Windows XP Help

Patches and Service Pack

1. What is a Patch or Service Pack?

As with any software, bugs can be found or features missing from the orginal software supplied. So, Microsoft releases a patch which fixes a problem they found or a missing feature, this patch will replace programs and files on your system with newer versions. A Service Pack is actually a collection of patches put together into one package so your system is up to date. The Current Service Pack for XP is version 2.

2. Where can I get the latest Patches or Service Pack?

Most patches are available from WindowsUpdate website, the technical Knowledge Base or Microsoft's Security Page. Patches are usually never emailed to you from Microsoft.
Information of XP Service Packs is available on Microsoft Technet site. The latest Release of Service Pack 3 is available from here.

Automatic updates

3. How to I save Windows Update files?

The Microsoft Windows Update site automatically downloads and installs updates dynamically onto your computer. To download updates, click on Personalize Windows Update then tick option to Enable the link to the Windows Update Catalog then click on Windows Update Catalog and then Find Updates, you will be given the option to select patches to download and enter the folder where to save them to.
Updates are also available via the Knowledge Base documentation which give links to the patches and these can be saved to your hard disk (you need to know the KB numbers e.g. KB823980 or security update e.g. MS03-026.

4. I cannot access Microsoft's Windows Update page?

First check your Update settings in the System control panel in the Automatic Updates page. If you want to manually download files, select Turn off automatic updating. Also, check your Privacy and Security settings in Internet Options are not too restrictive, Medium/Low settings should suffice. An alternative update script is available from Microsoft.
If you have problems with accessing the web page, make sure Automatic Windows Update and the Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) services are running. Also, try re-registering the windows update DLLs in c:\Windows\System32 e.g. regsvr32 wu*.dll.

5. I have downloaded Service Pack for Windows XP but it will not install?

First make sure you have enough room on C: to save backup files and install the service pack. Also, check that your copy of Windows has a legal Product Code and is Activated. Also, check that the language version of the pack is the same as the language of Windows XP you already have installed. If for some other reason you cannot install try these tips: run a defrag on C: drive, make sure you shutdown any background programs that may interfere, make sure you do not have bad or old drivers installed, check for errors in the Event Log. Make sure your PC meets the minimum requirements for Windows XP.

6. I have installed SPx but some applications or hardware does not work?

You may need to reinstall the application or the device driver software again as the Service Pack may have overwritten the application's files or device drivers.

7. How do I create a slipstreamed Windows XP SPx CD?

You can create it using a Windows XP CD and the Network install version of the service pack and then use these instructions.

8. There are some folders called $NTUninstallQxxxxxx$, can I delete these?

These folders contain old files and settings which were backed up when you applied a patch, they are used if you ever need to uninstall a patch. You can delete them if you are satisified the patch has worked, then you can remove the entry in Add/Remove Programs by double clicking it and say yes to remove the entry since the uninstall directory is not longer accessible.

9. I try to download and install patches from the WindowsUpdate site but will not install?

Rename the Catroot2 directory in C:\Windows\System32 folder and reboot and try again. If you have AOL 8 installed then update your AOL software to latest version. If unable to get updates then download them manually from Microsoft's Security Page.

10. Some patches say its for 32 bit or 64 bit edition. Which one do I use?

Most PCs are 32 bit Pentium based computers. The Itanium processor used on high end workstations or Servers will be 64 bit. AMD have released the Athlon 64 which is 64 bit but still use 32 bit version of Windows XP. If in doubt, use the 32 bit edition.

11. I have tried to download the latest patches, but there haven't been any for some time?

To cut the number of patches to download and install, Microsoft have decided to release all patches every second Tuesday of every month. See here for more details of the changes.

12. I have an office or company with lots of PCs, how can I easily deploy patches?

Microsoft has a product called Windows Software Update Services (WSUS) which you can download and install on any Windows 2008 or later server and use Group Policy to deploy patches to all your PCs in your office or company.