Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 Review and Hints

By Cathy Margolin,

Microsoft released Service Pack 2 on August 26th for general downloads and automatic updates. When Windows XP was shipped originally everything was open and now with Service Pack 2 (SP2), many holes are automatically turned off. This is a good thing. It helps to protect you from many of the newest exploits and adds a level of security to your computer that had been missing previously. It has a built in Pop-up blocker, more privacy options, a more robust Firewall, Internet Explorer Information Bar , improved wireless support, upgrades to Windows Media Player, and security tools for Outlook Express.

If you live in the corporate world, you need to manage when things like patches happen to prevent conflicts. Microsoft released a blocker tool called XPSP2BlockerTools.EXE

This tool will block the update for originally 4 months, but has been extended to 8 months. Many users have automatic update turned on and this is a way for the corporate world to manage the process.

Since this is also a very large update (278 meg), you might download it first, or order a free CD from Microsoft ( .

Before you do any updates, you must backup your system. Before I did a live install Presentation, I used Norton Ghost to do a bit by bit copy of my hard drive to another hard drive (I have turned all my hard drives into removable hard drives by using the removable drive bays, since hard drives are very cheap these days). Better to be safe than sorry. You also need 1.8 gig of space still left on your drive for the install.

Check your computer for virues, and spyware (Adaware and Spybot Search and Destroy are two free ones). You may also want to create a System Restore point. Install all Windows updates until SP2. The update install program from has changed. Select “Custom Install: High Priority and Optional Updates for Your Computer” and download all but SP2.

When you are ready for SP2, turn off any firewalls and virus checkers (Start, Run, MSCONFIG, startup tab, and unselect your virus checker and firewall, then reboot). Make certain you log on an administrator account.

Go to Internet Explorer, Tools, Windows Update and start to install SP2. You can use Custom or Express for SP2. It will take a large amount of time. On my 1 gig laptop, with it on a CD, it took about 40 minutes. It took about the same total time on my 3gig PC using 15 minutes to download the patch using a cable modem. You do need to check it as it goes through the upgrade. When I did mine, it was a good time to clean my desk. Horrors, I know!

It will then restart. I did have problems rebooting my main 3 gig machine, so I went into safe mode and turned off the firewall and virus checker and it finally worked.

The firewall did see my Zonealarm and used Zonealarm instead. FTP programs have to be allowed to work such as Control Panel | Security Center | Windows Firewall
and under the "Exceptions" tab, you can use the "Add Program" button to add WS_FTP.

I had a problem with Norton Systemworks for a while where the Security Center did not recognize it, but in late November Symantec finally fixed it via a download (and if it does not, go to Symantec support, and click on the automated tool and usually it will download some more patches). If that does not work, purchase one of the newer Antivirus programs.

If a program does not work with SP2, try adding it to the exceptions tab as above. I learned the hard way about which programs use ports to connect. GoToMyPC uses ports which I did not think of before I had to access the computer it was running on remotely. I had to get someone at the computer’s location to allow it as an exception. Seems Photoshop wanted access also for it’s help files, so I allowed that as an exception.

But at least I feel better about my security on my PC, even though it does take some maintenance!

Another Presentation I did plus the links to information on the Microsoft website are below:

 (Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 Presentation and Links  Background information for Service Pack 2 with links to Microsoft hints.)



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