How To Uninstall a Problematic Patch: A Step-By-Step Guide

Patch management audit checklist

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Lauren Ballejos      

Let’s be honest. Patching is tedious work. In a recent patching study by Ponemon and ServiceNow, it was revealed that 65% of businesses say that it is difficult to prioritize patches. Even after applying a patch, the patch management process doesn’t end there. Sometimes, new patches create more problems than they fix. This step-by-step guide prepares for such situations and explains how to uninstall a problematic patch.

Symptoms of a problematic patch

When it comes to patching, things don’t always go as planned. There are many issues that failed patches can create, including:

  • Vulnerabilities

A vulnerability is a flaw or weakness in a security system that cybercriminals can exploit to gain unauthorized access. Today, vulnerabilities are occurring more often than before. Comparitech’s 2022 cybersecurity statistics state, “The NVD database holds 8,051 vulnerabilities published in Q1 of 2022. This is about a 25 percent increase from the same period the year prior.”

  • Failed deployments

If a patch doesn’t deploy successfully, it will not be able to serve its purpose. There are multiple reasons why patches fail to deploy, so developers usually have to troubleshoot to find the main issue at hand.

  • Devices going offline

The last thing you want to see after a patch deployment is a black screen. Sometimes, a patch will cause all devices to go offline, and other times, it may only cause a few to go offline. It all depends on the patches themselves and the devices they affect.

  • Issues/bugs within the patch

Occasionally, an issue or bug within a patch will slip through testing stages and create various problems once the patch is deployed. One option in this scenario is to fix the original patch using a new patch, essentially “patching” the patch.

  • Incompatibility with other systems

Some patches are incompatible with other systems, so when they are deployed, they don’t function properly. In this situation, even if the patch itself functions properly, an incompatible system might not run as it should

As you can imagine, all of these problems negatively affect an IT team and their entire organization. Although you might not be able to prevent some of these issues from occurring, you can minimize any damage they cause by reporting the issues and solving them as quickly as possible. One way to deal with a failed or flawed patch is to perform a patch rollback.

What does a patch rollback do?

A patch rollback reverts software back to the last version that was used or installed on a device. Essentially, it undoes any changes that a patch would have made to the software. It’s another term for uninstalling a patch.

If you have a particularly problematic patch on your hands that’s creating a hassle, rolling back the patch is one of the options you have to resolve the issue.

How to uninstall a problematic patch

The process of uninstalling a patch will vary depending on the tools you use and the patch itself. While you can use a script or powershell to manually uninstall the patch, a patch management tool makes the process much easier. For example, here are the steps you would follow to uninstall a patch using NinjaOne’s patch management software:

1) Navigate to the NinjaOne dashboard and click on OS patching

2) Under OS patching, select Installed

3) Find the problematic patch from the list of patches (tip: you can use the search bar to find patches by name, KB, patch ID, or category)

4) When you find the patch, ensure that is labeled “yes” for uninstall supported

5) Select the patch using the checkmark box to the left of the patch

6) Click the Uninstall button above the patch

7) Click Confirm to uninstall the patch

A patch management tool such as NinjaOne makes uninstalling a patch a quick and simple process. After uninstalling the patch, the software will revert back to the previous version that was used before the patch.

Patching tips you need to know

  • Set up a patch management system

Fixing flawed or failed patches requires both time and resources. With a patch management system in place, organizations can manage the patch management process easily and efficiently to deal with flawed or failed patches without wasting time and effort.

  • Consider other options besides rolling back a patch

Although rolling back a patch is an effective way to handle a flawed patch, there are other ways to resolve the issue. PDQ’s advice for rolling back patches presents these three alternative choices:

Use a workaround

If a patch creates a vulnerability, a developer can usually implement a workaround to fix the issue. Essentially, they can create a new patch to fix the problems in the old patch.

Uninstall the software

If your software and all its patches are creating too many issues that are difficult to deal with, sometimes it's best to uninstall the software. After uninstalling it, you can use a new, and less problematic, software solution in its place.

Accept the risk

Occasionally, you might have to accept whatever risks or issues an essential patch creates. However, keep in mind that this should be a temporary solution unless the risks/issues are so minor that they can be considered negligible.

  • Remember some patches cannot be uninstalled

Unfortunately, some patches cannot be uninstalled from applications. If you are having trouble rolling back a patch, check to make sure that your particular patch can be uninstalled.

What’s the best way to deal with a flawed patch?

Powershells, workarounds, and patching tools all help you to deal with a flawed patch. Is one way better, or more effective, than the rest? There is no right and wrong or “best solution” when it comes to dealing with a flawed patch as long as any issues are resolved.

The method you use to resolve the patch will depend on your specific situation. For example, if a patch is creating a multitude of issues and requires a lot of work to fix, it’s probably best to uninstall the patch. However, if the issues are minor, then a workaround would be the better choice.

Optimize your patch management system with NinjaOne

NinjaOne makes patching easy with a patch management solution that offers Windows 3rd party application patching, preemptive patch blocking, patch reporting and activity tracking, and more. From uninstalling patches to automatically identifying and resolving vulnerabilities, NinjaOne has the tools you need to make patching simple. Start your free trial to learn more.

5 Bite-Sized Ways to Improve Your Business Every Week

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Join fellow growth-minded MSPs and feed your business with new tips and tutorials delivered straight to your inbox.

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