XP SP2: Welcome to my Nightmare

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Suzie B. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I've been keeping up with the buzz in your newsletter about Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2). Although I haven't downloaded your SP2 Fail-Safe Install Guide, I would like to make a comment on my nightmare-ish experience with Service Pack 2. When I heard about the extensive features and benefits of Service Pack 2, I thought it sounded great -- and so decided to install it onto my machine.

And that's when my nightmare began.

The first time I tried to install Service Pack 2, it took a few hours to complete the install. When it was all said and done, I couldn't reboot my machine and get back into Windows XP desktop. I ended up doing a system restore (which put my machine back to a state before I installed Service Pack 2), and everything seemed OK. However, when I visited the Windows Update web site, Service Pack 2 downloaded onto my machine again. I decided to try again; this time, the install went a little faster -- but Windows Media Player stopped working properly after that. I've reinstalled Windows XP a few times since then and opted to download the hot fix updates via Windows Update web site (minus the Service Pack 2 update).

In conclusion, I refuse to Service Pack 2 because I feel that it is more trouble than its worth. In my opinion, if you have good computer security (Firewall, AntiVirus), you don't need Service Pack 2 ... for now, I'm happy just downloading the hot fixes. "

My response:

Thank you for your candid remarks. I would like to point out, however, that the unfortunate events that you endured could have been avoided if you reverted your system to a working state using another method.

As I mentioned previously, Service Pack 2 failed to install on my machine the first time I applied the update. However, rather than issuing a Restore / Repair -- which, by the way, has about a 50% chance of working properly and can severely 'muck' up any future Service Pack updates -- I opted to restore a disk image backup I made from when I installed Windows XP *fresh* on my computer. In essence, the image backup I used wiped out [formatted] my hard drive, and copied a brand new install of XP back onto my system.

I realize that not everyone has a backup of their system when they first installed Windows XP (like I do); and so, for all intents and purposes, formatting your hard drive and then installing XP to your system -- clean -- would provide you with the same result. After XP has been restored, you could have tried applying SP2 again (or not); this would have been the proper approach to dealing with a failed SP2 install -- and chances are, SP2 would update without so much as a hiccup.

RE: SP2 failed for me, too -- but two times was a charm!

Ever since I installed SP2 the second time (on a fresh install of XP), I haven't had any problems with my system. I am now enjoying the benefits that SP2 has to offer, and have piece of mind knowing that my system isn't going to require a band-aid 'hot fix' for any newly discovered exploits. The opposite would be true if I chose not give SP2 a second chance.

At this time I would like to point out that the eBook that I wrote on installing SP2 goes through 16 critical steps on how to 'clean' your system before applying Service Pack 2. But, even if that fails, the guide also explains what you need to do to revert your system properly and get SP2 installed successfully. You can read more about the guide online our site:

Major Announcement: XP Service Pack 2 eBook release

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