Windows XP Service Pack Installation Checklist




This check list is not for everyone.  This checklist is intended to cover the majority of problem encountered while attempting to install a Service Pack.  This checklist is designed for Windows XP, however most steps can apply to any operating system.




Automatic Update is Microsoft's preferred method to get Windows XP Service Pack 3.

To set for AU:
Right click My Computer, click Properties
Click Automatic Update tab.
Check "Automatic (recommended)"
Click OK and follow prompts.

Many people, myself included, feel Automatic Update is not the best.
You are better able to avoid internet issues and other possible issues if you have SP-3 on CD or at least in a file on the hard drive.
If you pay for bandwidth or you are limited on internet time, you may be better off using one of the options listed in Step 1 below.

Regardless which method you choose, look at the checklist and make sure your computer is ready.
Malware and viruses, whether known or unknown are some of the major causes of issues relating to SP-3 installation.


The steps in red should be accomplished just before the installation.  The other steps may only be necessary if there are problems.  If you anticipate installation issues, perform all steps.


Try installing Windows XP Service Pack 3 this way:
1.  Do not use Express Installation.
Order Service Pack 3 on CD
Download the Network Installation from here: (be sure to select the correct language)
Download Windows XP Service Pack3
DSL takes about 20 minutes, if you do not have high speed access, get a friend to D/L SP3 for you.
Then burn it to a CD and keep for the future.

2.  It is best to resolve current issues BEFORE installing Service Packs.

3.  Data should be safe, back-up important data just in case if you do not already have a back-up plan.

4.  Check to make sure you have all updated drivers.  Also be sure any mission critical software is supported by SP3

5.  You should have at least 2gb free space (Less than half that is needed for Windows XP SP3, but if you are that close, you need to start looking for ways to free space or add another hard drive.)

6.  Check with computer manufacturer to insure compatibility with Windows XP SP3, there were a few models with SP1/2 where the company has said wait while the manufacturer implemented a fix.  This is especially important if you have something other than a Desktop such as a laptop, Tablet PC etc.  Also see "Known issues caused by Windows XP Service Pack 3" on the link.
Get the Latest Updates and Information from Your PC Manufacturer.
7.  Run an updated virus scan.
Or Scan for Viruses online.
Sometimes it is a good idea to run more than one to ensure nothing is missed:
Kaspersky Online Virus Scanner
Panda ActiveScan
Trend Micro House Call
Symantec Security Check

8.  Run Ad-Aware (free version)
Update if you already have it.

Update if you already have it.
You may want to use both of these tools to be sure all spyware is gone.

Make sure all tools used in the above four steps are updated within the last few days.  Do not assume recently downloaded/installed tools are up to date.

9.  Run chkdsk to check file system.

10.  Perform Disk Cleanup (all boxes checked except Compress old files)

11.  Perform Disk Defragmentation.
Start/All Programs/Accessories/Disk Defragmenter

12.  Ensure correct date, time and don't forget Time Zone .

13.  Disconnect all peripherals (camera, scanner, printer etc)

When you are ready:
14.  Create a Restore Point in System Restore

15.  Go to MSCONFIG, make note of what is checked in Start-Up tab then uncheck all in Start-up tab.

16.  Physically disconnect the network connection

17.  Reboot the computer
Login as an Administrator, disable ALL unnecessary applications including antivirus.
Do NOT touch any keys during the process unless necessary.

18.  Install SP3 by double clicking on it, follow the prompts.

19.  Go back to MSCONFIG and recheck what you unchecked.

20.  Reboot

21.  Connect the network connection

22.  Perform Windows Update:
Start/all Programs/Windows Update.
Install ALL Ctitical Updates no more than three at a time.
Next three.
Install Recommended Updates as desired after determining they apply to your computer.

23.  Reconnect peripherals disconnected earlier

24.  Run Disk Defragmenter:
Start/All Programs/Accessories/System Tools/Disk Defragmenter

25.  Do you want to Save Space After Installing Updates?

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This site was last updated Thursday, 29 January 2009