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9/2/05 Upgrading to Windows XP SP2: yes or no?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / September 1, 2005 3:12 AM PDT

Happy Friday everyone!

Thanks to all of you who contributed to this week's topic. Many of you wrote some outstanding answers to John's question. And I hope these opinions, recommendations, and tips from our members will prove to be helpful when it comes time for any of you upgrade to Windows XP SP2. So read them all!

Members, if you have more questions, or additional advice on this topic, by all means feel free to post them in this thread below. It?s all up to you as a community to contribute and learn from one another. So keep on posting.

Thanks everyone and have a great weekend!
-Lee Koo

Question:

I am running Windows XP SP1 and wonder if it is really necessary to upgrade to SP2. I keep up with the critical upgrades from Microsoft, but they keep on bugging me to install SP2. I use ZoneAlarm, AVG AntiVirus, and several antispyware programs. I also am behind a Linksys router with a firewall. Do I really need to install SP2, and what are the benefits? If you say it is necessary to move forward to SP2, are there any specific things I need to do to my computer before upgrading?

Submitted by: John T. of Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Answer:

John,

A Service Pack is essentially a collection of fixes and enhancements released by Microsoft during (roughly) the previous calendar year. Service Packs are not merely for users who fail to keep up with critical updates, though, as they come in quite handy under certain circumstances. For instance, if you upgrade your operating system to Windows XP, have to reinstall it on a new hard drive, or find yourself performing a repair or a reinstallation, a Service Pack facilitates matters considerably. Not only do you find everything you need in one place, it also saves you from downloading dozens of patches individually, many of which would require you to install them one at a time and restart your machine afterward!

Having said that, it is quite reasonable to wonder whether a Service Pack ought to be installed if one has kept up with critical upgrades. If it ain't broke, why fix it, right?

If, in fact, all critical patches and fixes are already installed in your PC, the only thing the Service Pack will add are the new enhancements. The SP2 installer will not download files already installed in your PC, so you need not worry about duplicate files. The question then is, are the enhancements worth the hassle? In a nutshell, yes.

Some of the "enhancements" found in SP2 are minor and subtle, such as slight changes to the default settings in Outlook Express and Internet Explorer (IE). But make no mistake, they were designed to enhance your computer's security as well as its performance. The driving force behind Service Pack 2 was improved security, and that makes SP2 an extremely important - even arguably critical - upgrade.

Microsoft has its own "top ten" list of reasons to upgrade, which you can find here

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/sp2/topten.mspx

However, I have found three of the SP2 features significant and helpful enough to justify - and strongly recommend - the upgrade:

1. Internet Explorer Information Bar: When SP2 is installed in your computer, IE displays a bar (just below the address bar) that notifies you of downloads, blocked pop-ups, and other activities that might otherwise compromise the security of your PC. The Information Bar lets you know IE has blocked controls and/or active content present on the page you are trying to view, or has prevented a website from downloading files to your computer. By doing so, it gives you control over what gets in, so that you download only those files you need rather than junk that might end up being spyware or worse. Protection is not perfect, but it is certainly a step in the right direction and a welcome tool. You'll be surprised how often you are alerted to potential downloads that otherwise would have sneaked in silently!

2. Windows Firewall update: The built-in firewall in Windows XP gets a new name and is now enabled (turned on) by default. Moreover, the firewall now protects your PC during startup and shutdown. These are key changes even if you already use a third-party firewall like ZoneAlarm. Why? Because it allows Windows Firewall to act as an emergency backup in the event your regular firewall malfunctions or is disabled, either by design (e.g., while updating the software), accidentally, or as a result of malware. Windows Firewall kicks in as soon as Windows detects your third-party firewall is inactive, even if we are only talking about the short time it takes the latter to be loaded into memory. Windows Firewall is automatically disabled when another active software firewall is detected so as to avoid the possibility of conflicts. Very cool!

3. Windows Security Center: This feature is accessed through a new icon in your Control Panel, and allows you to monitor the status of your firewall, antivirus, and automatic updates in one place. (SP2 is able to monitor the status of most major third-party firewalls and antivirus software.) You can also configure other security settings from the Security Center main window. Sometimes, Windows will alert you of outdated virus definitions or new versions of software before the corresponding programs get a chance to do so themselves! This sort of redundancy can work to your advantage, as it did for me several months ago: Some of the files of my Norton AntiVirus LiveUpdate became corrupted, and the software was unable to check for new virus definitions as scheduled. After Windows notified me of outdated virus definitions, I checked my LiveUpdate schedule and realized there was a problem. Without SP2 and the new Security Center, it might have taken me significantly longer to discover the problem, and my computer would have been vulnerable to new malware attacks all that time.

Those are the key selling points for me as far as SP2 is concerned, though hardly the only ones. You can find a list of all of the key SP2 features by visiting

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/sp2/features.mspx

Chances are Microsoft will eventually require all Windows XP computers upgrade to SP2, or you will need to do so in order to take advantage of future enhancements, features, or even download critical fixes and patches. SP2 has been around long enough that the lion's share of issues has already been addressed, making the upgrade a relatively safe proposition.
Having said that, there are a few precautions you should take before upgrading to SP2. For starters,

1. Scan your computer for malware and spyware. Remove any unwanted items detected during the scans from your PC;

2. Create a Restore Point using Windows XP's System Restore utility (START/ALL PROGRAMS/ACCESSORIES/SYSTEM TOOLS/SYSTEM RESTORE). In the rare event you encounter problems after the upgrade, you should be able to safely return your computer to its last working state. To play it safe, back up important files and documents;

3. Microsoft recommends that you check your computer's manufacturer website to check for any updates your PC might need to ensure full compatibility with SP2;

4. Verify that your PC meets or exceeds Microsoft's minimum system requirements for the Service Pack. This information is found here

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/sp2/sysreqs.mspx

Once you are ready to upgrade, visit the Microsoft Update Website (http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/) to scan your computer and get the upgrade. You might need to update your Windows Updating software before using the website.

You can find more information and tips on installing SP2 by checking Get Your PC Ready for Windows XP SP2

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/sp2/sp2_whattoknow.mspx

Additional information and helpful articles can be found here:

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/sp2/default.mspx

Hope this information helps!

Best wishes,

Miguel K. of Columbus, Ohio

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Honorable mentions
by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / September 1, 2005 3:12 AM PDT
Answer:

Hi John. I can't say that it is necessary for you to install SP2 RIGHT NOW, but indications are that you will need it soon.

There are several good reasons to upgrade. First off, it?s free to download SP2; if you prefer, Microsoft will mail you a CD, also free. More importantly, last week's malware ripple affected mostly Windows 2000 systems ... but also on XP systems with SP1.
Unfortunately there will be more to come. You are probably already tempted to upgrade because of the advertised security improvements. And you probably already know that Microsoft puts its best efforts on the newest products, so it's a good jump to make. And I don't know about you, but I won't upgrade to the new Windows OS as soon as it is on the market. I like to wait a bit to let them work out the first bugs, so I plan on using XP with SP2 for a good while yet.

Preparation for upgrading: always plan for the worst.
It happens rarely, but if it happens to you, you want to be ready. The worst would be that programs stop working, your registry is messed up, or you computer slows down a lot. For the ultimate preparation, I make a complete copy of my main drive (the one with the OS) on a backup hard drive. I use Drive Image, but Ghost is also a good program.

My personal choice for an upgrade this big (make no mistake - SP2 is big) is to make a clean reinstall on a newly formatted drive. Since I set up my computers with a C:\ drive that only houses my OS and programs, this is easy. I format the drive, install a new copy of the OS, apply SP2 and then just reinstall all my programs. If you want to get geeky you can create a slipstream copy of XP to incorporate the SP2 files. If this interests you, just google it. You'll find quite a few sets of instructions for slipstreaming.

Since most of my data is already on other drives, all I have to do is make sure to do a new backup of Quicken, my email data, bookmarks (favorites) and any icons that may just be on the desktop - like my Zoom modem setup icon. I already know that I have my CDs and program keys - you will need those too. You know what programs you use and where they are - find all your data and make sure it is saved safely. Replacing all the programs may seem like more work, but a clean OS install will run faster. You can't help but pick up junk in your registry from things like uninstalled programs.

If you don't have your computer set up like mine, you need to backup everything someplace safe and then apply SP2. If all goes well, you don't need your backup ... but now you have a complete backup! This is good. If you experience problems with the SP2 upgrade, you can restore your full backup and contemplate making the upgrade another time.

Submitted by: Merry S.

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Answer:


John,

It sounds like you're fairly security conscious with the antivirus, firewalls and antispyware apps. Well done. As far as adding SP2 to your computer goes, the answer is ?probably.? And I say ?probably? only because there are a few apps that get broken. The good news on that is that most applications and utilities DO support SP2 or have been updated to do so.
Before going for it, it would be best to check with the vendor to see if the software supports SP2 or if any patches are required for them to keep working.

The only real non-conformist apps that are still broken by SP2 fall in the category of custom apps built for corporations. The usual reason for these problems not being fixed generally is due to money. The vendor doesn?t want to do the right thing and fix the problem (for free, of course) and the corporation generally doesn?t want to spend the money to pay the vendor to do the rewrite. And sometimes even the offer of money isn?t enough to get the vendor to fix the problem.

The benefits of SP2?

There are two main benefits:

1.) Your machine is better protected against various known exploits. Mind you, it?s not perfect, but it IS a general step in the right direction.

2.) Microsoft is phasing out support/new features for most pre-SP2 OS?s including Windows XP up to SP1. Yes, Microsoft WILL support you if you?ve got only SP1, but they are herding the masses toward SP2. For instance, the new Antispyware beta requires SP2. And you can bet that new goodies (i.e.
the new modules that will bolt onto Windows XP from Vista) will likewise do so.

So the bottom line ? is it really necessary? It?s not mandatory. You can muddle by without SP2 installed. But your machine will be at risk to a degree ? even with the firewalls/antivirus/antispyware installed AND you will be cut off from new technology and toys when they become available.

How to go about it...

The first thing to do is scan your computer for viruses and spyware. Be sure to do a full and thorough scan of the hard drive. There?s nothing that?ll ruin your day faster than an install that goes bad because some virus or spyware prevents a file from being installed properly and trashes Windows.
And speaking of which?

Just to be on the safe side, it?s generally a good idea to do a full and complete backup prior to doing the upgrade. Use whatever you?ve got to make a full and complete backup. Something along the line of Norton Ghost or Partition Magic or another, similar app that allows you to copy an entire hard drive to another partition or drive is generally best. While the installer for SP2 will back up your existing files (in case you want to or need to uninstall SP2 for whatever reason), a backup will save your hide should something go really wrong. And it?s generally faster to restore a backup than to reinstall Windows, all of your apps and recover your data.

If you?ve got a brand name PC (HP, Compaq, Dell, Gateway, etc?), you might want to check the vendor?s web site for any updated drivers that may be available and any information from the vendor?s site regarding how adding
SP2 might affect your machine.

Once you?ve got all of that done and out of the way, then you can proceed to Windows Update and do the upgrade. Or to make life simpler for future reference, you can always download the entire SP2 package from Microsoft and burn it to CD. Either way, plan on setting aside a few hours to do it. The upgrade is rather large and will take a while to download even with broadband. A good plan would be to start the download before you go to bed and let it do that part while you sleep.

Also, if you?ve got a laptop, be sure to plug it into the wall before starting. The last thing you would want to do is run out of power while you?re downloading or installing something like SP2. A broken download only means so much lost time but an install that goes south because the battery ran dry can really hose everything. (You DID do that full and thorough back up, right?)

Once it?s done installing, rebooting, etc? you should be good to go.

Submitted by: Pete Z.

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Answer:


There's been mixed feelings about updating to ServicePack 2 (SP2), but i would definitely recommend it.

Firstly, there are some updates which are not available via windows update, such as the pop up blocker in windows xp, the add-on manager and the information bar (which they nicked from mozilla Happy ).

According to Microsoft, this is what they have changed:

Windows Firewall, Setup, Resultant Set of Policy, Windows Update, Internet Explorer Feature Control Settings in Group Policy, Internet Explorer URLAction Security Settings in Group Policy, Internet Explorer MIME Handling Enforcement, Internet Explorer Network Protocol Lockdown, Internet Explorer Local Machine Lockdown.

I know this is a bit techy, but by looking at it, you can see that it covers mainly internet related items, which results in Improved Security.

Although most of the items in the service pack are related to security, there are some useful features (and some useless ones, like removing the professional bit from the boot screen - getting rid of the one reminder that we paid that little bit more for it Happy ).

There's been many useful updates to Internet Explorer, such as the information bar, which puts everything in one place. Before this was in place, you had to check your third party pop up blocker to check whether that pop up that was blocked was one that you wanted, while you had a box nagging you in the middle of the screen to install an active X control. Now, you get a little yellow bar at the top, which when clicked, gives you info about which pop ups were blocked, which active x controls are needed for a page, and if any files have been started automatically, they will be sent up there for you to review. This gives you more control, as you cannot get a box popping up while typing, and typing a space (saying OK to download something completely dodgy) and infecting your computer - I had to reformat before because of this happening to me!.

Also, as I have mentioned already, it integrates a pop up blocker into IE, which although seems small, it means one less application running, and a small amount of your system resources gained back. Also, the Add-on manager allows you to control what addon programs are run with IE, which can help if one is causing your browser to crash, or if it was installed without your permission.

The biggest difference to the system after installing SP2, is the Windows Security Center. This allows you to monitor your Firewall, Antivirus and Windows Updates, all from one place. The Security Center will automatically notify you if you do not have a firewall installed (which you probably will, because it turns the XP firewall on by default, making your computer more secure when connected to the internet), if you have no antivirus protection, or it is out of date, and if there are any new Windows Updates to be installed (which there are bound to be at some point!). ** You cannot miss the security center, because it is thrown in your face after installing sp2 **

There are also lots of things happening behind the scenes, that you will never (or very rarely) get to know about, like network and memory protection.

Also, with service pack 2, you will be getting the latest drivers for your hardware. For example, sp2 comes with bluetooth drivers, which makes installing bluetooth devices easier, and newer drivers, which can come in handy if you are having problems with older drivers.

Before installing Service pack 2, Check your computer for unwanted software, as this can simply clog up your system - ie. if you have any pop up blockers installed. Also, ensure that everybody else is logged off of the computer, and that your account is a computer administrator.

** note for laptops only: ensure that they will have enough power - sometimes it will not be sufficient to install from a battery, so using an AC adapter is recommended. **

You must also ensure that your computer meets the minimum requirements (if it doesnt meet these you shouldn?t be running xp anyway! but its best to check...):

a 233 mhz processor (pentium 2 recommended)
64mb of RAM (128mb recommended)
1.8gb of hard drive space during installation (for the temporary files).

You must also have one of the following operating systems installed:

Windows XP Home/Pro
Windows XP Media Centre Edition (or the 2004 version)
Windows XP Tablet Edition

You CANNOT install service pack 4 if you are using a 64 bit version of windows XP. If did not get it especially, or you do not have a 64bit processor (ie. AMD 64), then this should not be a problem for you.

Finally, remember to back up your files, as with any major update/installation, things can go wrong (ie. if you have a powercut half way through), so it is important to ALWAYS HAVE A BACKUP!

Then, once you have backed up, go to the windows update website, and download sp2. It is a good idea to stay with your computer through the install, in case you are prompted for any information. Once downloaded, just close any other programs and install... simple as that...

Submitted by: Brian M.

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Answer:


John,
A service pack is basically a set of all the previous updates bundled into one. This makes it convenient to update your computer with all the latest protections in one installation. This might come in handy if you reinstall windows. Microsoft does not, to my knowledge, clearly state if continuously updating SP1 offers you all the benefits of SP2. However they recommend using SP2 over SP1.

SP2 is not just a set of updates or patches. It actually creates new and different security measures using newer software technology. It covers up a lot of holes in SP1. It has been known to protect against viruses that attacked SP1 computers even after they were patched with the specific virus protection. The Download.Ject virus is a good example of this. Microsoft issued a number of patches for SP1 to protect against this virus with little success whereas SP2 was totally immune to it. In addition, the "Windows Firewall" that comes with SP2 is a far better version of the "Internet Connection Firewall" that comes with SP1.

SP2 is also made in such a way that it makes the automatic updates run better than they do in SP1. So not only do you have the latest service pack, you even get the latest updates in an efficient manner.

Another thing to keep in mind is that updates for SP1 will cease after September 2006. You will eventually have to switch over to SP2.

There were initially compatibility issues with certain softwares. Some of the softwares that microsoft initially warned of were
Microsoft Business Solutions CRM Sales for Outlook 1.2
Symantec AntiVirus Corporate Edition 8.0
Computer Associates Network Management Software
Visual Studio .NET
Microsoft Operations Manager
SQL Server
Hummingbird Exceed 7.0 and 8.0
Veritas Backup Exec 9
Macromedia ColdFusion MX Server Edition 6
McAfee NetShield 4.5 Tools For The Update Tool
among others.
However most softwares work fine even after the update. I personally never had a problem. The
newer softwares are sp2 ready.

Certain types of hardware too caused a problem initially. The main problem was the blue screen of death seen after installing sp2. This was due to the BIOS of the computer being incompatible with SP2. Most computers up to 5 years old should be fine. It might be a good idea to download the SP2 by running the windows update as it will check your system configuration and tell you if your computer is fit to run sp2.

Before installing SP2 back up all your important information - documents, photos etc. This is a precautionary measure. Then run an antivirus software followed by some antispyware softwares. You want to make sure the system is clean before you install SP2 over it.

Service Pack 2 is a major upgrade compared to most previous service packs issued by Microsoft. And it has been accepted very well by the IT community. I dont see any reason not to installl it. The installation only takes about half an hour so I would do it if I were you.

Submitted by: Gary P. of Atlanta, GA

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Answer:



Service Pack 2 is a huge leap forward in safe and secure computing. Probably the most important service pack ever designed by Microsoft.

The first thing you notice is the introduction of a Security Centre on your PC

It is primarily designed to ensure that your Firewall, Virus Scanner and Windows Automatic Updates are always turned on and available.

There are also massive updates for Internet Explorer and Outlook Express.
To quote McAfee "Outlook Express is the biggest single culprit involved in the spread of viruses"

All new PCs now have Service Pack 2 installed as standard.

It does not take long to install and as an added bonus, you also get a great new edition of Windows Movie Maker, and the best Pop Up Blocker of all time with the upgraded Internet Explorer.

I have installed it on an EMachines 330 and the only preparation i needed was to upgrade the RAM to a minimum of 256MB

If you don't , your PC will crash because it simply won't be able to cope with the upgrade.

The only other preparation is to run your Anti-Spyware program prior to installation.

I use Ad Aware by Lavasoft. Free, fast and extremely good.

Another added bonus with Service Pack 2 is that your PC can download updates in the background without interfering with anything you are working on at the time.

When it has downloaded the updates, it installs them and even turns your PC off when it has finished.

Hope you find this helpful John and it goes without saying that i highly recommend installing SP2 to anyone.

Submitted by: Syd L. of England

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Answer:


SP2 PROBLEM ?

Here is my personal answer: I am not IT and my task is not to go out of the subject; there is no point in explaining all pros and cons for updating to SP2; John is asking a simple question, a concrete one, so the answer has to stick to it:

First of all:
If you do not update to SP2, you will not be able to keep your PC up-to ?date as the other updates are presupposing SP2 installed, only compatible with this update, whether you find this appropriate or not, there is no choice. It is not advised to do so because a lot of other programs are only compatible with Windows XP + SP2; if SP2 is lacking, the program will fail installing or malfunction.

If you do not update to SP2, some security patches created by Microsoft to prevent being hacked by an intrusive person , will not install ; this is Microsoft procedure answering to threats caused by holes in the former ?non patched system; moreover, remember that IE is PART of Windows , whether you like it or not , security threats caused by surfing the web are real not fictitious; there is no control about the extent to which Microsoft?s patches are really responding in full to this threats; gaps are discovered about once a semester; nevertheless this is the answer of Microsoft corresponding to the OS it spreads out.

There is, in short, no way to bypass the updates. The only other choice, which is no real choice is to keep your PC exposed to piracy; you may be stolen from very confidential data and anyway you do not want to know that maybe somebody you do not know may take control on your PC when he likes to do so. Updates cannot give you any complete protection but you raise the risk by bypassing the updates.

Now SP2, versus personal firewall.
As you describe the situation, that is YOUR situation, in terms of use of new abilities directly used by the customer, SP2 gives you NOTHING; I explain: Usually , people did not wait for Microsoft to consider implementing an efficient firewall, and moreover SP2?s firewall is a minimal protection (I tell you why below); moreover SP2?s firewall is not very much configurable; it is to some extent but the risk of incompatibilities, the risk of not allowing programs to access Internet is greater; if you know exactly what you are doing, that?s fine you may minimize these risks, even reduce them to zero, but as the protection offered by this firewall is minimal (inbound requests are protected but not outbound which maybe manually configurable but why bother???), the best answer is yours: a router with an internal firewall AND a personal firewall; if you are satisfied with Zonealarm, that?s fine: Microsoft?s SP2 firewall is much less than Zonealarm.

What are the risks of an Upgrade: this is a serious question with no simple answer: in my case upgrading just put my configuration out of work. Period. I had to make a complete reinstall; it worked fine on another computer; I am unable to tell you exactly what happened in the first case; I would consider the following steps:
At the beginning of the install process (of SP2) a restore point is automatically created; create another one BEFORE installing; your own restore point, just in case and do backups of personal data (e-mails in particular, license Keys for your privileged software etc?); if you are in the situation I met, namely, no reboot, no access to Last Good Configuration, no restore process available, you will have to reinstall Windows, then UPGRADE to SP2, then reinstall your software; in this case, the backups you did will save your life, not your time but that?s it; be prepared FOR THE WORST. As you have to know, if there is a single path to the worst situation, things will evolve exactly THAT way.

Now, let us be optimistic; suppose the install process works; before installing, of course, I forget to mention, Deactivate ANTIVIRUS AND FIREWALL; this is an absolute precondition; the best would be to close all your programs but deactivation does not follow from closing Antivirus and Firewall; MOREOVER check any option in these TWO programs which decides NOT to LAUNCH them at reboot!!! So assume everything works fine; the PC reboots and before the welcome screen you will have an huge announcement that SECURITY CENTER OF MICROSOFT is now installed on your PC; you may already configure it, or which I would choose, let the PC reboot completely, that is open your desktop and go to Control Panel; you will see a new icon (you can?t miss it!): that?s the Security Center; after opening it you will have to make your choices; I would advocate in your case NOT TO LET WINDOWS manage your antivirus and Firewall, the first one is innocuous because Windows DOES NOT INSTALL a new antivirus (this is an option, that you may adopt or not and anyway you must install a NEW Software in this case; what is funny is that this Security Center does not always detect an antivirus if this is not the one it recommends ?..!!!!) REMEMBER that DEFAULT is to let Windows firewall activated.

The most important is to deactivate any control of Microsoft Security Center on the Firewall; it will tell you that you are NOT protected; do not care about that warning.
So you are now with your new configuration; where is SP2? Somewhere in your PC; you may discover one folder in the system folder which refers to SP2 and that will be it; you will never notice it and you will be able to further update your PC.
Best regards

Submitted by: Olivier G.

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Answer:


John,
I think you would be well advised to upgrade to SP2. One never knows what subsequent windows updates or other software may rely on it. Personally, I held off for a long time so I could be apprised of any significant glitches that could occur.

First, I made the decision to upgrade. I started in the business almost 50 years ago and I believe that it is important to keep systems current.

Second, I ordered the free CD. I like installing from CDs and prefer them to downloading.
Somehow I think I have more control, especially if I need to reinstall.

Third, I made sure all my software, windows, drivers, and BIOS were current.
It's a good idea to do this anyway.

Fourth, I cleaned up my system. I ran spy sweeper, registry first aid, Norton win doctor and disk defragmenter.
It's a good idea to do this every week.

Fifth, I made a complete backup of my hard drive. I strongly recommend an external hard drive. If you do not have one, perhaps you could borrow one.

Sixth, I set aside some time to install the update and said a prayer.
It's a good idea to do this anyway.

I did it! No glitches.
I think those who have problems likely have not kept their systems in good order.
Remember: You can't mechanize a Mess!

Submitted by: Joe S.
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Other recommendations by our members
by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / September 1, 2005 3:48 AM PDT
Answer:

Hello John,

First of all, no, you do not have to upgrade to XP Service Pack 2. There are programs that will not function properly or at all with the upgrade, such as some P2P programs. Certainly, you have a somewhat secure connection to the internet, but holes(or exploits) in the operating system can render your system useless even with all of your security.

Service Pack 2 includes many bugfixes and security clean-up measures to enhace your experience by providing you some relief knowing that your system is protected from numerous trojans, viruses, and exploits that are still found under previous Service Packs. Almost all security programs such as the ones you stated will of course still be needed. If you decide to, there are thing that you should do before upgrading. Such as checking to make sure that your programs will most definately work with SP2. Although you may feel that the improved core, better wireless networking support, a Security Center, and a more secure Internet Explorer is not enough to warrant such a big upgrade, you may not wish to update your Windows XP system. Good luck.

Submitted by: Simmon S.

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Answer:


Dear John T. of Milwaukee;
First question I need to ask is, are you running on Dial-up or broadband/cable Internet connection? Your answer to that would depend on upgrading to SP2, which I do recommend if on broadband/cable Internet. SP2 comes with its own Firewall protection (I know, since I have it running with my cable Internet connection), and along with that are the Auto-Updates and Virus Protection settings. Since my cable Internet provider provides me with free virus protection software, for being a continued subscriber, I don?t need any other virus protection software that would conflict with the existing one. My cable provider also provides me with Spy-ware and pop-up blockers, so again, don?t need any other spy-wares or pop-up blockers that would conflict with their systems.

Windows XP SP2 is a definite recommendation even with router connections with firewalls ? with SP2 you can turn off its firewall protection and still use your router?s firewall (but not both ? they?ll cancel out each other - same thing for using several anti-spyware programs, which I don?t think you need ?several? of, you could be having program conflicts for using similar computer protection software programs). Since there also may be SP1 issues with new updated programs, its just a good idea to go ahead and update to SP2 ? I?d rather have the most updated supported programs on my computer than to worry about whether I need to upgrade or not ? is always a good thing to keep in mind. A lot of people were skeptic about SP2 in the past, and so was I when I got WindowsXP, but then decided finally to upgrade to SP2 and I?m really satisfied with it and glad I had the foresight to go ahead with the install anyway. Many newer programs and devices now require SP2 added to Windows XP in order to work well, so that?s another consideration. But, if you?re still skeptic and go with someone else?s answer that supports your question, then you really didn?t want to upgrade in the first place.

So, pick and choose, and go with your gut instincts, but be thinking of your future use with your computer ? it may be inevitable that you?ll have to upgrade in the first place.

Good luck.

Submitted by: Carlene

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Like you I pondered this question for about a year after SP2 came out. After running into some customers computers that were infected with spyware and viruses I decided to try SP2. I came to find out that SP2 helped remove some of these little problems. I also found that SP2 turned of some services in Windows that are prone to attack. Now granted you have a firewall and several Anti-spyware programs that will keep you from getting these problematic things. This is a good thing!

There is nothing you really need to do to upgrade to SP2 but you may want to check software compatibility. I have run into some issues with older versions of Nero and Imesh with SP2. One thing I do want to suggest though is to stick with one Anti-spyware program. The more scanners you run along with your Anti-virus program the more system resources you take up to run all of those. Each one of those programs are constantly scanning your system and checking for threats.

Now you say you are getting all of your updates from Microsoft, but there are updates that you will never receive by not updating to SP2. So I do highly recommend updating to SP2 and loosing some of the Anti-spyware programs. Several of the companies that I have worked for in the past have decided to use SP2 and if there where issues with using this update, they would never implement it into our machines. I hope this helps you out with your question and good luck!!

Submitted by: Shawn G.

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Firstly I would recommend SP2, but and oh yes there is a but. In my experience there are problems with loading sp2 and certain other programmes. What I have found however is that if and when, (and you will) re-install XP that is when you should load SP2. Before anything else is loaded, this gives you XP + SP2 and none of the problems. If however you update XP with SP2 you may or may not have the problems some have had where some of the already installed programmes stop working.

SP2 does add to the security of XP even though you may have lots of other security running. The other thing is there are many other enhancements in SP2 better digital support among other things.

Think of it like this, when people had windows 95 or 98 etc a lot of people purchased the upgrade version of the next windows, the worst thing to do was actually upgrade the software as this still had in essence the original and all of its problems. The best way was to install fresh using the upgrade disc, as long as you had a copy of your previous version, What you then got was a nice new fresh version.

XP and SP2 is exactly the same thing, start it fresh with none of the upgrade problems. It goes without saying update all your drivers before doing a fresh install.

Submitted by: Steve G.

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In general, I recommend that people upgrade to Service Pack 2.
Microsoft has had it out for a while now, with millions of people using it successfully every day, and more recently pressed versions of the Windows XP installation CDs already include SP2 rolled into them.

Many of the changes are "beneath the surface" modifications to the
technical details of how the TCP/IP networking stacks handle things.
Most people won't know anything changed, but the revisions make it more difficult for some types of spyware/malware to "plug in" to the operating system and manipulate incoming/outgoing Internet traffic.

The biggest change you will immediately see is that with SP2 installed, XP is more "aware" of the state of a few aspects of your computer's security. It will alert you if the built-in XP software firewall is turned off, or if your anti-virus software has outdated virus signatures (or if no anti-virus software is installed and running at all). It will also alert you if automatic Windows updates are disabled.

That said, there are good reasons why *some* people will NOT want to upgrade to Service Pack 2. I've seen a few Gateway computers (seems to mostly be their early Pentium 4 towers in white cases with a grey front grille) that crash with a "blue screen of death" upon trying to boot up with XP SP2. Unless Gateway changed something in the last few months or so, there was still no fix for this when I last checked
- but I suspect a BIOS update might cure it.

There are also a few networking monitoring/sniffing and remote control type utilities on the market that cease to function properly when installed on a PC running XP with SP2. Because these types of programs are so specialized and perform some pretty "low level"
interaction with the network to do their job, there is some question as to if it's even possible to re-write them to work again under SP2. (Basically, they're doing some of the same things that some spyware/malware programs were doing - so Microsoft effectively broke them while trying to increase system security.)

Submitted by: Tom W.

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No.

My company is making that upgrade right now, and the only difference I have seen during testing is an amazing increase in security warnings which make you click "Yes," or "No," or "OPEN," depending on how the question is phrased.

Time and experience shows that users quickly learn to disregard these messages. Since the "Are you sure? Y/N" messages in DOS and the sick feeling many of us had after automatically entering "Y" when we were not, in fact, sure at all.

In my opinion, all of the security "improvements" in Microsoft's latest batch of products are designed to protect THEM from liability, not to protect users. A good firewall, one of the zillion spam filters and anti virus programs, and that elusive tiny bit of common sense are better than plastering warning stickers all over your screen.

Besides, even with the warning stickers, you still have to have that tiny bit of common sense. If your hair dryer has a warning about using it in the shower, and you go ahead and try it you will likely be electrocuted anyway.
The hair dryer company will be protected, but you will not.

Now, if Microsoft would make some actual improvements... that would be different.

Submitted by: Bill M. of Aztec, NM

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Tell him to stay with SP1 my wife uses it on the laptop with no Problems, me on the other hand had to brave the world of SP2, after installing the computer wouldn't run, nice that they tell you after the fact that I had to upgrade my BIOS before it would work, also it reeked havoc with my Mozilla and Thunderbird mail servers, It wont allow me to edit my Personal address book in either programs, I still cant find the answer to that one, then the security center keeps telling me that i need a firewall active, I have Sygate I told security center options that and it still pops every couple weeks.

This is My Opinion stay with what you have I miss SP1 !!!

Submitted by: Mike of Troutdale, OR

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As I understand it SP2 should have all previous Windows updates provided in 1 service pack. Things to watch out for when installing SP2 is spyware, adware, and viruses; if you install SP2 and your system is not free of all spyware it is very likely the install will not complete successfully or will impact your computer in a negative way once completed. I did a lot of experimenting with SP2 when it was first released and had a bit of trouble getting it to work right because I wasn't using "clean" systems.

I've found on older machines SP2 can slow them down a bit. By older I mean systems with a 1GHz or below processor and less than 256MB of RAM. Just remember just because you install SP2 doesn't mean it will fix all your problems there are now 20+ windows updates since SP2. The best way to secure your system is to stay up to date to the best of your ability.

Submitted by: Mike R. of New Orleans, LA

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John T.,

My contribution to your question will be short and sweet and, most likely, will cause lots of controversy among other readers. Nonetheless, as a sort of one-man IT shop of a medium sized family business with (only) about 20 desktops and laptops to support along with four wireless networks in as many locations, I'm willing to go out on a limb and say "Yes! Update to SP2!"

Categorically, I can say that in not just one or even a few, but on every machine that I have updated to SP2 (and all of the subsequent updates that inevitably followed) the computer, whether desktop, laptop or server functioned better, more reliably and supported more complete security solutions than without SP2. That said, I should probably qualify all of this by saying that our PC configurations are relatively simple to begin with. We don't utilize a lot of large, complex, specialized applications, over-the-top complicated networking configurations, or mega-multi-thousand dollar hardware setups. I've always operated with the "keep it simple, stupid" philosophy and I can confidently tell you that SP2 has fit into that strategy very well (and I don't mean with the "stupid" aspect). Even though I might personally feel that Windows continues to be far less than it should be at this stage of its long and troubled life, I still believe that SP2 has been a positive step forward with few minor, and no serious repercussions for our business. Here are a couple of the official Microsoft websites that give you all of the details:

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/sp2/preinstall.mspx

http://www.microsoft.com/athome/security/update/sp2.mspx

OK, everybody else, you can let me have it now...and tell John all of your horror stories...

Submitted by: Howard F.

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The simple answer is yes.

If you had a car, say a Buick, and GM found a problem with the brakes and made a recall for it to be fixed, you wouldn't hesitate because the maker knows that it needs to be fixed.
Microsoft makes Windows programs and collects information continuously on things that affect their programs. They see something that needs fixing but they don't recall the program, they send it to you in a Download.

Just as Buick knows what is best for their cars, microsoft knows your XP is in danger if you don't update with SP2

Submitted by: Ian M.

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With Zone Alarm, AVG antivirus, and several anti-spy programs in place, it is not necessary to install SP2. The main feature of SP2 is enhanced security, but with that array of software in place, the writer already has security. True, there are other files in SP2 which supposedly patch some glitches in XP2, and their description can be found on the Microsoft website. But the gentleman's protection seems already enough.

Finally, there are numerous reported problems associated with SP2. These issues can easily be found by a web search, and they are not minor. Therefore, there is no urgency to move to SP2.

Submitted by: David W.

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Hi John ,

Well, it's adviced to install Service Pack 2 , because of the security improvements made by Microsoft to make Windows XP a bit safer to use.

Since there are many virusses and worms out there , which in most cases use some bugs in Windows XP and exploit them.

Also after installation of Service Pack 2 , you will notice a new item in your Control Panel , it's the Security Center. This will monitor your computer's safety and will notify you when your computer isn't secure enough.

See to it that you have a proper antivirus product installed ( recommending Panda Platinum Internet Security 2005) , a good firewall protection ( either software or hardware) ( I can recommend Panda Platinum Internet Security 2005 as a full protection utility , there is also a software firewall in the product. Also TruPrevent Technology are included ) and also install Spybot Search & Destroy ( http://www.spybot.info ) and Ad-Aware ( http://www.lavasoft.de ).

Forget about using Norton or Mcafee , because they don't fully protect you and are worthless to protect your computer. All they do is eat system resources and let through virusses and worms. I will never recommend those two to anyone anymore.
Additionally , you can install Microsofts AntiSpyware Beta , if you wish.
Active "Automatic Updates" also , so you will receive critical updates and you can install them immediately.

Just do install Service Pack 2 , it's a good thing to do so. Your computer will be safer !
Happy safe computing further and I hope I helped you with my advice.
Sincerely yours ,

Submitted by: Pcfreakske2000

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Windows XP's Service Pack 2 is the most extensive "freebie" ever produced by Microsoft. It represents an almost complete rewrite of the original XP with a major emphasis on eliminating flaws and security vulnerabilities; some of which originated in the 1950's. If you value your data and rely on the computer's operation, SP2 is not just necessary, it is critical.

Before installing SP2, there are a few bases which ought to be covered.

First, clean up what loads at Startup. Use something like StartupCPL ( www.mlin.net/StartupCPL.shtml ) or WinPatrol ( www.winpatrol.com ) to reduce what loads at startup to a minimum. Sysinfo.org ( www.sysinfo.org/startuplist.php ) has a nice database you can search to see if any item is necessary.

Second, check for software updates. Several programs, such as EasyCD Creator, need an update to function properly with SP2 and some can cause the install to fail. Many of these problems can be circumvented; though, if their startup entry is unchecked using the programs from step one.

Third, check for driver updates. The best place to check is your computer manufacturer's website and most have a list of what to do before installing SP2. Critical drivers can also be found at WindowsUpdate.com; but, you have to do custom and manually choose the drivers which will show on the left hand side after it checks for updates.
Best practice also suggests it would be a good idea to backup your data before installing SP2 (just in case) and, for those of you on dialup, I would heartilly recommend ordering the free CD from http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/downloads/updates/sp2/cdorder/en_us/default.mspx ; because the 10 hours of downloading is itself, risky.

Submitted by: Davis M.

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This is my answer to the question for this week:

There are benefits and risks involved in using Service Pack 2. It is true that you will gain many cute features such as upgraded icons and images for wireless and other related items as well as a numerous collection of security updates however there are also many downsides to the story. Many drivers and considerable amount of software is not compatible or will contain conflicts with Windows Service Pack 2 as Microsoft has made many changes to its operating system with this update. A good example is the well documented driver problem related to internal wireless cards such as the Intel Pro Wireless 2200bg. If you are using standard software and relatively standard hardware, you will definitely gain benefits from upgrading to Service Pack 2. However, be wary if you use non-standard hardware or older versions of software which are not compliant with Service Pack 2, as you may spend many a day trying to figure out what went wrong.

Submitted by: Jeremy D. of Sydney, Australia

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hi John T, in a word NO, SP2 can be more trouble than it is worth,some have no trouble with it but,others do.I keep to SP1 and have no trouble with that.I did have SP2 but, took if off as I had all sorts of trouble and,when I took it off the troubles stopped .I like you have all the other updates and glad of them,but since it came out SP2 has been very contraversal, or you like it or hate it. I am the latter.Good luck John T. Regards yohan129

Submitted by: John W.

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Hello John;

While I?m sure many here will disagree, ? everyone loves to hate Microsoft ? Installing patches and service packs is the best way to keep yourself running smoothly. As Steve Balmer once said, we can send you the oxygen, but if you don?t want to breathe, that?s not our fault! As a home user, you do have a bit of flexibility ? rarely is it urgent that you install the next service pack, and this is a good thing. When Microsoft releases a service pack, it is effectively a collection of patches, updates and incremental feature improvements all bundled into a single package. The best thing for you to do, is to wait a few weeks while the corporate IT teams install and test it. If there are any serious issues, they will show up in all the trade press, newsgroups and possibly even mainstream press. Once a few weeks have passed without any dire news about the upgrade, you can relatively safely proceed with installation.

When installing any type of core components such as OS upgrades and service packs, it always pays to backup everything. It is also useful, if you are a bit on the geeky side, to use a product like Norton Go Back, which will allow you to undo the installation and restore you machine to its exact state prior to the attempted upgrade. Once you have the patch installed, it also pays to run a few tests of your more critical functions. Many upgrades can cause unusual drivers to stop working properly (digital cameras, scanners, printers, coffee holders, etc.) so run a few tests to make sure all your peripherals are still working properly and not hanging the OS. After that, you should also test all of your ?anti-? software and your firewall ? these generally have links into the core of the OS and can sometimes cease to work properly ? in this event, the vendors often will have patches posted on their sites to fix any issues with the new OS version.

In general, I believe that it is important to keep the OS at its most recent version level, simply because, it is in Microsoft?s best interest to keep XP running smoothly and as threats continue to evolve and bugs surface, service packs are the only way to maintain the platform.

Regards,

Submitted by: Marc A. of London

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Well SP1 is well on its own level but do to high risks of browser hijacking and spyware threats Microsoft has issued a new service pack. The benefits of this service pack is that it gives you more control over your computers security settings. With SP2 you get a "All in one Control Center", which mainly handles your firewall/Antivirus/Auto Update settings, which helps out a lot when your trying to fix something in little time. One feature of SP2 that I like is that it gives you a well balanced pop-up blocker and a active-x controller.

Now the con's about SP2 are not substantial, I have heard of some people having conflicts with drivers but usually they are rare, but thats about all I have heard. Now when updating to SP2 you really dont' have to worry about losing your precious data, but then again these are electronics, they screw up sometimes. So good thing would be to backup your important documents before going further with the install. You can grab the update from http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/ . The install takes roughly around 30-60mins on a medium-end computer. Wish you luck with your upgrading

Submitted by: Laly S.

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A warning to all serious gamers -- because Microsoft doesn't listen; beware of SP2's incestuous love affair with their own [Desktop] affecting Halo I, Flight Simulator 9, and UBISOFT'S Silent Hunter III and others.

At every high impact time during these games in progress; [.NET] or other unidentifiable program dumps the Windows XP system into [Desktop] and parks these games in [Pause] forever until the [Taskbar] is clicked on.

Once in a while Microsoft will try to trick you into believing your system is automatically sending them an error message, but there is no evidence they receive or do anything about them. It is suspected that MS has developed this placation system to keep the complaints down.

Serious Gamers indicate 62% of them prefer Intel PC Gaming over SandBox or whatever they're calling them this week. At least that was before SP2.

Submitted by: Carl Y.
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Submission from Mike R. of New Orleans, LA
by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / September 1, 2005 3:50 AM PDT

E-mail submission sent Fri 8/26/2005 7:40 AM

As I understand it SP2 should have all pervious windows updates provided in 1 service pack. Things to watch out for when installing SP2 is spyware, adware, and viruses; if you install SP2 and your system is not free of all spyware it is very likely the install will not complete successfully or will impact your computer in a negative way once completed. I did a lot of experimenting with SP2 when it was first released and had a bit of trouble getting it to work right because I wasn't using "clean" systems. I've found on older machines SP2 can slow them down a bit. By older I mean systems with a 1GHz or below processor and less than 256MB of RAM. Just remember just because you install SP2 doesn't mean it will fix all your problems there are now 20+ windows updates since SP2. The best way to secure your system is to stay up to date to the best of your ability.

Mike R. of New Orleans, LA

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some problems
by Fred Lesiuk / September 1, 2005 9:45 PM PDT

Sionce the upgrade I notice that my programs take longer to load. When I am in Simply Accounting Pro and I want to change work screens, or functions it seems that the system has slowed.
It seems to affect other programs also.

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some problems
by joan3316 / September 1, 2005 10:17 PM PDT
In reply to: some problems

My Dimension 8300 still has SP1 installed. My new Dell XPS gamer system has SP2 installed. Some of my games will not install on the new system, but install and play perfectly with the SP1 on the older system.

Several of my programs will not install either. My Roxio 7.5 is slightly slower loading on the newer faster system.

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Computer Slow Down
by test55 / September 2, 2005 2:34 AM PDT
In reply to: some problems

I noticed the same thing on my computer.

AMD 3200+ on ASUS MB with 1GB RAM.
Before SP1 the system seemed much quicker.

Now for some slightly more scientific information. I run SETI client on my machine, which uses all available processor power to run in the background. Before SP2 the time to complete was an average job was around 1.5 to 2 hours after the time jumped to 3 or 4 hours.

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Compatibility with 3rd. party softwares
by salemomar / September 1, 2005 9:53 PM PDT

Great answer Miguel. But you do not address the important issue of compatibility with major 3rd. party softwares and that is preventing me from upgrading to XP2. I hate to download patches for my many 3rd. party software. Anyway most of my softwares are old versions so not all patches can fix all the compatibility bugs.

Thank you.

Salem.

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SP2 Upgrade
by demonicus / September 1, 2005 9:54 PM PDT

After upgrading my P4 VelocityMicro, from SP1 to SP2, my ATI Radeon 9700 graphic card kept crashing. Calls and e-mails to both VelocityMicro and ATI never resolved the problem so I switched back to SP1 and all has been fine since.

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Get SP2 only preinstalled with WinXP
by lewis2 / September 2, 2005 3:42 AM PDT
In reply to: SP2 Upgrade

Never has anything wrecked so much on our computers as SP2 on existing WinXP installations. Struggled for a year, finally backed up data, reformatted and reinstalled WinXP on my October 2001 Dell 4300 P4 (no SP2). Everything is perfect again. I use Foxfire as it became a necessity when SP2 destroyed IE6 functionality, especially graphics. Yes, I unsuccessfully did all those things they said to get graphics back, but now I can spend my time productively instead of fighting SP2. Quickbooks Payroll Free once-a-year tax chart couldn't be backed up, so had to plead with India to get new copy without paying another $200 mid-year (a one-person payroll). So, be careful. I don't do anything complicated, and it really was murderous. If you want it, get it on a new computer pre-installed and never go on-line with it. That's what my husband has. His XP SP2 notebook runs fine. He uses a Dell Win98 for on-line. His WinXP desktop with SP2 is a complete mess. He is reformatting for 3rd time and will not go on-line again with it, nor install SP2. He uses it for games, but gets the downloads from the Dell Win98 machine. I'm hoping I live long enough to see another good Windows release.

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SP2 can stop some hardware working
by sparky909 / September 1, 2005 9:59 PM PDT

Generally, I've had no software issues after installing SP2. However, for a minority of users there is the possibility that installing SP2 will stop hardware working.

In my particular case it is my Psion Wavefinder (a USB connected D.A.B - Digtal Radio). Aside from the already discovered unreliability on WindowsXP with this particular piece of hardware, installation of SP2 stops the device working completely.

Aparently, this is because Microsoft has tightened up security around the area of USB and the latest Wavefinder drivers do not conform to the new standards.

With Psion saying that no new Wavefinder drivers will be made this basically gives existing customers two choices:

a) Install SP2 and stop using the Wavefinder
b) Hold back on SP2 for as long as possible

In the end my infrequent use of the hardware made (a) the more practicle choice - however, I thought this would just serve as a warning to the no-win situation that new service packs can sometimes bring.

Mark.

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SP2 versus Polaroid digicam
by crispianduck / September 1, 2005 11:07 PM PDT

I have a similar isue to the one Mark has experienced. I had no problem with my Polaroid digicam (basically a glorified USB storage device) until I installed SP2 on my laptop, at which point the My Computer function froze every time I tried to access the device; if I ran Task Manager it did nothing no matter how long I waited, and then the desktop locked; this meant I couldn't shut down unless I disconnected the power supply and removed the battery. Not good for the computer, not good for my stress levels, and ultimately not good for the collective mental health of the planet. So it's very hard to say definitively whether such upgrades are a good idea or not. I think you have to assume that stuff like SP2 is provided with good intentions, and nothing is ever entirely bug-free, but trying to negotiate the hazards and drawbacks is a nightmare if you're not a dedicated computer buff and basically want a hassle-free life. Computers seem to be unique in that they are essentially household durables like TVs, stereos and refrigerators, and yet there are no communities out there dedicated to making your freezer or juicer or coffee maker malfunction or self-destruct. I find the extent and intensity of malice towards Windows users quite staggering.
So, I suppose this is a long-winded way of saying that the more functions you want your computer to perform - now it's word processor, now it's a video editing suite, now it's a firm of accountants, the more hassle you're going to have to deal with.
Keith, Hastings, England.

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Hardware compatability with SP2
by hswgyap / September 2, 2005 12:42 AM PDT

I also experience some problem with some hardware after installing SP2 but I found that uninstalling the driver and reinstalling it have solved all my problems. I feel that this is a small inconvenience given the extra security.

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it can also make some hardware work...
by piercedtiger / September 1, 2005 11:24 PM PDT

My Fujifilm S5100 digital camera can function as a web cam as well. For several months I searched forums, help files, and the Fujifilm website for instructions, drivers or software to make it work.... Then after uncontiously upgrading to SP2 it magically started working....

Of course, now repartitioning the hard drive to test different linux distros has become a nightmare. Since SP2 I've lost the entire contents of a 190gig partition TWICE!!! Thank god for recovery software! I now have a separate 200gig drive and am looking into NAS so XP SP2's new NTFS alterations don't screw things up again.

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No, don't upgrade to XP, SP2!!!
by Violetw / September 1, 2005 10:25 PM PDT

When XP, SP2 first came out I, like the sheep I sometimes am, dutifully attempted to upgrade to SP2 only to encounter the blue screen of death. I have five computers including two laptops (software/netware/db engineer). The three desktops are double-triple-or quadruple boot with XP as one of the choices. The two laptops were xp. It was the laptops that couldn't handle Microsh*t's upgrade. I had to restore. Luckily that freed up a lot of gigabit space (heh heh).

Now all but one machine is running linux as the main os. My one remaining laptop is a compaq that I got from QVC four years ago for 700 bucks (5 payments same as cash). My trend-micro p-cillin on it keeps 'warning!!!' me that XP SP1 is a 'security risk'. I wouldn't even HAVE trend-micro cr*p on it but my company requires it for vpn access (and I do so love to work from home). But if you want to feel secure, drat it!!!, get linux and LEARN it. You won't have to suffer through Microsh*t stuff anymore, like MsWord 2003.

By the way, I'm a 57-year-old woman which belies the lie that kiddies are the 'best puter folks'. ha ha NOT.

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M-soft is "registering" your software?
by wingee / September 1, 2005 11:35 PM PDT

I don't have time to read all of the posts. I apologize if this matter was previously addressed.

A friend of mine always runs 2 partitions on his hard drive with 2 separate (but the same) operating systems. When trying to upgrade both partititions to XP SP2 he was only able to upgrade one of the XP's. Seems that SP2 "registers" the software with MS which prevents pirated copies from being able to get updates. In this case, someone legitimately running his XP (twice) on 2 partitions is also thwarted. Must be illegal to run XP twice on the same computer?

Anybody else hear that SP2 registers your software in this manner?

Only solution here was to wipe out everything and reinstall Win2000 on both partitions.

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sp2-upgrade...NOT!
by sharee100 / September 2, 2005 12:14 AM PDT

I, too, am a mature woman. I have built both my computers at home from scratch. Microsoft already has enough control over my life. I have enough protection that I personally have chosen. The number one winner's reason's for updating to sp2 are exactly the reasons why I won't upgrade. I don't want Microsoft monitoring what I do on my computer. I haven't needed a babysitter for over 40 years. Linux? I'm thinking about it. It's just that I have some programs that announce they only run on Windows.

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I agree with NOT
by datapilotsucks / September 2, 2005 3:00 AM PDT
In reply to: sp2-upgrade...NOT!

Microsoft Windows o/s is so blithely accepted by so many people that it's hard to think back to when an operating system was supposed to work FOR the user instead of the other way around. It is a sign of the times that Mr. Gates has become so fabulously wealthy on the deep frustration of so... many... people!!! It is now at the stage where it is not so much a problem as a condition! There's no way out. Sure, sure... Linux, Apple... it's a different world there, and you're out of synch with the other billions of users. But we have eaten of the fruit of the Dark One, and now we are his minions. Just put your head down, and memorize the Hotfix numbers and a brief synopsis of what each one does and how each one interacts with all the previous ones. Oh. And if you have a problem, report it to the MS police so they can create another drove of Hotfixes for you to memorize.
Still... Linux... hmmmm. Maybe... maybe...

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I agree with: "I agree with NOT"! lol
by eye2fun / September 4, 2005 9:12 PM PDT
In reply to: I agree with NOT

I thought I was the only one with a "Dark" sense of humour in these forums. Yes been around a few of these people like Mr. Gates. They use a twist of the old adage "A penny for your thoughts", to them it's "A million $ for your thoughts" (but they never pay up when they steal your idea and make another billion)! A penny, a million $ all the same them. Their biggest worry is "What shall I eat today, or who shall I eat"? Tough decisions must be made everyday of their lifes. It's really tough being filthy rich, isn't it? But you know when they leave and say "Thanks a million" they really mean it.

Seriously you need to give Linux a try. Open source is the wave of the future and it's a way to take back control of YOUR computer. Download a "Live CD" of SimplyMepis or PCLinuxOS. Live meaning you boot it direct from your the CD Drive and in a couple minutes your on the net surfing. No drivers or questions asked. Fastest growing OS in the world and gaining on Mr. Gates "Winblows XP" everyday. Don't "Google-It" that would put you in sync with the "In Crowd", use "Metacrawler" (distance relative of "Webcrawler"). OK so it does use Google and other search engines to get more results, just don't tell anybody so you can remain out of sync. Put a smile on your face so at least you die laughing at Gates and Company.
Laterz!
Get Linux and get "Geekatized"! It's easy and fun!

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Trying to reach member - eye2fun
by barkerrd / September 9, 2005 3:40 AM PDT

I am sorry that this message is not on the present subject. However, I am trying to get in touch with the member "eye2fun". I am very interested in his/her activity of fixing up old computers for seniors. I am a computer mentor at a nearby senior center and I would love to get involved with providing computers for deserving seniors.
Please email me at prentiss105ATyahooDOTCom

Don

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sp2-upgrade...NOT!
by schroed / September 4, 2005 8:43 PM PDT
In reply to: sp2-upgrade...NOT!

more strength to your arm - SP2 has stuffed my machine twice so far - full re-install required - they can go to buggery...

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Winblows XP SP-2 Full of Hot Air!
by eye2fun / September 4, 2005 2:34 PM PDT

Question from John: ''I am running Windows XP SP1 and wonder if it is really necessary to upgrade to SP2''? Answer: No! Your computer will still run and most likely survive even with the force, fear and scare tactics used to make you upgrade.

I run Windows XP on just a few of my own computers, besides the many installs on customers computers. I let them decide and then I update it with all patches and fixes for them. I personally have SP-2 installed on just one of my computers, but have installed it over a dozen times (that's just on my own computers). The reason is because of #1- Blue Screen of Death, #2- Driver Conflicts (especially with certain ATI Video cards), #3- I'am a heavy duty computer user and a normal ''Windows XP'' installation for me lasts about 6 months. Mostly I end up uninstalling SP-2 or restoring it to the point before it was installed. But thats the OS, and when you take an OS that belongs in the ''Looni Bin'', and try to patch it up with files (SP-2) half the size of the original install disk, that's what you get. I still have ''Windows 98 SE'' (for over 7 years) running on a newer computer where I merely pulled the hard drive out of old one and put in the new one. Win98 simply re-installs itself, with some new drivers added of course, but it runs great and I still use it. Try that with a ''Winblows XP'' hard drive, let alone with a SP-2 upgrade installed ( I might add even if you run a repair on XP you will still need to reinstall SP-2, not need to, MUST reinstall at this point, just to uninstall it.)! That puter with a 2.8 GHz proc. and a gig of ram blows the dual boot XP partition install out of the water on speed, same puter.

Needless to say, I don't use the computer partition with the SP-2 upgrade too often on the net and always keep a spare on a Dual-Booted partition just in case. Microsoft won't allow you to install XP w/SP-2 and other MS updates more than one install per license, even if it is on the same computer (duh). Especially now (since Billy isn't keeping up with the other rich kids in the world), you have to validate your installation, in effect registering it so it becomes a one time use peice of software (they claim you don't have to register it, bull). OK, so it's not quite that bad yet, but one running installation is all your allowed per license even on the same computer. Microsoft and many other companies, are headed for Consummer-itis, a disease spread by Corporate Greed! Where the next version of windows will probably be time limited and virtually controlled by Microsoft's Online Update program. Big Brother is here, just not in the form of the government alone! Music and film industry are already regulating how, when, and where you use their products in the world and on the net. I thought this country was founded on the principle of ''Personal'' (like in live people not corporate enities) Freedom and Choice! Corporations with our government as a puppet, are taking away those freedoms more and more everyday, especially in the world of the Internet. They use virus scares, and security compromises to push us further into a corner and deprive us of our freedom. Thank God for the Linux Community and an OS that is not so tightly controlled, is very secure, and doesn't require you to do anything more than just use it. On top of that, it is a clone of the very OS (Unix), Most of the Corporate Gods use. You can bet on the fact that even Microsoft runs Unix machines somewhere in their organization!

After reading the winning reviews since C/Net begin this web feature, I'm wondering if those winning front page reviews are really just ''Corporate Decoys or Come-Ons'' designed and furnished by our ''Corporate Big Brothers'' to look pretty and dress up the front page! Absolutely none of them are negative in any way towards companies like Microsoft with ''Winblows XP'' (sorry for the mispelling in case a MS corporate cop sees this). Remember we still sorta have ''Freedom of Speech''. Not that all the divisions in Microsoft are all bad, just the ''Windows Division'', because of lack of competion. In China (in that cutthroat business environment), MS Windows would just be an also ran. It would be here too, if our government would do more than slap the hand of ''Corporate Perps'' (perpetrators), greasing their palms with greenbacks. Now if you look at some of MS's other Divisions (where they have competion and they have better leaders), you will find some better products, like in MSN or the Gaming Division with Xbox being sure to give Sony a run for their money. We still need to watch out for the biggest brother of them all in ''China''! ''Lenovo'' Computers, which recently aquired (bought) IBM's Personal Computer Division, is now #3 behind Dell and HP in computer sales worldwide. They haven't even started to sell Lenovo Computers outside of China. Yet! In two years ''Lenovo'' is slated to be number ''One'', more than doubling their sales by selling their brand to the world (Is a Lenovo puter in your future? Probably)! How much do you spend on items made in China? or, What do you have that wasn't made in China? Not much! With our help (Money), we are seeing rise to a ''Giant'' that has been sleeping for centuries. With an over 700 Billion Dollar yearly trade surplus, they won't kill us, they'll buy us! Even Japan the little Island Giant, we helped raise from the last go around is suffering from the same sort of trade deficit with China.

I know what does this all have to do with a lame SP-2 upgrade, that is sure to slow down your computer (if not crash it), attempt to control ''YOUR'' computer with lousy add-on programs that just plain don't do the job they're supposed to do. Any number of firewalls, virus programs, spyware programs all rate better than ones coming out of Microsoft. Control is what Microsoft Windows Division is seeking because it's power and use in the world is waning. Hopefully as in the past when Giants are no longer able to control us they fall. "Winblows OS" is the one that needs to die along with the noose it has around our necks. I see a light at the end of the tunnel and it's NOT ''Winblows Vista'' (ooh!). If (another spoiled brat) Steven Jobs would get off his throne (toilet) and start licensing Mac OS-10 for use on other brands (now that they're going to be using Intel Processors), they may even be able to help topple the giant. What I'm hoping for and it seems to be coming true is that more of you out there begin to see the ''Light'' that Linux is now bringing to the world and instead of installing SP-2 you give Linux a try. Start surfing the net with confidence and No Fear that something is going to bite you. There is a flavor for everyone and most are offering you a free look with a bootable CD. You don't even have to install it to appreciate it's ease of use. They are called ''Live CD's'' that decompress on the fly and are capable of running on even the newest of equipment. You'll be shocked on how much of your hardware runs right, the moment you've logged into this Linux OS. Sound, keyboards, mice, video cards, network cards all run the moment your in! Open the Web Browser and your on the net instantly. All off of a CD you record for free! I have enclosed various links below.
Oh yea I'm 57 and about as geekatized and gamerized as any kid on the block. Been puterizing for over twenty years. That's bound to drive you alittle batty. heehee Cheers!

*** The one computer I still have ''Windows XP with SP-2'' on (Slipstream installed! which if you read the license aggreement closely, is a license violation), is my New Custom Gaming Computer with a AMD 64 X2 4400+, but I also run Mepis Linux with Transgaming's ''Cedega and Point to Play'', where most games installed on the ''Windows XP'' drive are playable on the ''Linux'' install. Only had this beast for three weeks, so should get another 5 mo. use out XP install. Don't forget to have all your newest equipment drivers handy and especially those Sata drivers on a floppy (no less, hee heee), before installing ''Winblows XP SP-2''! Mepis OS (Linux) is ready right out of the box and is a much simpler install.
*** http://www.mepis.com/ = Reason to Love Linux for the Future! Download SimplyMepis, burn to a CD, run it, and you'll be using Linux even on the newest machines, without even installing it. You'll be test driving this OS in minutes! Simply Amazing!
*** http://www.transgaming.com/news.php?newsid=156 = Making the switch to Linux easier everyday for gamers worldwide! Play your favorite games on Linux right from your ''Winblows'' partition.
*** http://smb.sygate.com/download/download.php?pid=spf = Although Sygate was recently purchased by Symantic, they still offer the best Free firewall out there for ''Winblows''! *Address is a direct download link.
*** http://www.terabyteunlimited.com/bootitng.html = Terabyte's Next Generation Boot-it NG! Simpliest graphical boot and partitioning software on earth! Recover, restore, boot, manage, and even ''Clone'' your hard drives especially if using still using ''Winblows XP''.

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Windows XP SP@ Upgrade
by rskolin / September 1, 2005 10:28 PM PDT

Last year my computer did an automatic upgrade to SP2. What followed was a nightmare! I lost everything. And, I was on the phone with Dell for untold hours trying to get it repaired. Eventually, I removed the upgrade and got up and running again. The next day I told several coworkers of my experience. One found an alert message somewhere that recommended avoiding the upgrade because it was new and still had some bugs. I have since avoided it like the plague but am thinking about it now. I'd hate to go through that mess again, especially since my Dell support warranty has expired.

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No need for SP2!
by HeartzX2 / September 1, 2005 10:53 PM PDT
In reply to: Windows XP SP@ Upgrade

I heard so many horror stories from associates about the mess they had after downloading SP2 that I avoided it completely. My Dell laptop runs smooth as silk without the update, and between my linksys firewall and Norton Anti-Virus, I keep virus and security breech free. Save yourself the headache!

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Agreed. SP2 is overkill
by zingerhill / September 1, 2005 11:17 PM PDT
In reply to: No need for SP2!

The easiest way to get the security advantages from SP2 is to switch from IE to Firefox. If you stick with IE, you will need to be constantly monitoring patches and security fixes. Since I've switched to Firefox I no longer have any issues with spyware. You'll still need IE because some websites won't render right. But those are few and far between.

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XP SP2 Firewall "Back-up" Capability
by krdorsey / September 1, 2005 10:39 PM PDT

Miguel,

Relative to your number two reason to upgrade to SP2, specifically the statement that Windows Firewall will act as an emergency backup, Microsoft's website at:

http://www.microsoft.com/athome/security/protect/firewall.mspx

specifically states that ''Using two firewalls on the same connection could cause issues with connectivity to the Internet or other unexpected behavior.''

This appear to be in conflict with the use of the Windows XP firewall as a backup to another software-based firewall.

I was unable to find any other information on the Microsoft site that actually described the ''back-up'' functionality.

I agree, this would be very cool, but is it actually implemented?

Keith,

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XP SP2 Firewall and Thrid Party Firewall
by laanrobe / September 7, 2005 8:25 PM PDT

Miguel,

I have the same concern as Keith. This is the first time I have heard of the capability of Windows Firewall to detect the presence of a third party firewall. Thus far I have always understood (also from ZoneAlarm) that you need to disable the Windows Firewall if you use a third party firewall. I have ZoneAlarm and XP SP2 on my machine. After I read your information about Windows Firewall automatically kicking in when disabling your other firewall, I shut down ZoneAlarm and switched on the Windows Firewall. Afteer that I reactivated ZoneAlarm. Result: Windows Firewall remained active and I lost all internet connection...

Robert

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Windows XP SP2
by pguglietti / September 1, 2005 10:52 PM PDT

The issue of what how SP2 renders a user's XP or XP SP1 disks useless has not been addressed. What happens if a re-installation is necessary?

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my guess is...
by piercedtiger / September 1, 2005 11:15 PM PDT
In reply to: Windows XP SP2

You're screwed...

I was helping out out net admin re-image all the student PC's this week. We run XP SP2 from a image file created at home office and shipper out to all the campuses. We have the original XP Home discs that came with the Dell's (useless now, I know), and some XP SP1 discs. Those are next to useless now as well from what I can see. The image files have the i386 folder included so we don't need the Windows CD to make changes, but that's it. We had to track down an XP SP2 disc (not sure if it's a legal copy or not) just to install the Recovery Console as a boot option so we don't need to re-image for every minor error. At this point the net admin and I were trying to decide if this was legal as we didn't have a license for that disc... But the SP1 discs would not work. Running "/i386/winnt32.exe /cmdcons" reported that we had the wrong version of windows. Our solution with the image files essentially formats and reinstalls everything so that's my guess as to what you'd have to do after upgrading to SP2. No reinstalling unless your PC came with SP2 or you have an XP SP2 install disc.

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thinks are difficult
by Arnellos / September 1, 2005 11:31 PM PDT

Hello
First of all sorry for my English which are poor
I have a PC and a laptop. The thirst one had XP SP1 and the laptop had XP SP2 preinstalled. I use a GIS program from ESRI ArcGis 9 . After a clear installation on my PC ant a full upgrade from Microsoft, included SP2 it was imposimple to install the program. I checked the ESRI site I did all I could do and nothing could come out. So I uninstall the SP2 and I continued the installation with no problem. I have to say here that the reinstallation was due to major upgrade to my PC. After that updating my PC the SP2 was installed because accidentally I turned on the upgrade of Windows. Everything was working perfectly until I had to install an extension to the same program. The same problem the installation stopped at the point that some modules had to be registered. The same happen when I try the repair option of the installation package.
In the other hand at my laptop I had no problem installing or repairing the same software.
I am not an expert on computers but I think that a behavior like that of a software, is not acceptable. I fear that other thinks might happen under our awareness that make us waste to mach time and effort to keep our pc running smooth against the time we spent working for what we have them.
If that particular program that I work, which is essential for my work could run at apple system I for sure should have an apple machine which may be much expensive but it save you time and mental effort.
Thank you for your time
Gannis Arnellos
Forest engineer

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9/2/05 Upgrading to Windows XP SP2: yes or no?
by SwanMoon / September 1, 2005 11:41 PM PDT

One of the area's of concern prior to upgrading your computer to Windows XP SP2, would be to check with your computer manufacturer. For example, some Hewlitt Packard computer's that came with XP SP1 has a specialty download that must be installed prior to the installation of XP SP2.

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