A Verwolf At the Door: Free App Keeps Programs Patched and Secure

It's an interesting idea: a free app that can be configured to automatically download and install new versions for every piece of software you own. Where Verwolf's excellent idea fails is in the execution.

Program Verwolf in order to update software more easily.
Verwolf is a needy app in that requires a bit of scripting knowledge in Verwolf's scripting format in order to tailor each app for itself. Verwolf's trick is that it examines the HTML in an app's Web site (beginning and ending with a HTML string that you specify, to help Verwolf narrow it down) for mention of a specific version number, then compares that to the existing version number of your app by looking inside the executable on your hard drive for version metadata. It does this only when you click the script and click Search for Updates. If the Web site version is higher, Verwolf grabs the new installer and runs it for you. One drawback is that if you can't find anywhere on the vendor's site where it mentions the latest version [And boy, is this common--Ed.]-or if this info is, say, in Flash format-then Verwolf won't work at all. If Verwolf can't find version number information within the app's executable, it likewise won't work. That said, Verwolf was able to extract version numbers from all the apps I tested.

What would make Verwolf ten tons better would be the inclusion of preset database entries for, say, a dozen or two dozen of the most-used PC apps. A master database is included, but it's a few entries long, and the entry for Notepad++ doesn't work as scripted. After speaking with the developer, I received a script that did work. I imported it into Verwolf and was able to download the new version of Notepad++. At the least, this script from the developer ought to be included in the app in place of the existing, nonworking one.

If you've got the patience and time to manually program Verwolf for each app you own, then it'll save you a lot of time later. There's a better alternative out there, though: Secunia PSI, which we've reviewed favorably, doesn't require scripting knowledge. Until Verwolf has a few more iterations under its belt, try Secunia PSI instead.

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