Windows XP Service Pack 3 – Part 3 “Installing SP3 Using Windows Update”
Part 3 was not planned but came about based on a question posted to one of the Microsoft Windows XP newsgroups. For Parts 1 and 2 I manually downloaded the Windows XP Service Pack 3 .exe file named: (WindowsXP-KB936929-SP3-x86-ENU.exe) and used it to install SP3, skipping the more commonly used Microsoft Windows Update site: http://www.update.microsoft.com/microsoftupdate/v6/default.aspx?ln=en-us
In part 3 of this series will identify where Windows Updates downloads the SP3 update files to on your hard drive and how much disk space does it really take to install SP3.
I will also cover what gets cleaned up during and after installing SP3, what is left behind on your hard drive, a trick on how to free up some drive space before you install SP3 and what you can safely delete after installing SP3 to gain back even more of that lost disk space. At the end of this article I’ll make some suggestions on how to optimize your chances of installing SP3 successfully.
At the end of the article is a listing of Microsoft Knowledge Base articles worth reading, including trouble shooting information and how to reach Microsoft for free SP3 technical support.
Even if you have already installed SP3 I’ll include information current SP3 users may find useful.
In part 3 of this series one thing I am not going to do is compare the results of using Windows Update to the prior methods of installing SP3 that used the download file to install SP3 as covered in parts 1 and 2.
For these tests I used a PC with a fresh install of Windows XP Pro Service Pack 2. The test pc also had a bare minimum of utilities and software applications installed, including Norton’s Ghost (Version 10), which I used to create an image backup of the PC before SP3 is installed. This backup file is my baseline which allows me to restore the PC back to a known state before each test is conducted. It will also serve as my escape hatch just in case Windows Update failed to install SP3.
CCleaner:http://www.ccleaner.com/ A utility that removes unwanted cookies, temporary files and other junk. Note that when CCleaner is first installed most if not all the options are checked which is far too aggressive so I unchecked all the ‘Advanced Options’ and selectively checked only those options that were of some value in establishing a clean baseline for the testing.
Belarc Advisor:http://www.belarc.com/free_download.html This utility will be used to display the list of security updates that have been installed after each test. Belarc will be used to help you easily identify a specific class of folders that can be deleted to free up disk space either before or after installing SP3. So download Belarc and install this utility before you install SP3.
Already installed SP3, it’s not too late to use Belarc, as you can still safely delete a significant number of folders, even if a number of days, weeks or months have passed after you installed SP3.
Installing SP3 using Windows Update were conducted with using Zone Alarm and the built in Windows Firewall. There were no noticeable differences in the time it took to install SP3 using either firewall. However in order to document and collect the data I wanted, a series of tests were conducted by repeatedly installing SP3 using Windows Update over a number of days and there where variations in the time to install SP3 ranging from as little as 24 minutes to as much as 50 minutes. My Internet service is rated at 20Mbps and typically speed test results are 19Mbps.
No other Microsoft or third part applications such as MS Office, Windows Defender, Windows Live One Care, Anti-Virus/Spyware, IE 7 or IE 8 beta, Etc. were installed. The intent is to exclude Office or other product updates from being installed or interfered with during the Windows update process.
Note: Once you install SP3 you can always choose to uninstall SP3, but you lose the ability to uninstall any earlier service pack. Before you install SP3 you can verify this by opening the Control Panel and selecting the Add or Remove programs feature (make sure the ‘Check Updates’ box has a check mark), you will the last service pack you installed (typically SP2), after installing SP3 you will only see SP3 listed.