Answer Best answer as chosen by user Clive_w
be careful... backup completely before sp3
Be careful upgrading to sp3. It's best to clone the hard drive if possible first. There are computers that will crash on or after the update, or have other complications. Uninstalling sp3 to go back to sp2 does not clean it up completely.
Good news, most will survive the update. I've seen a few unrelated machines that didn't handle it well, and they were not completely fixable.
As for update, I've freshly installed XP sp2 on two older machines this year. I set automatic updates to tell me before installing anything. They don't seem to get any bites, not even from the old updates available in summer 2010. I suspect Microsoft disabled the online automatic updates from answering sp2 machines, to spite users who either can't or won't update to sp3. I'm going to attempt to manually download individual updates for them, looking at those already installed on other SP2 machines that are still around. I believe there were at least 104 or more security updates from automatic updates two years ago for sp2. Thanks Bill.
As for the expert above... if you have to use or support an older machine, vista and 7 may not be options as they demand huge ram, more disk space, and faster hardware.
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