WinXP Service Pack 2 (SP2)

Yes, you want to install it. But here are some pointers on how to do it successfully.

Viruses, worms, adware and spyware:
Before you install SP2, make sure your computer is completely free of viruses, worms, and spyware. Failure to clean up spyware and adware on your computer before installing SP2 can cause issues and in some cases make your computer difficult to restart. You may not even know that spyware or adware programs are installed on your system. And some spyware or adware programs may not cause serious issues with SP2, but it's a good idea to run spyware and adware removal programs before installing SP2.

Run CHKDSK, uninstall any third-party firewall before you begin the SP2 installation. Here's an easy way to run CHKDSK from within WinXP: 
1. Open My Computer.
2. Right-click your hard drive icon.
3. Choose Properties; click the Tools tab.
4. Under "Error-checking," click Check Now. 
5. In the next dialog box, turn on "Automatically fix file system errors" and "Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors." 
6. Click Start.

AV Software:
As another precaution, before you install SP2, you need to update and then disable antivirus software you're using, and then close any open programs. This is always a good idea before installing new software, but it's especially important when you're installing a service pack. And for SP2, it's important that you disable any antivirus software especially. Some antivirus software can interfere with the SP2 installation. To disable the software, follow instructions from the antivirus software provider that you use. Check the software provider's Web site for exact steps. 

Third-party firewalls:
Uninstall any third-party firewall you're using in WinXP before installing SP2. After SP2 is successfully installed, you can disable WinXP's firewall and install the latest version of you third-party firewall program. In anticipation of this, you should acquire the latest version before stang the SP2 installation so that you already have it at hand following the SP2 installation.

Make a Backup:
It's always a good idea to make a backup of your data, but many people never do. When you're preparing for the SP2 update, it's a good time to back up your data. At least back up your important personal files. Anything that you would not be able to easily replace, whether it's your doctoral thesis or pictures of your dog as a puppy—if it matters to you, make sure you have a backup of it just in case.

System Requirements for SP2:
To find detailed information about your system, click Start, click Run, and type: msinfo32 . The first system requirement for SP2 is that you already have a version of Windows XP installed. Then you also need the following:

• CD-ROM drive or an Internet connection
• At least a 233 MHz processor and at least 64 megabytes (MB) of RAM
• At least 1.8 gigabytes (GB) of available hard drive space

Service Pack 2 applies to all 32-bit editions of Windows XP, including Windows XP Home Edition, Windows XP Professional Edition, Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, and Windows XP Media Center Edition. It does not apply to the 64-bit Edition of Windows XP. The same media or update location is used to update all supported editions of Windows XP.

How to Install SP2:
There are four basic methods of installation:

1. Automatic Updates
2. Windows Update
3. CD Install
4. Network Install

I do not recommend methods 1 and 2 because both involve live updating while online. The vulnerability of one's PC while doing such a voluminous installation, especially on a dialup connection, is too great for my comfort zone.

Methods 3 and 4 are almost identical once you get the 277 MB SP2 installation file. In method 3, you can order the CD from Microsoft for free, whereas in method 4 you download the SP2 installation file to your hard drive. In both methods, you simply run the SP2 installation file once you acquire it; method 3 you double-click the file on the CD in your CD-ROM drive, and in method 4 you double-click on the file you downloaded to your hard drive. 

Acquiring the SP2 installation file:
To order the free SP2 CD from Microsoft, go to:
The installation filename on the CD is XPSP2.EXE, however the CD includes autorun that will launch the installation for you.

To download the file from Microsoft , go to:
It's filename is WindowsXP-KB835935-SP2-ENU.exe.

[Note: the XPSP2.EXE and WindowsXP-KB835935-SP2-ENU.exe mentioned above are identical.]

Post SP2 installation steps:
Once SP2 is successfully installed, you should immediately make sure that your updated AV program is running. Then (if you choose) you can disable WinXP's firewall and install the latest version of your third-party firewall. Then do the online Windows Update (it's on the Start Menu) to get WinXP's critical updates issued subsequent to SP2's release.

Note that a recommended WinXP SP2 update is Windows Media Player 10. Since it is a voluminous installation, I recommend that you don't let Windows Update install it while online. Instead, download its 11,638 KB installation file from Microsoft and install it while offline. The installation file is available at:

Last Updated: November 11, 2004