Will SP2 Crash my machine?
There’s been a lot of press about Windows XP SP2 crashing or hanging machines
or applications. The good news is that like most “news”, you only hear the bad stuff.
In fact, the news reflects only a minority of installations – the vast majority of SP2 installations are
working great. The bad news is that if you’re in that minority,
it doesn’t matter to you that it works fine everywhere else.
So what can you do to make sure that you stand the highest chance of success?
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Here are a few steps to take prior to installing SP2:
Make sure you have room: The process of installing SP2 can take up to 1.8 gigabytes on
your hard disk. That’s not how much room it will take up once installed. SP2
doesn’t take up nearly that much room once you’re done installing. However the process
of installing, including making backup files, setting a restore point, copying temporary files
around, and so on may require that much room on your primary hard drive.
Check the release notes, and known problems list: Microsoft had made a
ton of information available for Windows XP Service Pack 2, and I’ve included
links to important documents and portals below. Two of the most interesting to
review prior to installation are Release notes for Windows XP Service Pack 2,
and Some programs seem to stop working after you install Windows XP Service Pack 2.
The later, in particular, includes a list of applications that are known to have
issues with Service Pack 2. In many cases, updates or workaround are already available from the
Read Microsoft’s “Before you Install” Article:
What to Know Before You Download and Install Windows XP Service Pack 2
is an overview article that Microsoft has provided that covers several of the topics
I’ve covered and several more. In particular it includes links to step-by-step
instructions for actually installing SP2.
- Don’t Panic if an application stops working: XP SP2 includes changes that
attempt to make your computer more secure and safe from viruses, spyware, and other
malicious applications. In doing so they’ve changed the way a couple of things work, or changed the
default settings for certain aspects of the operating system. Applications that
rely on lax settings, or worse, actually rely on bugs that allowed them to misbehave
in the past are going to have problems. Use the Microsoft Support web site,
use the support web sites for the manufacturer of the software that seems to be having issues,
and use the internet to search for the fixes and workarounds that are most likely already out there.
At this writing, Windows XP Service Pack 2 has been out in the field long enough
that I feel confident enough to endorse installing it.
The vast majority of SP2 installations
have gone smoothly and without incidents.
A lot of the noise about problems is due to a small percentage of applications that were behaving
improperly to begin with, or security related changes that simply require user
intervention before being allowed to continue.
I run SP2 on my computers running Windows XP, and have had no issues.