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A hotfix or Quick Fix Engineering update (QFE update) is a single, cumulative package that includes information (often in form of one or more files) that are used to address a problem in a software product (i.e. a software bug). Typically, hotfixes are made to address a specific customer situation and may not be distributed outside the customer organization. The term hotfix was originally applied to software patches that were applied to live (i.e. still running) systems. Similar use of the terms can be seen in hot swappable disk drives. The more recent usage of the term is likely due to software vendors making a distinction between a hotfix and a patch.
A hotfix is a single, cumulative package that includes one or more files that are used to address a problem in a software product (i.e. a software bug). Typically, hotfixes are made to address a specific customer situation and may not be distributed outside the customer organization.
A hotfix package might contain several encompassed bug fixes, raising the risk of possible regressions. An encompassed bug fix is a software bug fix which is not the main objective of a software patch, but rather the side effect of it. Because of this some libraries for automatic updates like StableUpdate also offer features to uninstall the applied fixes if necessary.
Most modern operating systems and many stand-alone programs offer the capability to download and apply fixes automatically. Instead of creating this feature from scratch, the developer may choose to use a proprietary (like RTPatch) or open-source (like StableUpdate and JUpdater) package that provides the needed libraries and tools.
There are also a number of third-party software programs to aid in the installation of hotfixes to multiple machines at the same time. These software products also help the administrator by creating a list of hotfixes already installed on multiple machines.
Vendor-specific definition 
Microsoft Corporation once used the terms "hotfix" or "QFE" but has stopped in favor of new terminology: updates are either delivered in the General Distribution Release (GDR) channel or the Limited Distribution Release (LDR) channel. The latter is synonymous with QFE. GDR updates receive extensive testing whereas LDR updates are meant to fix a certain problem in a small area and are not released to the general public. GDR updates may be received from the Windows Update service or the Microsoft Download Center but LDR updates must be received via Microsoft Support.
"A hotfix is a change made to the game deemed critical enough that it cannot be held off until a regular content patch. Hotfixes require only a server-side change with no download and can be implemented with no downtime, or a short restart of the realms."
See also 
- Bragg, Roberta (2003). "5: Designing a Security Update Infrastructure". MCSE Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-298): Designing Security for a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Network. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Press. p. "5–12". ISBN 0735619697.
- Mu, Chris (26 December 2007). "Something about Hotfix". HotBlog. Microsoft. Retrieved 8 November 2012.
- "Description of the contents of Windows XP Service Pack 2 and Windows Server 2003 software update packages (revision 11.1)". Support. Microsoft. 16 January 2008. Retrieved 8 November 2012.
- "What is the difference between general distribution and limited distribution releases?". MSDN Blogs. Microsoft. 11 March 2008. Retrieved 8 November 2012.
- Adams, Paul (14 May 2009). "GDR, QFE, LDR... WTH?". TechNet Blogs. Microsoft. Retrieved 8 November 2012.
- "WoW -> Info -> F.A.Q. -> Patches". November 1, 2009.
- Microsoft Hotfix Website - Newly released hotfix Knowledge Base articles and introduction of Microsoft hotfix concepts