The Internet makes it easy for vendors to release software patches and revisions, but keeping track of changes can be a full-time job. Two new Carbonized applications, Insider Software's UpdateAgent X 10.0.4 and TechTracker's TechTracker Pro 1.2 for OS X, relieve the drudgery of searching for updates.
Cost of Entry
TechTracker Pro scans as many as three Macs for out-of-date software. The program is free, but to use it you must register with VersionTracker Pro, which costs $50 a year. In addition to offering free services, VersionTracker Pro lets you access a custom Web page that tracks revisions to any subset of your software, distinct from the updates TechTracker Pro supplies.
UpdateAgent X lets you scan all your drives or a single volume. You can also program the software to run unattended and either shut down your computer or put it to sleep when the scan is done. In contrast, TechTracker Pro examines all your disks at once and lacks a scheduling feature.
Although TechTracker Pro was slightly faster, both applications ran smoothly and took only a few minutes to inspect a 30GB hard drive containing more than 80,000 files. And both utilities found most of the same updates, although UpdateAgent X didn't inform me of a major upgrade to Adobe Premiere.
UpdateAgent X's results list distinguishes between free updates, consisting of bug fixes and enhancements, and upgrades, which you generally purchase from the vendor. You select the updates you want, and UpdateAgent X downloads their installers to your computer from Insider's servers.
TechTracker Pro's file view surpasses UpdateAgent X's in several respects. For example, a pop-up menu lets you specify the software you want to monitor, and you see two version numbers for every item--one for the software you have, and one for the update. Buttons next to the menu let you filter out applications, control panels, and extensions from the list, although I found it hard to tell when the buttons were selected. Unlike UpdateAgent X, TechTracker Pro retrieves updates from each vendor's server; that could potentially be less reliable, although I didn't encounter any significant glitches.
Macworld's Buying Advice
Even though it's less exhaustive, UpdateAgent X is a competent, inexpensive utility ideal for most home or SOHO users; the $10, one-time-only version is especially economical. If you want to find as many updates as possible, TechTracker Pro may be the better choice. With either program, you'll save hours of valuable time. m
(Note: Macworld has a marketing relationship with TechTracker and publishes a list of VersionTracker updates in each issue.)Latest Versions: TechTracker Pro makes it easy to see how far behind the times you are.