What Is a Software Patch?

What Is a Software Patch?

A software patch is a piece of code designed to fix glitches, bugs, or compatibility issues between the software and commonly used hardware or operating systems.
When a piece of software is released to the general public, it gets put through its paces. People with all different computer systems and hardware start to use that piece of software and discover little problems that the programmers missed. Even though software developers test software over and over to be sure their creation is completely glitch-free, even the most skilled engineers can’t design a perfect tool.

Another common use of a software patch is to make old software compatibile with new hardware, new operating systems, or other pieces of new software. When this happens, a software programmer will create a software patch in order to increase the market for their invention and boost sales. It is difficult to make money on the millions of people who now own iPhones if your software isn’t compatibile with the iPhone OS.

How Do I Find a Software Patch?

When you notice a problem that keeps popping up with a piece of software it may be time to find a software patch. It is likely that you’re not the first to notice this issue.

Luckily, it is easy to look for software patches using the Internet. Use a Google search for “software patch” and the name of the program, such as “Windows XP”.

Software patches are usually free to download right to your computer.

Installing a Software Patch

What Is a Software Patch?

Installing a software patch is easier now than it has ever been. Gone are the days when you had to manually type in pages of commands and other instructions just to get your patch to work properly. Most of the time after downloading the software patch these days you just click the downloaded icon and a few minutes later your software is patched.

Software Patch Tips

Be careful when downloading a software patch that doesn’t come from the developer. Lots of computer games have dedicated fans who create software patches to intensify or change the game play, but a badly written software patch could create all new problems with the software.

Not all software patches are called “patches”. If you’re looking for a download that makes big changes to a piece of software, this is called a software “update”.

Some software patches may not be free — this is most common with games. When a game developer wants to expand a game (or expand their profit) they release what are called “extension packs” or just “packs”.

If you are fan of a particular piece of software that you can’t find a patch for — such as a patch to update the software to make it compatible with new hardware — you can usually request that a software patch be developed. Software programmers are thrilled to find out that you love their work and most are happy to develop something for you. To do this, contact the software developer and make your request.

This article is part of a series we’re doing on computer basics. The other posts in this series are: