XP SP2: FAQs from our Readers, Part 2

Dennis Faas's picture

XP SP2 Frequently Asked Questions: Continued from Part 1 ...

Q: " I already have Norton Internet Security installed and running. Does it make sense to use the Service Pack 2 Firewall or should I stick with Norton? Should I use both at the same time? "

A: It is not recommended that you run two firewalls at once, as this can cause problems with programs which rely on your Internet connection. I don't have any experience with Norton Firewall, but I personally recommend using Zone Alarm (free), as it is widely accepted among the Internet community as a very strong and secure firewall -- plus it blocks both incoming and outgoing attacks (particularly helpful if you're unlucky enough to get attacked with Spyware). Zone Alarm is covered explicitly in my SP2 guide.

Q: " I understand that the new Windows Firewall doesn't block outgoing communication to the Internet, should your computer become infected with Spyware; hence, using a third-party firewall is recommended (such as Zone Alarm). I remember reading somewhere that there is a simple MS-DOS command switch to disable the XP SP2 firewall disabled. Do you know of this switch? "

A: I'm not aware of the command switch, but I know you can disable the Windows Firewall through Network Connections via the Control Panel (right click the connection device, select Properties, then go to the advanced tab, and disable).

Q: " I've installed SP2 and have problems accessing my USB digital Camera with the associated camera software. Help? "

A: There are reported USB 2.0 issues after the initial SP2 install. You may need to unplug / re-plug the device to get XP to recognize the device and reinstall the driver. If this doesn't resolve your problem, check the manufacturer's web site for a driver update. A systematic approach to USB troubleshooting is explicitly detailed in my SP2 guide.

Q: " Ever since I downloaded the service pack 2, the 'LAN connection' icon at the bottom of the PC reports 'limited or no connectivity'. There is a yellow caution symbol over it with an exclamation point . What do I do to correct this problem? "

A: If your Internet access runs off your USB connection, unplug the USB cable and plug it back in to reinstall the driver. You can also refer to the PC Hell web site for more info on resolving this issue.

Q: " I have tried to install Windows XP Service Pack 2, but after installing SP2, I could no longer access the Internet. I kept receiving a message 'cannot find server' on all sites through Internet Explorer. "

A: This has been a frequently asked question, and I believe it has to do with a registry problem. Refer to this previous Gazette article for more information.

Q: " After installing XP Service Pack 2 on my system, all I get is blank boxes where pictures used to be in emails (every time I launch Outlook Express). Why is this happening? "

A: This is a new security feature in Outlook Express, designed to block 'web beacons' which spammers use to verify your email address. To get around this, see this previous Gazette article.

Q: " I understand that I can get Windows XP Service Pack 2 CD for free from Microsoft. Subsequently, a number of tech articles that I've read recommend that I get the Service Pack 2 CD versus downloading SP2 from the Internet. Can you explain why this is so? "

A: SP2 can be installed a number of different ways. Having SP2 on CD provides numerous benefits, including: convenience, portability, stability, and slipstreaming. For further information (in greater detail) see this previous Gazette article.

Q: " I've tried to install SP2 numerous times to my computer and it was a nightmare. I had to repair / reinstall XP multiple times [over top of itself], and in the long run, chose to uninstalling SP2 ... 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 from the Windows Update web site. "

A: When SP2 failed to install the first time, you should have opted format your hard drive and reinstall SP2 on a clean install of XP (rather than issuing a repair / reinstall over top). This should have resolved your issue. As for choosing not to install SP2 and downloading fixes as they become available: I highly disagree with these sentiments. Hot fixes for pre-sp2 systems are simply a 'band aid' approach to resolving XP's vulnerabilities. Service Pack 2 addresses major flaws in Windows XP and cannot otherwise be downloaded from the Windows Update web site as a hot fix. For further detail into this issue, see this previous Gazette article.

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