There is currently no easier way to do it, and you are the only member who has posted about having difficulty more than once, so it's possible that something on your server is the problem. I updated all of the responsive downloads by installing each shaper & then running the autopatcher, and I didn't have any issues with any of them, so without knowing which theme you were trying to patch and what error you got, there's no way for me to know what could have happened.
Just to make sure that you're definitely doing the patch correctly, here's the easiest method:
1. Download the Vertex Upgrade Patch
and extract it to a folder on your computer
2. Back up the vertex/footer.php file from your theme.
3. Delete the vertex folder from your theme.
4. Upload the patch through FTP (make sure your FTP client is set to "Binary" mode for transfers, any other setting can cause file corruption).
5. Restore the backed up footer.php file into the vertex folder.
An even easier option would be to back up any files that you've changed (including the vertex.json file in the theme folder), and re-upload the theme after downloading the latest version.
The patch, and autopatcher, will only work with the responsive releases; any release older than Corporate Response is running a completely different version of the framework and cannot be fully updated just by patching, as they are not currently compatible with the latest version of the framework, and I haven't had time to manually go through the code of each old release in order to fix conflicts.