Your Guide to Choosing the Best WSUS Alternative

Find the best endpoint management tool for the needs of the modern workforce


For most, Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) is the first solution organizations will look at when exploring their options for automated patch management. As a legacy patch management platform, WSUS has been around for a long time and is still one of the most commonly used patch management platforms. However, being the most common choice doesn’t make it the best choice. 

While WSUS is “free” and certainly has advantages over manual patching, there are plenty of alternative patching platforms on the market today — many of which are specially designed to meet the needs of the modern workplace. WSUS is good at what it does; however, it was built for a different era and struggles to keep up with the needs of more current infrastructure. 

While WSUS has many drawbacks, there are some features that organizations may find desirable — such as the ability to locally cache updates within their environment. Local caching allows administrators to ensure that updates are only downloaded once, saving bandwidth on internet connections. Preserving local caching is important for many organizations, however, the limitations (and frustrations) of WSUS can still be addressed without losing those capabilities.

Automox is a cloud-native, cross-platform patching solution that can be used directly with WSUS. As a modern patch management platform, Automox provides an array of desirable features not seen in legacy patching solutions. With Automox, users can automate tedious tasks, such as creating patch status reports, and have confidence in reporting accuracy. 

With proper configuration, Automox and WSUS can work together to create a better overall user experience without sacrificing local caching abilities. While Automox will work with WSUS configurations natively right off the bat, organizations will likely need to configure their WSUS environment to properly integrate with Automox. Many of these settings will be dependent upon a company’s individual environment, however, the end-goal is to set WSUS up to locally cache updates, while the Automox console will administer these updates. Once the integration is complete, organizations can have the best of both worlds: a modern, cross-platform patch management solution that’s easy to use plus local caching capabilities. Updates can then be managed directly from the Automox platform.

One of the defining features of WSUS is that it’s a free tool installed on Windows servers, which makes it fairly easy to obtain. However, tools like WSUS can be difficult to configure and maintain. On-premise patching options struggle to keep pace with the needs of the modern workplace in many ways and being tied to a server is one of them.

On-premises patching solutions require a connection to an organization’s network from inside the firewall or a VPN connection for patching endpoints. When WSUS was first created, remote endpoints were scarce, but today, employees are using multiple devices to get work done at the office as well as from home.

Patch all your endpoints without the inefficiencies and complexities of a VPN.

Because remote work is far more common, there are more remote endpoints to manage and secure. On-premises patch management solutions are not ideal for patching remote devices due to their reliance on virtual private networks (VPNs). 

VPNs are costly, and they may struggle to handle increases in network traffic. Slow VPN connections can make it difficult for remote workers to connect and receive critical security updates — if they even bother trying. Frustrations with VPNs can build, and employees may even put off connecting entirely.

In addition to difficulties with patching remote devices, organizations may find that maintaining on-premise patching solutions is a real pain point. IT staff must dedicate time and resources to the maintenance and configuration of an on-premise system, and there are many tasks which still may need to be done manually or with separate tools. For example, IT staff may need to configure and maintain WSUS as well as multiple other tools for patching alternative operating systems and third-party applications. Configuration and maintenance alone can become arduous and overly burdensome if there are too many tools needed to complete the same task.

Patching without the headache of servers and VPNs is possible with cloud-native patch management platforms. Cloud-based patching platforms do away with cumbersome servers and do not require routine maintenance. Updates in functionality can be implemented automatically without any user-end frustration and the cloud-native approach makes platforms like Automox easy to set-up and maintain. Automox can be installed on virtually any device, giving users the ability to ensure patches are deployed seamlessly across every endpoint on their network, no matter where those devices might be located.

When you’re looking for tools to extend your WSUS patching, or wanting to evolve past WSUS entirely, be sure to choose a solution that checks all the boxes. Here’s a high-level listing of what to consider when choosing a patching and endpoint hardening solution that meets the needs of your evolving workforce — today and in the future. 

1. Remote workforce without the VPN
Today, more workers operate from remote locations than ever. WSUS can only ensure all those remote endpoints get patched when they connect to the corporate network via VPN.

Automox, on the other hand, patches automatically every time a device is connected to the Internet.

2. Native cross-platform support for the latest Windows, macOS, Linux, and popular third-party applications
Vulnerabilities also exist in non-Microsoft products. Yet WSUS does not provide simple, straightforward options for updating anything but Windows software. Automox does, providing out-of-the-box support for other OS and third-party applications. Now, you can feel secure in your other business-critical products like Java, Adobe Chrome, and more.

3. Cloud-native console
Leverage a SaaS solution to reduce your reliance on on-premises hardware and software, increasing your agility to manage patching from any device, anywhere.

Automox uses a single cloud console that offers full functionality to manage all your endpoints.

4. Multi-location support across geos from a single interface
Have full visibility of all your corporate endpoints from a single interface that manages multiple locations and remote workforces — with no additional requirements.

Automox’s cloud-based solution reduces the complexity and cost to keep distributed workforces patched and protected.

5. Infrastructure-free architecture
Choose a cloud-based solution that doesn’t require investing in expensive hardware or planning hours on routine server maintenance.

With Automox, no additional hardware is required. Commands are sent directly from the cloud to the supported endpoints with no need for an on-premise server.

6. Granular, cloud-based control
While providing the ability to create groups of devices to target for patching, the WSUS functionality can be quite limited.

An alternative solution should provide the ability to create more granular and controlled patch schedules, and assigning device groups to them should be intuitive

7. Reliable, real-time reporting
With one glance at your Automox console, you can be certain your endpoints are up to date and your inventories are accurate.

You can’t say the same about your WSUS reporting, which is notorious for showing results that a manual scan will contradict.

Experience modern, cloud-native patch management today with a 15-day free trial of Automox and start recapturing more than half the time you’re currently spending on managing your attack surface. Automox dramatically reduces corporate risk while raising operational efficiency to deliver best-in class security outcomes, faster and with fewer resources.

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