Ninite Pro's Audit Feature
This is where things get interesting. If you click the down arrow next to the Install button at the lower-right, you’ll see there are also Update, Audit, and Uninstall options. The Audit option doesn’t install, uninstall, or update anything. It simply lets you know what version of a given program is installed on a remote PC and whether it’s the most recent version, which is quite useful.
But for sake of example, let’s say that you know that you need to update your Java, Flash, and Reader software. Make your software selections and click the Update button, and the next thing you’ll see is a color-coded window displaying the update status of each PC as it progresses. If any program can’t be updated on a given PC, you’ll see it clearly listed in red.
Note: a frequent cause for failed updates is because the program or a related program was already running. For example, the Flash plug-in can’t be installed or updated while the browser is open. By the way, Ninite Pro does its work silently and in the background so the PC user doesn’t need to be involved in any way.
Other Ninite Pros and Cons
A fringe benefit of using Ninite Pro for updates is that it automatically bypasses the cruft that you normally have to explicitly opt out of when updating software manually. (I’m looking at you, Ask.com Toolbar and McAfee Security Scan, just to name a couple.)
Ninite Pro can also suppress the desktop icons automatically created each time you install or update a piece of software (does anyone really use them?) and the annoying alerts that pop up from the notification area whenever a new update is available. To use these, look for Disable Shortcuts and Disable Auto-Updates under the Options menu when either Install or Update is selected.
Amidst all the positives, you will find a few downsides to Ninite Pro. For example, you can’t use it to update or install something that’s not on the program’s curated list of software. (Well, actually you can, but it takes extra work.) Ninite Pro also can’t update far-flung PCs connected via the Internet; if you have some computers that live somewhere other than on the corporate network, you’ll need to run Ninite Pro directly on them to do updates. Fortunately, the licensing model allows this. Lastly, it would be nice if there was a lower-cost entry-level pricing tier, say $10 per month for up to 50 machines, for smaller firms.
Quibbles aside, Ninite Pro takes a slow and tedious process and makes it fast and simple. If you spend hours each month keeping your PCs up to date, or worse, have abandoned the effort due to the time and effort required, you will find Ninite Pro an invaluable tool.
Joseph Moran is a veteran technology writer and co-author of Getting StartED with Windows 7, from Friends of ED.
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