Free online tool takes care of annoying updates for your computer
(Caption: A screenshot of the Ninite download service. Peter Vogel writes that Ninite is incredibly helpful for the average PC user. Photo credit: Ninite.com)
One of the least pleasant tasks for owners of Windows PCs is keeping those machines updated; not so much on the operating system side, mind you; Windows updates is
supposed to take care of that more or less automatically.
No, it's all those utility programs, such as Java, Skype, Google Earth and many more that owners have installed on these Windows boxes. How does one keep them all up to date?
Enter Ninite, a service that bills itself as one that can install and update all your programs at once. Ninite, operating out of San Francisco, draws most of its attention from millions of home users, the likes of you and me, who will make use of Ninite's free tool.
However, the time-saving features of an all-in-one-updater have clearly resonated with the corporate world, and Ninite notes that its bills are paid through a pro version used by subscribers like NASA, Harvard Medical School, and Tupperware.
Using Ninite couldn't be simpler.
Step 1: go to the Ninite site at http://ninite.com.
Step 2. Choose (by check box) which of the 92 programs and utilities, divided into 13 categories, you'd like updated or added to your computer. Step 3: click on "Get Installer." That's it. Sit back and let Ninite take care of the rest.
On a recent visit to the site I noticed that I could scroll through a lengthy list of recent updates. For instance four applications had been updated within the past day, among them Foxit Reader and K-Lite Codecs. Since I use these I updated them on the spot.
Ninite's service automates pretty much everything in the updating process. More important, it rejects all those commercial add-ons, the free Google and Ask taskbar requests, usually checked off by default, that we've come to detest.
Applications are installed to their default locations, 64-bit applications are installed when appropriate, system reboot requests from the applications are ignored, and all content is downloaded from the official publisher sites. Digital signature verifications are carried out before anything is installed.
Users also have the option of installing these applications in languages other than that of the PC.
Let's take a glance through those 13 categories that Ninite manages. I'll list one or two common applications from each. If you spot several you know to be on your Windows computer then Ninite may well be a time-saver for you.
-- Browsers: Opera, Firefox.
-- Utilities: TeamViewer, Classic Start.
-- Messaging: Skype, Thunderbird.
-- Media: VLC, QuickTime.
-- Runtimes: Java, Silverlight.
-- Compression: 7-Zip.
-- Imaging: Picasa, FastStone.
-- Documents: Reader, PDF Creator.
-- Security: Avast, AVG.
-- File Sharing: qBittorrent.
-- Other: Evernote, KeePass 2.
-- Online Storage: BitTorrent Sync, Dropbox.
-- Developer Tools: FileZilla, JDK.
Again, I'm only listing a few of the nearly 100 applications you can update through Ninite. Do check it out if you have a computer running Windows (any of the versions from XP and up).
A somewhat similar service to Ninite, and one I first mentioned in this space nearly a decade ago, is FileHippo.
It uses a very small Update Checker file that scans your computer for a list of installed applications and then matches those with the database it maintains. Still have a Windows 98 box? It will even scan that one.
From the returned match list the user then lets FileHippo install any applications that it identifies as having updates for those already present on the system. It does not install new applications, at least not from the automated checker. These can be installed individually, however.
FileHippo http://filehippo.com has recently revamped its web site and now also offers a Mac service.
So there you have two choices, both free, to simplify the updating of your PC. Give one or the other a try.
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