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The IT Patch: What It Is, and Why It Matters

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If you look at IT, or information technology, you will quickly realize that it’s a vast field. There are IT specialists but few genuine experts. This is because new information technology comes out quickly, so someone who knows IT must always continue to learn about it.

Still, there are many IT fundamentals about which someone in the field should know, in addition to minor elements that they might know about, but not necessarily. The security patch is a pretty basic concept, and even someone who does not work in IT should know what this means.

We’ll talk about security patches in this article. We’ll also cover why they matter and a system you can set up to handle them within your workplace.

What Exactly is a Patch in Information Technology?

Before we talk about how to set up a patch management process, you should understand what we mean when we use the term. A patch is a word IT professionals might use when talking about a company’s online security measures. You probably already realize your business’s online security matters because you need to watch out for hackers and prevent anyone from learning your proprietary secrets.

A patch is a program modification. It’s an upgrade or solution to a potential problem that might improve security, the program’s performance, or some other feature.

Let’s say your company uses WordPress as the platform on which you build your business’s website. That makes sense since WordPress is one of the most popular website-building options.

WordPress, or Wix, or any of the additional website building platforms out there, might release a patch sometimes if they detect a security gap in their software. They might also release a patch that has less to do with security and more with the system’s overall performance. The patch might speed up your site’s loading time or something similar.

What is a Bug Fix?

You might also hear the term “bug fix” in the IT world. In many cases, an IT specialist will use the term bug fix interchangeably with patch. The idea is the same: it’s an addition the platform’s creator releases to correct a potential issue or one that people are complaining about already.

Wherever you see a patch or bug fix come out, the system for which the developer releases it has some flaw, whether major or minor. You should also know it’s almost impossible to come out with any program or software suite that will not need a patch at some point, if not several of them over the years.

No matter how flawless a system seems when a dev releases it, it will not stay that way forever. As the world interacts with it, they will often discover flaws the original developer could not predict during their initial testing phase.

Why Do Patches Matter So Much?

Let’s again use the scenario where your company has a website built using WordPress. You will probably have a site admin who keeps an eye on the website each day to see that everything runs smoothly.

You might even have a whole IT team keeping track of the site, especially if you have a larger company.

Larger companies often need more extensive and complex websites, so it makes sense you’d need a whole IT crew on the job taking care of it.

A patch for WordPress comes out. That patch might improve WordPress’s performance, or maybe it has to do with a newly-discovered security flaw.

Your company would do well to get your IT person to use that patch immediately. If you don’t, your site might not function as well as it otherwise would, or someone might take advantage of that security flaw to hack in.

They might steal all your workers’ sensitive information, like their addresses, full names, phone numbers, and even their social security numbers. You might have those because you need to report employee earnings to the IRS every year at tax time.

A Computer Program Patching System

Again, assuming you’re using WordPress to host your company’s website, your IT department should make looking for new patches part of their daily routine. Once they look at your live website to ensure it’s doing everything correctly, they should next look at WordPress’s main site to see if the devs have put out any new patches.

If they see a new patch, they should implement it without delay. The good news for you, as a company operator or owner, is that most patches do not take long to implement at all. Your IT department might be able to install a patch with a simple button click.

If the patch is more complex and requires a little coding, the IT team might need to take your site offline to install the patch. That does not happen very often, though.

If it ever does occur, they can take your site offline during the middle of the night or another time when there is very little traffic. This is not ideal if you have an eCommerce company and you rely on keeping the site live so you can get as many sales as possible. Still, if this is the only way you can fix a potentially serious problem, you need your IT crew to do it for you.

Patching is not something you frequently need a whole ton of IT experience to do. The simple, one-button patch is much more common than the more complicated variety.

You should speak to your IT department about it, though. It helps to know what system they have in place to deal with patches when and if a new one shows up that impacts your website.

Patching is a part of IT that your business needs, but it’s seldom anything about which you need to worry. Now that you know what it is, you should also realize that new patches come out frequently, and it’s unlikely they will ever negatively impact your company or website.

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