Hi John. I can't say that it is necessary for you to install SP2 RIGHT NOW, but indications are that you will need it soon.
There are several good reasons to upgrade. First off, its free to download SP2; if you prefer, Microsoft will mail you a CD, also free. More importantly, last week's malware ripple affected mostly Windows 2000 systems ... but also on XP systems with SP1.
Unfortunately there will be more to come. You are probably already tempted to upgrade because of the advertised security improvements. And you probably already know that Microsoft puts its best efforts on the newest products, so it's a good jump to make. And I don't know about you, but I won't upgrade to the new Windows OS as soon as it is on the market. I like to wait a bit to let them work out the first bugs, so I plan on using XP with SP2 for a good while yet.
Preparation for upgrading: always plan for the worst.
It happens rarely, but if it happens to you, you want to be ready. The worst would be that programs stop working, your registry is messed up, or you computer slows down a lot. For the ultimate preparation, I make a complete copy of my main drive (the one with the OS) on a backup hard drive. I use Drive Image, but Ghost is also a good program.
My personal choice for an upgrade this big (make no mistake - SP2 is big) is to make a clean reinstall on a newly formatted drive. Since I set up my computers with a C:\ drive that only houses my OS and programs, this is easy. I format the drive, install a new copy of the OS, apply SP2 and then just reinstall all my programs. If you want to get geeky you can create a slipstream copy of XP to incorporate the SP2 files. If this interests you, just google it. You'll find quite a few sets of instructions for slipstreaming.
Since most of my data is already on other drives, all I have to do is make sure to do a new backup of Quicken, my email data, bookmarks (favorites) and any icons that may just be on the desktop - like my Zoom modem setup icon. I already know that I have my CDs and program keys - you will need those too. You know what programs you use and where they are - find all your data and make sure it is saved safely. Replacing all the programs may seem like more work, but a clean OS install will run faster. You can't help but pick up junk in your registry from things like uninstalled programs.
If you don't have your computer set up like mine, you need to backup everything someplace safe and then apply SP2. If all goes well, you don't need your backup ... but now you have a complete backup! This is good. If you experience problems with the SP2 upgrade, you can restore your full backup and contemplate making the upgrade another time.
Submitted by: Merry S.
It sounds like you're fairly security conscious with the antivirus, firewalls and antispyware apps. Well done. As far as adding SP2 to your computer goes, the answer is probably. And I say probably only because there are a few apps that get broken. The good news on that is that most applications and utilities DO support SP2 or have been updated to do so.
Before going for it, it would be best to check with the vendor to see if the software supports SP2 or if any patches are required for them to keep working.
The only real non-conformist apps that are still broken by SP2 fall in the category of custom apps built for corporations. The usual reason for these problems not being fixed generally is due to money. The vendor doesnt want to do the right thing and fix the problem (for free, of course) and the corporation generally doesnt want to spend the money to pay the vendor to do the rewrite. And sometimes even the offer of money isnt enough to get the vendor to fix the problem.
The benefits of SP2
There are two main benefits:
1.) Your machine is better protected against various known exploits. Mind you, its not perfect, but it IS a general step in the right direction.
2.) Microsoft is phasing out support/new features for most pre-SP2 OSs including Windows XP up to SP1. Yes, Microsoft WILL support you if youve got only SP1, but they are herding the masses toward SP2. For instance, the new Antispyware beta requires SP2. And you can bet that new goodies (i.e.
the new modules that will bolt onto Windows XP from Vista) will likewise do so.
So the bottom line is it really necessary? Its not mandatory. You can muddle by without SP2 installed. But your machine will be at risk to a degree even with the firewalls/antivirus/antispyware installed AND you will be cut off from new technology and toys when they become available.
How to go about it...
The first thing to do is scan your computer for viruses and spyware. Be sure to do a full and thorough scan of the hard drive. Theres nothing thatll ruin your day faster than an install that goes bad because some virus or spyware prevents a file from being installed properly and trashes Windows.
And speaking of which
Just to be on the safe side, its generally a good idea to do a full and complete backup prior to doing the upgrade. Use whatever youve got to make a full and complete backup. Something along the line of Norton Ghost or Partition Magic or another, similar app that allows you to copy an entire hard drive to another partition or drive is generally best. While the installer for SP2 will back up your existing files (in case you want to or need to uninstall SP2 for whatever reason), a backup will save your hide should something go really wrong. And its generally faster to restore a backup than to reinstall Windows, all of your apps and recover your data.
If youve got a brand name PC (HP, Compaq, Dell, Gateway, etc), you might want to check the vendors web site for any updated drivers that may be available and any information from the vendors site regarding how adding
SP2 might affect your machine.
Once youve got all of that done and out of the way, then you can proceed to Windows Update and do the upgrade. Or to make life simpler for future reference, you can always download the entire SP2 package from Microsoft and burn it to CD. Either way, plan on setting aside a few hours to do it. The upgrade is rather large and will take a while to download even with broadband. A good plan would be to start the download before you go to bed and let it do that part while you sleep.
Also, if youve got a laptop, be sure to plug it into the wall before starting. The last thing you would want to do is run out of power while youre downloading or installing something like SP2. A broken download only means so much lost time but an install that goes south because the battery ran dry can really hose everything. (You DID do that full and thorough back up, right?)
Once its done installing, rebooting, etc you should be good to go.
Submitted by: Pete Z.
There's been mixed feelings about updating to ServicePack 2 (SP2), but i would definitely recommend it.
Firstly, there are some updates which are not available via windows update, such as the pop up blocker in windows xp, the add-on manager and the information bar (which they nicked from mozilla ).
According to Microsoft, this is what they have changed:
Windows Firewall, Setup, Resultant Set of Policy, Windows Update, Internet Explorer Feature Control Settings in Group Policy, Internet Explorer URLAction Security Settings in Group Policy, Internet Explorer MIME Handling Enforcement, Internet Explorer Network Protocol Lockdown, Internet Explorer Local Machine Lockdown.
I know this is a bit techy, but by looking at it, you can see that it covers mainly internet related items, which results in Improved Security.
Although most of the items in the service pack are related to security, there are some useful features (and some useless ones, like removing the professional bit from the boot screen - getting rid of the one reminder that we paid that little bit more for it ).
There's been many useful updates to Internet Explorer, such as the information bar, which puts everything in one place. Before this was in place, you had to check your third party pop up blocker to check whether that pop up that was blocked was one that you wanted, while you had a box nagging you in the middle of the screen to install an active X control. Now, you get a little yellow bar at the top, which when clicked, gives you info about which pop ups were blocked, which active x controls are needed for a page, and if any files have been started automatically, they will be sent up there for you to review. This gives you more control, as you cannot get a box popping up while typing, and typing a space (saying OK to download something completely dodgy) and infecting your computer - I had to reformat before because of this happening to me!.
Also, as I have mentioned already, it integrates a pop up blocker into IE, which although seems small, it means one less application running, and a small amount of your system resources gained back. Also, the Add-on manager allows you to control what addon programs are run with IE, which can help if one is causing your browser to crash, or if it was installed without your permission.
The biggest difference to the system after installing SP2, is the Windows Security Center. This allows you to monitor your Firewall, Antivirus and Windows Updates, all from one place. The Security Center will automatically notify you if you do not have a firewall installed (which you probably will, because it turns the XP firewall on by default, making your computer more secure when connected to the internet), if you have no antivirus protection, or it is out of date, and if there are any new Windows Updates to be installed (which there are bound to be at some point!). ** You cannot miss the security center, because it is thrown in your face after installing sp2 **
There are also lots of things happening behind the scenes, that you will never (or very rarely) get to know about, like network and memory protection.
Also, with service pack 2, you will be getting the latest drivers for your hardware. For example, sp2 comes with bluetooth drivers, which makes installing bluetooth devices easier, and newer drivers, which can come in handy if you are having problems with older drivers.
Before installing Service pack 2, Check your computer for unwanted software, as this can simply clog up your system - ie. if you have any pop up blockers installed. Also, ensure that everybody else is logged off of the computer, and that your account is a computer administrator.
** note for laptops only: ensure that they will have enough power - sometimes it will not be sufficient to install from a battery, so using an AC adapter is recommended. **
You must also ensure that your computer meets the minimum requirements (if it doesnt meet these you shouldnt be running xp anyway! but its best to check...):
a 233 mhz processor (pentium 2 recommended)
64mb of RAM (128mb recommended)
1.8gb of hard drive space during installation (for the temporary files).
You must also have one of the following operating systems installed:
Windows XP Home/Pro
Windows XP Media Centre Edition (or the 2004 version)
Windows XP Tablet Edition
You CANNOT install service pack 4 if you are using a 64 bit version of windows XP. If did not get it especially, or you do not have a 64bit processor (ie. AMD 64), then this should not be a problem for you.
Finally, remember to back up your files, as with any major update/installation, things can go wrong (ie. if you have a powercut half way through), so it is important to ALWAYS HAVE A BACKUP!
Then, once you have backed up, go to the windows update website, and download sp2. It is a good idea to stay with your computer through the install, in case you are prompted for any information. Once downloaded, just close any other programs and install... simple as that...
Submitted by: Brian M.
A service pack is basically a set of all the previous updates bundled into one. This makes it convenient to update your computer with all the latest protections in one installation. This might come in handy if you reinstall windows. Microsoft does not, to my knowledge, clearly state if continuously updating SP1 offers you all the benefits of SP2. However they recommend using SP2 over SP1.
SP2 is not just a set of updates or patches. It actually creates new and different security measures using newer software technology. It covers up a lot of holes in SP1. It has been known to protect against viruses that attacked SP1 computers even after they were patched with the specific virus protection. The Download.Ject virus is a good example of this. Microsoft issued a number of patches for SP1 to protect against this virus with little success whereas SP2 was totally immune to it. In addition, the "Windows Firewall" that comes with SP2 is a far better version of the "Internet Connection Firewall" that comes with SP1.
SP2 is also made in such a way that it makes the automatic updates run better than they do in SP1. So not only do you have the latest service pack, you even get the latest updates in an efficient manner.
Another thing to keep in mind is that updates for SP1 will cease after September 2006. You will eventually have to switch over to SP2.
There were initially compatibility issues with certain softwares. Some of the softwares that microsoft initially warned of were
Microsoft Business Solutions CRM Sales for Outlook 1.2
Symantec AntiVirus Corporate Edition 8.0
Computer Associates Network Management Software
Visual Studio .NET
Microsoft Operations Manager
Hummingbird Exceed 7.0 and 8.0
Veritas Backup Exec 9
Macromedia ColdFusion MX Server Edition 6
McAfee NetShield 4.5 Tools For The Update Tool
However most softwares work fine even after the update. I personally never had a problem. The
newer softwares are sp2 ready.
Certain types of hardware too caused a problem initially. The main problem was the blue screen of death seen after installing sp2. This was due to the BIOS of the computer being incompatible with SP2. Most computers up to 5 years old should be fine. It might be a good idea to download the SP2 by running the windows update as it will check your system configuration and tell you if your computer is fit to run sp2.
Before installing SP2 back up all your important information - documents, photos etc. This is a precautionary measure. Then run an antivirus software followed by some antispyware softwares. You want to make sure the system is clean before you install SP2 over it.
Service Pack 2 is a major upgrade compared to most previous service packs issued by Microsoft. And it has been accepted very well by the IT community. I dont see any reason not to installl it. The installation only takes about half an hour so I would do it if I were you.
Submitted by: Gary P. of Atlanta, GA
Service Pack 2 is a huge leap forward in safe and secure computing. Probably the most important service pack ever designed by Microsoft.
The first thing you notice is the introduction of a Security Centre on your PC
It is primarily designed to ensure that your Firewall, Virus Scanner and Windows Automatic Updates are always turned on and available.
There are also massive updates for Internet Explorer and Outlook Express.
To quote McAfee "Outlook Express is the biggest single culprit involved in the spread of viruses"
All new PCs now have Service Pack 2 installed as standard.
It does not take long to install and as an added bonus, you also get a great new edition of Windows Movie Maker, and the best Pop Up Blocker of all time with the upgraded Internet Explorer.
I have installed it on an EMachines 330 and the only preparation i needed was to upgrade the RAM to a minimum of 256MB
If you don't , your PC will crash because it simply won't be able to cope with the upgrade.
The only other preparation is to run your Anti-Spyware program prior to installation.
I use Ad Aware by Lavasoft. Free, fast and extremely good.
Another added bonus with Service Pack 2 is that your PC can download updates in the background without interfering with anything you are working on at the time.
When it has downloaded the updates, it installs them and even turns your PC off when it has finished.
Hope you find this helpful John and it goes without saying that i highly recommend installing SP2 to anyone.
Submitted by: Syd L. of England
SP2 PROBLEM ?
Here is my personal answer: I am not IT and my task is not to go out of the subject; there is no point in explaining all pros and cons for updating to SP2; John is asking a simple question, a concrete one, so the answer has to stick to it:
First of all:
If you do not update to SP2, you will not be able to keep your PC up-to date as the other updates are presupposing SP2 installed, only compatible with this update, whether you find this appropriate or not, there is no choice. It is not advised to do so because a lot of other programs are only compatible with Windows XP + SP2; if SP2 is lacking, the program will fail installing or malfunction.
If you do not update to SP2, some security patches created by Microsoft to prevent being hacked by an intrusive person , will not install ; this is Microsoft procedure answering to threats caused by holes in the former non patched system; moreover, remember that IE is PART of Windows , whether you like it or not , security threats caused by surfing the web are real not fictitious; there is no control about the extent to which Microsofts patches are really responding in full to this threats; gaps are discovered about once a semester; nevertheless this is the answer of Microsoft corresponding to the OS it spreads out.
There is, in short, no way to bypass the updates. The only other choice, which is no real choice is to keep your PC exposed to piracy; you may be stolen from very confidential data and anyway you do not want to know that maybe somebody you do not know may take control on your PC when he likes to do so. Updates cannot give you any complete protection but you raise the risk by bypassing the updates.
Now SP2, versus personal firewall.
What are the risks of an Upgrade: this is a serious question with no simple answer: in my case upgrading just put my configuration out of work. Period. I had to make a complete reinstall; it worked fine on another computer; I am unable to tell you exactly what happened in the first case; I would consider the following steps:
At the beginning of the install process (of SP2) a restore point is automatically created; create another one BEFORE installing; your own restore point, just in case and do backups of personal data (e-mails in particular, license Keys for your privileged software etc); if you are in the situation I met, namely, no reboot, no access to Last Good Configuration, no restore process available, you will have to reinstall Windows, then UPGRADE to SP2, then reinstall your software; in this case, the backups you did will save your life, not your time but thats it; be prepared FOR THE WORST. As you have to know, if there is a single path to the worst situation, things will evolve exactly THAT way.
Now, let us be optimistic; suppose the install process works; before installing, of course, I forget to mention, Deactivate ANTIVIRUS AND FIREWALL; this is an absolute precondition; the best would be to close all your programs but deactivation does not follow from closing Antivirus and Firewall; MOREOVER check any option in these TWO programs which decides NOT to LAUNCH them at reboot!!! So assume everything works fine; the PC reboots and before the welcome screen you will have an huge announcement that SECURITY CENTER OF MICROSOFT is now installed on your PC; you may already configure it, or which I would choose, let the PC reboot completely, that is open your desktop and go to Control Panel; you will see a new icon (you cant miss it!): thats the Security Center; after opening it you will have to make your choices; I would advocate in your case NOT TO LET WINDOWS manage your antivirus and Firewall, the first one is innocuous because Windows DOES NOT INSTALL a new antivirus (this is an option, that you may adopt or not and anyway you must install a NEW Software in this case; what is funny is that this Security Center does not always detect an antivirus if this is not the one it recommends ..!!!!) REMEMBER that DEFAULT is to let Windows firewall activated.
The most important is to deactivate any control of Microsoft Security Center on the Firewall; it will tell you that you are NOT protected; do not care about that warning.
So you are now with your new configuration; where is SP2? Somewhere in your PC; you may discover one folder in the system folder which refers to SP2 and that will be it; you will never notice it and you will be able to further update your PC.
Submitted by: Olivier G.
I think you would be well advised to upgrade to SP2. One never knows what subsequent windows updates or other software may rely on it. Personally, I held off for a long time so I could be apprised of any significant glitches that could occur.
First, I made the decision to upgrade. I started in the business almost 50 years ago and I believe that it is important to keep systems current.
Second, I ordered the free CD. I like installing from CDs and prefer them to downloading.
Somehow I think I have more control, especially if I need to reinstall.
Third, I made sure all my software, windows, drivers, and BIOS were current.
It's a good idea to do this anyway.
Fourth, I cleaned up my system. I ran spy sweeper, registry first aid, Norton win doctor and disk defragmenter.
It's a good idea to do this every week.
Fifth, I made a complete backup of my hard drive. I strongly recommend an external hard drive. If you do not have one, perhaps you could borrow one.
Sixth, I set aside some time to install the update and said a prayer.
It's a good idea to do this anyway.
I did it! No glitches.
I think those who have problems likely have not kept their systems in good order.
Remember: You can't mechanize a Mess!
Submitted by: Joe S.