While Windows Update keeps most of Microsoft's software up-to-date and patched, many other vendors do not have very good automatic updating capabilities for their programs. This means that, for example, unpatched versions of Java Runtime Environment or Adobe Flash Player might leave your Windows computer open to attacks from the Internet.
Luckily, there is a good solution for it - Secunia's Personal Software Inspector (PSI, for short). This really cool and free program from Denmark scans for vulnerabilities in Microsoft and non-Microsoft software and is able to patch most well-known programs automatically.
Version 3 of PSI is much simplified to avoid user confusion, yet smart enough not to whine about unnecessary items (such as program installers and programs not in use by Windows) anymore.
You can always see if your computer is up-to-date by checking PSI icon in Taskbar Notification Area - if the icon is green, everything is ok; yellow/orange means that a few programs are unpatched or out of date; red means that attention and manual update is required.
To open Secunia PSI, right-click its icon in Taskbar Notification Area (aka System Tray) and click Open Secunia PSI. Please note that clicking or double-clicking the icon has no effect. In Windows Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1 this will wake the most beloved User Account Control, so click Continue or Yes.
Please don't forget to check out Microsoft EMET, free protection from zero-day flaws.
After downloading and launching the setup file, PSI Setup Wizard starts with asking for installation language. Leave it to English and click OK.
Next, the usual Welcome window appears. Click Next.
In case you are upgrading from an older version of Secunia PSI, you will see the following uninstallation dialogs.
Click Next here. The setup of newer version will continue automatically after the older version has been removed.
Secunia PSI Uninstall Wizard appears, click Next.
After the uninstallation is complete, a survey might open in your default Internet browser. Click Exit this survey on the right side.
Back in the PSI Uninstall Wizard, click Finish.
Check the I accept the terms of the License Agreement box and click the ever-wonderful Next button.
As Secunia PSI is able to update and patch many programs automatically, it is very recommended to leave the Update programs automatically (recommended) option in the Automatic Update Configuration window checked. This will make your life a lot easier by taking care of all the hard work related to patching and updating.
PSI Setup asks you if you want to launch the program now. Click Yes.
In some cases, PSI 3 displays the "Unable to retrieve PSI user ID from Secunia" error upon first launch. The easiest way to work around this is to simply restart your computer.
Secunia PSI 3 offers to start a scan. Click the Scan now button.
If Microsoft Update has not been installed, Secunia PSI will warn that some missing updates cannot be detected without it. Click the Install Microsoft Update button and follow instructions. You might also want to see the Configure Windows Update tutorial.
Scanning takes some time, depending on how many programs you have installed on your computer - about 3-10 minutes is common.
If you have no out-of-date or unpatched programs, you will see the green check mark after the scan. You can click Show programs to view all applications Secunia PSI found, or you can just close the window.
In case something vulnerable or end-of-life was detected, the list is displayed in the Programs that need updating section. All items that have the "Click to update" link, need your interaction.
In most cases, the manual update opens Windows Update or a download link to the update. Other out-of-date programs will be patched immediately (this takes some time, please be patient).
Some programs might require selecting language first. Click the Select language link.
Then use the Please select the language to use for the update combo box to specify the correct localization and click the Select language button.
If you want to manually run a scan in the future, click Scan again in the bottom left of Secunia PSI window.
Since version 3 of PSI, settings have been drastically simplified to enhance user experience. The Settings button in the bottom of PSI window has just four options:
- Detailed view - this is meant for specialists who need more details on program versions and criticality levels.
- Start on boot - this makes Secunia PSI run automatically in the background after Windows starts. Keep this one turned on to enable automatic scans.
- Update handling - keep the Update (recommended) option checked to patch and update programs automatically.
- Scan individual drives - system drive (the one where Windows is installed) is always scanned automatically. If you have a separate drive or partition for programs, stop mouse pointer on the option for a while until a list of drives appears (this might take several seconds). Then enable or disable the scanning of additional drives. Please note that this list includes hard drives only, removable drives are not shown here.
Here's how Secunia PSI 3 looks in Detailed view:
In case you want to keep a specific version of a program, or you encounter a rare case where PSI is wrong, right-click the software you want to keep outdated or end-of-life and click Ignore updates to this program.
This will create a new section in the bottom of Secunia PSI window - Programs that do not receive updates.
You can easily remove any program from this section by right-clicking it and selecting Don't ignore updates to this program from the menu.
You can also check in which folder the detected program is by right-clicking it and selecting Show details.
The List of installed versions window shows all detected locations. Double-click it to open the folder in Windows/File Explorer.