Friday, April 3, 2015

What are hotfixes, Cumulative Updates and Service Packs?

No matter how hard the software has been tested, issues can be still encountered. Same applies to Microsoft SQL Server too and that is the reason we see numerous releases on same versions. These releases are published as a Hotfix, a Cumulative Update, or a Service Pack but what is the right time for applying these, should we apply them as soon as they are published?

Let's try to understand each of these SQL Server updates;
  • Hotfixes: These are built and released for addressing urgent customer concerns. Most of the time, this is done based on an issue reported by a customer (or few customers) and the fix is released immediately. Since this addresses a particular issue and the release is done in a urgent manner, not much testing is done hence it is not recommended to apply a hotfix to a production environment as soon as it is released unless the same issue is being experienced.
  • Cumulative Updates: Cumulative update is a bundle that holds a periodic roll-up releases of hotfixes. This goes through a test comparatively higher than testes done for each hotfix and the bundle is tested as a whole. In a way, this is more secure and advisable to apply rather than applying hotfixes individually. However, if possible, it is always better to wait till a service pack release as explained below.
  • Service Packs: Service pack is a periodic release that addresses many issues which may have (or may have not) addressed with previous hotfixes and cumulative updates. This goes through a thorough test and it is safe to apply this to production environment. 

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