comes with creating manual workarounds.

About Action1

Whether you have a small business or you’re looking for enterprise-grade solutions, cloud-based patch management software solutions designed with flexibility in mind enable better patch management and better peace of mind.

Action1 is an easy-to-use, feature-rich, and affordable patch management solution. This cloud-based remote monitoring and management (RMM) platform is an excellent alternative to WSUS. It comes with a scalable and simple interface designed for managing multiple endpoints remotely.

Reduced costs and simple configuration

Action1 helps organizations significantly reduce operational overheads. As a software as a service (SaaS) platform, it is also easy to set up, configure, and update in real-time. A wide array of detailed patch management features come as standard, including deep system management and flexible patch automation.

Easily scalable and remote-ready

Action1 functions as an integrated and remote-ready solution out of the box. It has the ability to patch non-Microsoft software and secure business services across multiple endpoints in a range of remote work environments. As a cloud-native solution, it is much better placed to deal with the new operational paradigm.

Flexibility and customization

While WSUS offers a central location to check updates and patches, it lacks flexibility, agility, and control across environments and projects. Action1 allows users to create different patch policies for different clients, different servers, and different workstations. This provides an unmatched level of flexibility and control, including custom security, specified reboot options, and the ability to run pre- or post-patch scripts based on the need.

Complete endpoint management

Action1 enables complete visibility for the health and security of all managed endpoints. IT professionals can easily identify missing updates across an entire fleet of workstations, scheduling necessary tasks and automating maintenance from a central and easy-to-manage dashboard. Action1 requires no LAN, VPN, or firewall configurations to securely connect to remote workstations for assistance or unattended support sessions. Action1 allows organizations to secure remote endpoints directly and scale-up on-premise legacy infrastructures.

Action1 Features

Action1 is an incredibly robust and self-sufficient patch management solution, making it the perfect addition to any remote workforce. It’s also ideal for businesses looking for ways to increase agility. The following features are integral to the Action1 platform:

  • Patch Management
  • Software Deployment
  • Remote Desktop Access
  • IT Asset Inventory
  • System Management
  • Endpoint Security
  • Network Monitoring
  • Automation

Action1 includes a variety of robust and flexible automated patch management tools that enable easier access, control, visibility, and security of all managed endpoints. Because it exists in a lightweight cloud-based environment, Action1 has the ability to significantly reduce overheads, limit operational complexities, and transform your organization from the inside out. Start with free 100 endpoints to test Action1’s features within the scope of your organization.

See What You Can Do with Action1


Join our weekly LIVE demo “Patch Management That Just Works with Action1” to learn more

about Action1 features and use cases for your IT needs.


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