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I have up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Do I still need SP2?

If I have a recent McAfee Security program installed and
running do I need SP2 for XP windows too? I’ve been told they conflict with one
another.

In a nutshell: yes you do.

Anti-virus, anti-spyware and even firewall software are only parts of the
picture. Without staying up to date, you may still be at risk.

Let me explain why.

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SP2, and patches subsequent to SP2, remove vulnerabilities in Windows XP
that viruses can exploit to cause problems. Anti-virus and anti-spyware
software will protect you if the virus reaches your machine – but they’re not
perfect. The vulnerability could be exploited before they detect there’s a
problem, and they’ll only detect known malware … if a new virus comes along
that takes advantage of something that SP2 fixes, but you didn’t apply SP2, you
could be severely out of luck.

New viruses appear every day, and many seem to rely on exactly that – people
not keeping up to date. Many infections are the result of people simply not
applying all the patches that are available to protect their systems.

As to your concerns about incompatibilities – yes, at the time SP2 was
released there were several reported problems with respect to some programs.
But by now all the major anti-virus and security packages have been upgraded to
work properly with SP2.

So the bottom line is:

  • Yes, you should make sure your security software is also up-to-date and SP2
    ready.
  • Yes, you should install SP2.

As I said, this is all a part of a larger strategy I’ve covered in an
earlier article: How do I keep my
computer safe on the internet?
.

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