What’s Software Maintenance?

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Software maintenance involves modifying or updating a program after its release. It includes corrective, adaptive, and perfect practices, as well as preventive maintenance. Patches are often used for maintenance, with corrective maintenance being the most important. Adaptive maintenance adjusts a program to work on a new system, while perfect maintenance adds new features. Preventive maintenance streamlines future upgrades.

Software maintenance is a process by which a computer program is modified or updated after it has been released. While the term “maintenance” can imply repairs and bug fixes, only a portion of this process is intended for this purpose, called “correction.” Much of software maintenance is used for the “adaptive” work that ensures a program continues to be effective and usable in changing environments, as well as “perfect” practices that improve functionality. “Preventive” maintenance is used to streamline the process in the future by providing additional documentation and tools to make later upgrades easier to develop.

A large amount of software maintenance is done through patches created by a developer and then released to the public. These files are installed by a computer user and change the basic program functionality and design on a system. This is done after a program is released, although initial software development should consider maintenance.

Corrective maintenance of software is the process of developing changes to a program that fix bugs or fix problems. This does not add new features, unless they already exist but cannot be used due to a programming error. Only about a quarter of all software maintenance is used for corrective problems, but it is often considered the most important element by program users.

A large amount of software maintenance is referred to as “adaptive,” which is used to adjust a program to work in a new environment. Programs are usually designed and developed to run on a particular operating system (OS). While some software may run on newer versions, there are many programs that cannot. An adaptive patch to a program could alter the code to allow it to function properly on a new system, keeping it current and usable.

Perfect software maintenance is used to add new features to a product and to make changes that may directly affect a user. A company might release a word processing program, for example, that includes some spell checking functionality. If they release a patch that updates the dictionary in the program and creates more bug fix options, then that would be considered perfect maintenance. These updates are usually quite minor, as major revisions usually require the release of a new version or software “client”.
Developers can also work on preventative maintenance of the software, which is used to make future changes even easier. After development, a company may realize that there is potential for a bug that hasn’t developed yet. They may release a patch that fixes this before it actually becomes a problem. You can also do additional documentation and code cleanup to make future maintenance easier or unnecessary.

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