ARCHIVED: What are patches, hotfixes, and service packs?
A patch is a program that makes changes to software installed on a computer. Software companies issue patches to fix bugs in their programs, address security problems, or add functionality.
Hotfixes are Microsoft's version of patches. Microsoft bundles hotfixes into service packs for easier installation. To keep your Windows computer secure, keep your operating system up to date with the latest security patches and service packs; see Microsoft Windows Update.
Note: Indiana University students, faculty, and staff can also download the latest Windows service packs from IUware.
Other companies have also adopted Microsoft's nomenclature of hotfixes and service packs for updates to their own software. Sometimes, a hotfix refers to a patch that can be applied without restarting the system. This is particularly useful when the system provides a critical service, such as a web server.
In Mac OS X, software updates and patches are typically applied through OS X's Software Update application. Mac users can also manually download such updates from Apple's Support Downloads page.
Last modified on January 03, 2013.