[DAYS_LEFT] days left of your Medeconomics free trial

Subscribe now

Your free trial has expired

Subscribe now to access Medeconomics

Data management - Managing software updates

Dr Neil Paul explains how to avoid the problems that software updating can cause busy practices.

Dr Neil Paul: 'In a surgery with 30 computers, if each of them calls "home" at 8am asking for updates, is it any wonder the internet is slow?' (Photograph: M Jones)
Dr Neil Paul: 'In a surgery with 30 computers, if each of them calls "home" at 8am asking for updates, is it any wonder the internet is slow?' (Photograph: M Jones)

Are you driven to distraction by messages telling you to update your computer?

My bugbear is a message telling me my updates are installed and I need to reboot my computer. It usually starts telling me this from about my third patient of the morning surgery and then repeatedly throughout the morning, despite me telling it to go away.

The next most annoying thing is when I come to give a demonstration in our conference room to find that the computer needs an hour to update or the latest software that I want to show is not on it.

Updates are necessary
Let's face it, updates are necessary. Nothing is perfect and most software certainly isn't. Developers put out updates as a way of fixing bugs they have created hopefully by accident, fixing security breaches that they had not anticipated and adding new features. Updates to virus checkers and security software are important.

The downside is updates can bring new bugs, take away things you like or put in features you don't. They can also cause overhead problems. In a surgery with 30 or so computers, if each of them calls 'home' at 8am in the morning asking if there are updates, is it any wonder the internet is slow?

Here are some things to discuss with your IT support team.

Can your updates be set to happen at lunchtime rather than first thing? This has the knock-on effect of speeding up the morning switching on of the computer.

Alternatively some software has the ability to update at a random time after coming on so that not all the computers are doing it at once.

Stagger the updates
Can you encourage your clinical suppliers not to push out updates on a Monday morning just before one of the busiest sessions of the week?

Some big updates can be downloaded once either to a central server in the practice or possibly the PCT and be pushed out over a local network rather than each computer using valuable bandwidth.

Microsoft updates in particular can be managed centrally. An experienced IT support team can even test bed the updates on a limited number of machines first to make sure they do not do any harm before pushing out to all machines - are yours doing this?

Special software exists that can interrogate all your machines to see what version of key software they have on them. This can be useful for knowing where different machines are up to across a large practice or, if you are on a shared network, with other practices.

Sometimes there is nothing better than just having a list of all the computers and going around them one by one or having someone tasked with turning on machines that are used infrequently and letting them update when no one is using them.

  • Dr Paul is a GP in Cheshire

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles
and free email bulletins.

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.

Database of GP Fees

Latest Jobs