Windows XP SP3 Cheat Sheet


Since it’s release on May 7th there have been libraries writen about the woes of XP SP3. In additon to the problems there have been many reports of installations with no problems. In fact there are three times as many people who have had no problems what-so-ever. This is as expected given the 25% failure rate that we’ve seen at PC Pitstop. But with a 25% failure rate, this service pack is anything but ordinary.

Our two previous articles described the problems and fixes in detail and gave additional information regarding the causes of the problems. You can find those articles here and here. Because we’re not quite ready to sound the all clear, I thought it would be a good idea to outline a quick reference to help you cope with XP SP3. Use it as a “cheat sheet” for XP SP3.

1 Microsoft Help Line 1-866-234-6020
2 Microsoft SP3 Support
3 HP/AMD Based You must own an HP Pavilion, Presario or Media Center with Windows XP and an AMD processor.
You must install this update prior to applying Windows XP SP3 update.
HP Help and Support
4 A8N32-SLI Motherboard If your system has this Asus motherboard, insert a USB flash drive
5 Wireless card causes blue screen Belkin F5D6001,SMC 2635W, D-Link DWL-520 rev. C , Linksys WPC11 v1, Blitz NetWave Point PC,Corega WLPCIB-11, SMC 2602W rev.2, Xterasys Cardbus XN-2411b, D-Link DWL-520 rev. C, Xterasys Cardbus XN-2411b, Fiberline FL-WL-200X, 3com Office Connect 3CRSHPW796.
6 System Uses Norton/Symantec Turn off or better yet uninstall your Norton/Symantec and all other antivirus before SP3 installation. *
7 No boot after installing SP3 Even if your system won’t boot you can use Recovery Console. You will need your XP cd. Scroll to Method 4. This is not the F2 command.
8 Microsoft. How to Remove SP3 Microsoft Help and Support ID 950249 rev. 4.0 dated 5/24, 2008

The problem that I find interesting is the one about wireless cards and SP3. Many people won’t know which wireless card is used in their system. Sometimes this information can be hard to find. I would suggest using Driver Alert Free Scan to identify the status of your Wireless and network drivers. Once identified you can either use the program to download the driver or find and install the latest driver yourself. There hasn’t been much published informatin about this, The important part is to be sure the wireless and network drivers are up-to-date.

If you are fortunate and find none of the above situations pertain to your setup, then SP3 installation should be safe. Please keep in mind that we’re still not recommending the installation. Unless you have a pressing need for the update, there is no reason to rush in to the abyss.

* Be sure to reinstall and activate your antivirus after SP3 installation.

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112 thoughts on “Windows XP SP3 Cheat Sheet”

  1. Tony says, Acronis Full Backup before SP3 saves the day in my book. I ran into SP3 probs before the final release.And as usuall who does full easy backups. Can you say when it’s too late. From the computer man. been into computers since the Commodore days & heavily Since 2001 with my old Sony Vaio the 1st 1 gigahertz computer on the market(with Windows Me). Still works & runs Xp No Prob

  2. first im having lots of problem installing sp3 and when i succeed installing it another problem occurred. if I play 3d games my pc hangs. then i find hard time restarting my Pc. I decided to moved all my files to drive D. then reformat my pc using the sp3. delete the drive C to reinstall the sp3. succeed and no problem anymore playing 3D games.

  3. All,

    Thanks for the tips but I finally needed to redo my entire system as it now crawls across the ‘Net.
    I wiped out the C: drive (thank goodness all data is on D:), reformatted and installed the initial WinXP Sp1 that came with the system and installed drivers, then installed SP3 automatically and viola! – Perfect install and runs like a supped up Porsche. Probably the only way to go – could not install SP3 before doing it this way and also freed up 3/4 of the OS drive at the same time!

  4. SP3 installed no problem on a
    Asus Intel C2D T9300 laptop last month. Yesterday I installed SP3 on an old AMD Athlon FX53 with a MSI K8N Neo2 mobo. I made backups, held my breath and SP3 installed fine. If it had trashed my rigs I’d have been real angry like other posters, but here it installed just like a bunch of highly paid MS coders should write it.

  5. I don’t know about XP SP3 but I think that I’ll wait until I hear less complaints about it before I install it on my machines. I DO KNOW that I abhor Vista. What a disappointment. I think that the Video Professor finds it tailor-made to his product line, as the user interface seems ridiculously alien to most XP users. I’ll try to keep truckin’ with my XP Pro (MCE) with SP2 for as long as I can. Hey, I might have to go back to a pad & pencil (for work) and reading the newspaper & comic strips (for fun & info)before it’s all said and done. I don’t know if I can be that tough again.

  6. NEW extream graghics driver and app. accelerator,that allows for better detection of hard drives larger than 137 GB`ts. Addresses the problem i had, but a little late after one of my drives got to hot and shorted out.

  7. SP3 FRIED my computer i started to smell burning rubber or plastic,then i saw it was stuck on autodectet drives. My computer was so hott i could have fried an egg on it and YES i would like to shuve sp3 up gill dates bass! It is not that i like to complain i just do not like and will not let people get away with injustice. Microsoft started develeping vista before XP,when the final product was releasted they saw what many workers were tryng to warn the others about.Any honest worker that had aneything to do with VISTA will tell you that everybody knew that they should have gone back to the drawing bord.But they didnt they realiced a program with known design flaws,DO NOT COMPRIMISE BECAUSE IF ENOUGH PEOPLE DO THEN IT WILL BECOME COMMON PRACTICE.

  8. I installed SP3 after turning of anti-virus and firewall. I suddenly had all kinds of program “pop-ups” at startup, that were driving me crazy! So I un-installed SP3. But I still have program “pop-ups” at start up, but not as many and some now turn themselves off. Overall, SP3 still left my computer a mess !!! Have an off-brand computer with an AMD 1.4 Ghz processor and over 704 DDR MB ram.

  9. I have a Dell 8200 and a Dell laptop both are XP Pro pcs. I have tried and failed to install on both. I just cancelled the install after 6 hours on the desktop and 2 hours on the laptop. I had Windows firewall and AVG free verion 8 running. After reading everyone’s comments I have decided to avoid this update. The trouble is that MS Update doesn’t find any other updates now just the SP3 waiting installation. So, it would seem that if we don’t install SP3 we won’t maybe able to download any other updates. Incidentally, my last update on the laptop was the 20th June and on the desktop -four on the 11th July. My download history for the desktop lists two cnacelled attempts to install SP3. Whereas, the laptop doesn’t list the cancelled install.

  10. SP3 on 3 machines…no problems and they get heavy use. Although
    my main box is Suse Linux…no problems there either!!

  11. If I un-install SP3, does it truely go away or does it have a strangle hold on any of my daily programs? I have had nothing but headaches for over a year I think with re-occuring downloads of updates that have already been installed. I use Windows Live OneCare to police my computer for anti-virus etc and SP3 is a major headache. What does I do?

  12. I have a Dell C800 Laptop and and install Sp3 update and no problem still running great has been a couple weeks and still runing great, still my Windows live mail still working great. I was lury of installing the SP3, not no more. I do recomend it. My laptop is running better due to the update. I have been consindering Mac in the near future I don’t like vista at all. I still do run 98/Me for the most, just xp support more devices. No 98/Me drivers and hardware is getting more obsolete. Microsoft sucks for discontinuing.

  13. Joel Bergmann-

    I had no idea you loved Billy Boy so much. Me, I have absolutely no use for the man. Unfortunately, I am stuck with his OS.


  14. I have installed win XP SP3 over numerous systems running various hardware in my network. I have had no problems with any of the systems in regards to drivers or software. I will tell you that if you are running a illegal copy of XP, that you have to validate your operating software before you even get to install SP 3. I admin over 130 various workstations and laptops. I have had no issuses with SP 3 since it’s release on a legal copy of XP. I suggest that you run the Microsoft Update package instead of the Windows Update Package for your operating system and additional microsoft software.

  15. Robert F. Galante

    With the beginning of the end for WXP effective 06/30/2008, do you still plan to release a corrected version of Service Patch #3? Please reply. Thank you!
    Bob Galante 07/06/2008

  16. I installed sp3 on my hp501n. It has the amd k-6. I have had no (zero) problems since. I guess mine was made right after hp made the change, so I don’t need any update or fix. My XPsp3 works great. No complaints from me.

  17. Do not install sp3. I know have several programs I have paid for and can not access. I can’t even re-download the weather channel desktop program??? I work for a school district and our tech people will not install sp3. Wish I had known that before!

  18. Leslie Buchanan

    4th of July 08

    What if a person is already having tech problems, Incomplete Downloads, not removable, System Restore not working, Driver Alert not downloading correctly either if I remember correctly among all the things I’ve tried.

    I’ve printed out your scan, and thank you much. It’s about 15 pgs, and one of the first suggestions is Reduce the capacity of System Restore. Sounds reasonable. Would that also remove whatever harmful error has maybe caused missing files? I’ve already reduced it a little, from “Full” to see if I could detect any difference.

    I’m “tech-challenged”, no idea what flash card means, for instance, and don’t want to mess with my Registry. I know you can turn off Sys.Rest. and turn it back on, don’t know how risky that would be. Thanks.

    Does SP3 remove SP2?

  19. For anyone that lost the sound from installing sp3. Always seems to be a problem with ms.
    A great solution with better sound quality anyhow is Winamp lite. Try it you will like it whether you need it or not!

  20. mehboob sadicote

    I have recently upgraded via Windows Update to SP3. It has not given me any problems even though i have an AMD processor based system and an ASUS motherboard. The update not only retained all the tweaking i had done but also improved upon the boot times. All the flak we have been hearing on SP3 could probably be from people who have not disabled their firewall and anti virus before updating.

  21. FYI, No Problem, so far. Laptop, Toshiba, Tecra A9, Core2duo, T7500 @ 2.2GHz, 3Gb, Nvidia Quadro NVS 130M. Having used P.C.s extensively since Apple IIs and Kaypros, my rule of thumb for end-users (v. noble nerds) is to never be the first kid on your block to buy new-thingies – let others wring them out. That said, I crossed my fingers and downloaded SP3 over a 2Mb connection and, so far, have found no problems with my, admittedly, vanilla laptop with lots of legacy and new software as well as lots of stuff hung onto the USB2 and Firewire ports. No third-party anti-virus present at upgrade or special needs though.

  22. To person who could not install sp3 turn off all of your firewalls and antispyware. I learned the hard way.

  23. I had the “Access Denied” problem as well – it is caused by programs (like anti-virus, WMP DRM) changing access to registry entries and SP3 install can’t change those entries. Microsoft has a KB article about it, see . I had to use Method 3: Reset the registry and the file permissions using subinacl.exe. It takes a while for it to modify the registry. I was able to install SP3 after doing this. This also got rid of errors I was getting in jv16 Powertools 2008, it wasn’t able to delete some registry entries due to write permission changes.

  24. If you feel compelled to install this service pack, then a full system backup prior to the SP installation is a good idea.

  25. For AL m and others interested.
    With regards to clearing up previus SP and other updates install folders (the ones startng with $NtUninstal in the C:/windos folder, I would first ask if you really need the space. With enormous hard drives available at modest prices, the space gained is tiny. For those on a budget – You can delete these folders – BUT – only do so once you are certain that the update/service pack is causing no problems. Never met the situation of an update needing to be removed unless it has caused an immediate problem – so if the update has been on for say a month, with no problems, then delete the $NtUninstall folder – but you’ll only save between 500 – 750 mb. Not really worth it.

    As for my previous post – I am running a HP Pavilion laptop and use Symantec’s Norton Internet security – without a hitch on SP3

  26. Some interesting comments. I am surprised in this day and age to see people say things such as I won’t install it because .. blah..blah. The thing to remember is that SP3 IS a critical update. Not installing it will leave your computer comprimised. I was a BETA TESTER for SP3. I followed the instructions carefully for installation of the beta and the only problem I had was my Graphics driver. I FORGOT to download the latest driver first. No other problems with the beta. There is only one issue with the BETA which is widely reported on the technet forums, which is that some installations never show any further updates available. There should be at least 3 last time I checked, so if you have SP3 installed and working, check your updates still work. The fix is to remove SP3 via add/remove programs and reinstall – has worked everytime. I have supervised over 20 computer SP3 failures and EVERY one involved either a failure to turn off the firewall and antivius, or OLD DRIVERS or OTHER PROGRAMS running (spyware programs don’t like any SP due to the nature of the windows files getting changed) – TURN OFF ALL PROGRAMS and DOWNLOAD NEW DRIVERS. While connected to the update site you will be reasonably secure with the defenses down. Just remember to make sure to turn them back on before browsing afterwards.
    As for the ‘I am gonna switch to a mac’ brigade, if you wish to use a mac, carry on, but don’t start preaching … PLEASE ..

  27. i activated auto update for one installation on my hp cpq presario s3500cl & sp3 was done behind my back.. it seemed everything was fine but now my floppy drive won’t work (formatted floppies “can’t be formatted”?) and suddenly i needed to use floppies to talk to my stand alone xp pro dell, and then the two usb ports on my front trap door are dead? ms works disappeared on my hp so now i can’t display or read word docs on my hp cpq, and to top that off my s/a dell won’t burn a CD (windows can’t finish burning)anymore. To get a cover ltr & resume out of my dell I had to do some old time fancy dos-like dancing but i did manage to outwit the bstds–my neighbor said it was mercury retrograde. is that a new update?

  28. You always hear the “dammit, my next computer will be a Mac!” as a response to problems with Windows. If only it was that simple. My fellow engineering retiree friend and I have been treading down this path the last few months and here is the terrible truth: If you go to the Mac, you will miss the Windows software you have grown to depend on. The Mac versions are often inferior (Office, for example) and there simply are not equivalent app offerings available in many cases. Mac still only commands 8% of the market so developers simply cannot afford to develop an app for such a small market. Little wonder Mac sales are so poor, it costs twice as much or more. It IS true it is a better OS generally – but does it really matter for what YOU do? To me, a computer is a tool, not an object of emotional attachment. Bottom line: If you want to do the Mac experiment, it is a given that you should do a dual boot so you can run both the Mac OS and Windows – you will need the flexibility to run all the business apps, games, et al that are available on Windows plus whatever you use on the Mac side. Mac is very strong on the graphics side. Do you need that? But, back to the original subject, I’m following the advice I hear above, do not install SP3 until I get the “all clear” from Pit Stop, etc. What’s the rush? Mike

    PS: Don’t forget to disable your “automatic update” feature. Good luck, no easy answers!

  29. Well, since reading all the above comments, i have confirmed with myself not to install sp3. My philosophy; I’m not a “front-line” pc-user on the cutting edge of development platforms, my pc’s are behind a router, my xpsp2 works fine – it does exactly what i want it to do when i want it to do it. If it aint broke, dont fix it. simple as.
    ive also disabled automatic updates, as my pc works fine lol

  30. I did a google of the xpsp3 not authorized message from the update. And was pointed to a little routine that reconfigures all of the registry over to ADMINISTRATOR ownership. It is something that XP Pro owners have already. I added a pause command and fired it up. it ran for a long,long time in a “DOS” window. When it finished, I rebooted and ran XP SP3 update again and it took. I have to trust somebody even if the live in Redmond. of course theres still the extra folders from sp1 & sp2 around which mucks up the hard drive. Haven’t found a clean way to clean them up. It’s not as easy as deleting the uninstalls from the various updates to the system from a year or more ago. Microsoft should have created a dossier on each and every system that is matched up for updates so we the customer get EXACTLY what we should and nots some fools gold update that gets installed and someone like me has to come along and cleanup after. I wonder if Linux will ever be user friendly enough to recommend to my friends and relatives?

  31. Jon D. Trietsch

    I have installed windows sp3 on several diffrent type of machines, with mixed results.
    my main computer, had no problems, a dell desktop. i had 2 laptops, that after installation of sp3, would download updates but would fail upon installing them. found a way to fix it on a few diffrent web sites. i only had one instance where after installing sp3 that the machine would not boot, just kept cycling thru the bootup process, un-installed sp3 and it was fine. i’m a firm believer in keeping machines as update as possible, but not a big fan of searching for fixes for service packs released by a multi billion dollar corp, the least they could do is make sure it is right before releasing,

  32. I agree with Ian Harrison this site has become a MS/Bill Gates bashing site. I will no longer be reading the comments because I really do not believe that they would sabotage themselves or their customers. What would be the point? Even a company as big as MS does not need to loose loyal customers besides that I like Bill Gates, he comes across as a really good man and I admire what he has done for the international world, he has always given back a percentage of what he has earned to the needy and he certainly does not have a foul-mouthed opinion about everybody and everything as do some of the people who comment on this column. Surely it would be more professional to try and help fix the problem and perhaps admit that in some instances they are making the mistakes in the first place. Thanks for all the interesting and usable tips in your column I will certainly keep reading them.

  33. SP3 is one of these subliminal marketing attempts together with the killing of XP to get you mad with the program so you will migrate to Vista. Few traditional Microsft users will take a quantum leap by leaving Bill Gates and going to Apple or Linux. New buyers of first-time computers will most likely already have Vista installed so who really continues to make money is Bill (and of course his marketeers !!!!!

  34. Use WinXP64 (which is based on server code and uses server updates) and you don’t have to worry about the stinking 32bit version!!
    I have been using XP64 on a couple of machines for almost 2 years without a single glitch. Rock solid!!

  35. I installed WIN XP SP3 on two computers.
    One worked with no problems (at least not noticed).
    The other had freezing problems on startup and
    on running the net.

    I had to re-install the older XP SP2.
    It’s my fault I’m just one of those Dumbos who run after updates what ever they are.
    So I will have to wait until really needed.

  36. Hugh E Torrance

    *HEY* I have absolutely no intention of bothering with SP3…everything is working fine without it…and anyway Linux is my main operating systems…I recommend Linux Mint for those of you who have no Idea about Linux…just set your CD/DVD drive to be the first boot device in your BIOS and then leave it like that so you can start to try out all the different live distros…

  37. Michael R. Sanders

    It does apppear on the surface that MS may be dragging it’s feet (direct sabotage is unimaginable, even for MS) on supporting it’s existing Windows XP user base (all affected versions, not just Pro). I’d like to hear MS’s side, first.

    If MS is dragging it’s feet, or the “unimaginable,” then they are bombing AMD (just AMD’s, right? I might have missed something), colaterally. I am a shareholder of AMD and (as if) they don’t need any more trouble. Intel and MS could break the company… BAD for everybody, not just AMD customers, employees and shareholders! If they are guilty of messing around, then AMD ought to consider this as precident to launch another lawsuit, for indirect damages, incurred from anything illegal, which MS may have done.

    Just my opinion.

  38. Whether you have a problem seems to depend on what software you use, and how you use it. I found XP works OK with most Office applications, but crumbles at the first sign of anything requiring any intense CPU usage. 3D modelling, video editing on-the-fly etc.

  39. I did install SP3 but prior to doing so I made sure none of the anti-virus was running and also removed my wireless (USB – Linksys).

    I downloaded and installed SP3 without incident and then reinstalled my sofware and USB wireless device.

    No problems after a week……………..

  40. Even my embarrassed Dell and HP local reseller acknowledges :
    1- SP3 and its string of troubles is meant to discourage XP users and give them the final push to move to VISTA.
    2- VISTA is a MS disaster and a big failure in terms of computing OS
    3- More and more of his PC users customers are looking seriously to shift to a MAC

    I am happy he told me so.
    I am now moving to MAC. Stability and security are paramount.
    Bill Gates who is moving to charities is leaving behind a collection of amateurs who will destroy the heritage. Does he want to say to the people:”I was the one and only …”?

  41. Loaded SP3 on both laptop and desktop, then CD and DVD player stopped working on the desktop.Then spent 3 days trying to find a fix, finally found answer in your comments on pcpitstop. Removed sp3 from both computers, shortly thereafter was unable to receive E-Mails, on both computers (Internet was ok, and so was my mobile phone which is set up to receive E-Mails)I didn’t discover this problem for over a week and then it took me a week to find the reason why. Funny all these problems happened within 3 weeks of downloading SP3
    I will not be using SP3 in the near future if ever

  42. It has been a week since I installed the XP SP3 and I do not have any problems whatsoever. I must say that there has no been any appreciable change in performance. I am working on an HP Compaq nc8430.

  43. This seems to have become a site for MS bashing!
    Have you guys never heard of a backup program (such as Acronis).
    Put in SP3, if it is wrong for your set-up, just restore. Simple.
    btw I had no problem whatsoever, and I have no argument with MS or BG.

  44. mmmmm take the warning seriously if you dont need it dont download it,especially if you are running norton. I didnt listen to the warnings and it was fine for the first week or so then the problems started, crashing, blue sceen, you name it and it came with a vengance…. I can see why Mr Gates retired as they say watch the rats on a ship and you will know which way to run. very dissapointed in microslug should have bitten into an apple or something else may do when this is out of date and I need a new one or I may just get of my back side and do some gardening in the fresh air instead.

  45. After reading all of the emails about SP3, I have finally decided to skip it. I tried 5 times with no luck. The error says the core system file used to start this computer is not a MS Windows file. That’s right! Its a Mac. I have a Mac that also runs Windows (Apple duel boot). I needed Windows due to my investment in PC apps, but am slowly easing into Mac OS. I was very lucky that Dell refunded my money due to Vista problems, and purchased the Mac over a year ago. Its a little pricey, but well worth the price. I got the best of both worlds.

  46. I have an Acer Aspire 5100 laptop with AMD Turion X2 and 2MB of RAM, which came with XPPro MCE. After updating all drivers I “upgraded” to Vista Ultimate.
    Whatever I tried, this machine ran like molasses on Vista – “XYZ program not responding” half the time…- so I went back to XP Pro MCE2005: Snappy again! Just fine running.
    I installed SP3 when it first came out and e’thing seemed OK until I rebooted with an external USB or FW HDD plugged in: it just hangs and takes forever to boot. Booting up without the drives plugged in was OK.
    After uninstalling SP3 my notebook is its old spry self. It doesn’t have to be an HP to be problematic.

  47. Just for alerting me as to how I can REMOVE XP SP3 from my machine, I herewith authorize you (PC Pitstop) to bill me $50/month on a regular basis! And I figure I get away cheap, considering the indigestion I have been suffering as a result of the latest of Microsofts idiot moves!!!

    I suggest Microsoft should advertise falsely (something they have much experience doing) and promote the hell out of Win XP SP3 – – – this will cause many, many buyers, users, and consultants to move away from MS once and for all, and go to Apple, which is not a whole lot better. (I recall John Scully introducing a new OS, which was NOT backward-compatible, and which stranded a HUGE and loyal customer base, all of whom were holding the MAC PLUS). This would be the most effective means of punishing MS for their arrogance, errors in programming, and deception of the buying public!

    Bill Gates flatters himself when he says that he has been responsible for a modern technological revolution. Such modesty! That’s a bit like saying that if Henry Ford had not come along, we’d all still be buying hay for our transportation, instead of gasoline! SOMEBODY would have come along, and bought and repackaged DOS, SOMEBODY would have improved the design of a desktop PC, and SOMEBODY might have been less of a pirate, and this PC business might have developed without the influence of a monopoly!

    Bill Gates – YOU SUCK ! !

  48. Here are a couple questions regarding XP SP3:

    1- How can I create a XP SP3 CD (similar to the XP SP2 CD that Microsoft distributed)? This will allow me to install the update on several non-networked computers rather having to download the whole file to each one separately. NOTE: I know the full SP3 download is an ISO image but I don’t what software I will need to burn the image to CD so it is usable when I resintall XP PRO from scratch. I have my original distribution CD’s and the XP SP2 CD.

    2- Are there any step-by-step instructions available on-line for doing this?

    Again, this will be a complete reinstall from scratch. I am going to reformat the drive (it’s a new drive) and then install the whole kit and kaboodle providing I can figure out how to do it…

  49. Ok everyone….here’s a bit of advice.

    1. Turn off your automatic update. Select notify me but don’t automatically download or install.

    2. When you get a notification, instead of just downloading it and installing it read the details of the update. Decide if you need it and what it will do to your system if you install it. I have found many updates that don’t even apply to my enviroment.

    3. When service packs are released, wait at least 2 months to install them since there will inevitably be problems. Make sure there are no program compatibility issues. Let those out there quick to react, be the scape goats, screw up their systems and report the problems.

    4. Use common sense. Just because Microsoft says you need it doesn’t mean you do. I’ve had their security updates break network connections to the point where Microsoft techs have logged into both machines and couldn’t figure it out. Again, think before you leap!

  50. downloaded the SP3 then saw the letter about it.
    i thought, “Hit”, opps forgot the S.
    To my surprise i have had no trouble with it “SP3”.
    i have a Dell 4 years old with Winxp home.
    Was i lucky to have no trouble ?

  51. run Belarc Advisor and it tells you of ALL updates that MS has issued and which ones you have installed on your computer

    Webroot Spysweeper had to be the WORST program i have had the misfortune to spend money on……… i ended deleting it from my computer after an update from before

    to reinstall IE6, put your XP disc into the computer and add that ‘feature’, then check for updates

  52. Halfway through installing SP3, I remembered reading some very negative comments on some forums, at which point panicked and immediately cancelled the download. And then…nothing. I was able to reboot into Safe Mode and used my System Restore for the first time, successfully.

  53. I don’t know why, but I slavishly installed SP3. No problems, but my desktop icon for IE6 is now gone. According to Google hits, there is no easy way to get it back. That stinks!

  54. I am one that will try the updates as soon as they are released, and on occasion some of the betas. I installed SP 3 as soon as it was released (I have a Compaq Presario with an AMD Sempron) and I have had no problems with this update at all.

  55. I have a AMDx2 3500+ with a Asus motherbord and had no problems installing SP3, I have installed it on 3 other PC’s without any issues. I dont see what all this hype is about. Also if you did install SP3 and have crashed your system without backing up anything hhhmmmm tisk tisk on you. Everyone knows you have to backup your data files when using microsoft products. You should back up monthly if not weekly just incase of hardware failure.

    So I agree with Sam also if its not broke dont mess with it.

  56. I cannot for the life of me understand all of the fools who tell me (and everyone else)that there are no problems, that I am doing something incorrectly, or that the best way is to have kept up with regular updates. First of all I have had computers for as long as there has been Internet access available to the public. I have been through upgrades of Service Packs, Operating Systems, and Browsers and it is truly a hit and miss game. Well over half of the time the problem has nothing to do with anything any of you commenters have mentioned and has everything to do with unforeseen problems with drivers, or anti-virus software, being diligent upgraders has very little to do with anything.
    I have three different computers, three different brands, and not a single one will accept the SP3 ….(and no I do not have a wireless network)
    Microsoft has spent more hours on the phone with me than I have spent at work in the last week. Their FINAL solution for me? WAIT FOR A PATCH……
    So wipe that smugness off before you step in here, people do not need to come here and read unhelpful and rude comments about how great the SP3 worked for you or how the only place you hear about problems is in here. OF COURSE IT IS!! This is where people go when they have problems! SOME of You seem to only be here to antagonize people who are having problems!

    People who believe they are being ignored by Microsoft:
    I have it under fairly good authority they are absolutely swamped with request for help, the guy helping me yesterday said he has a good two weeks of e-mails to reply to and they keep stacking up. So keep trying or fill out a new request (sometimes having a “problem number” is not a good thing!)for help and include the symptoms again.

  57. I have installed SP3 on about 10 machines and have had zero problems. Two of them were even running Norton AV. I downloaded the 316 MB file and use it to upgrade all of them. BTW, I was also one of the Beta testers of SP3 and Vista, including SP1 of Vista.

  58. I for one after downloading SP3 and have had both of my computers seem to be OK but do appear to be slower now than before SP3 I will for sure be heading to a Mac before I consider purchasing another computer with ANY version of Windows. Makes me wonder if SP3 was an attempt to mess up Windows XP and make folks consider getting a Vista computer since practically no one is going the Vista route.

  59. How do I know for sure that sp3 has been downloaded to my pc. I’m kinda new at this and I’d like to know where the Windows updates are on my pc so i can see what they have installed. I did have it set to download but not install until I was ready. Should I go back and turn off the auto updates and just go to Micro website and check and choose which ones I want that way? Any recommendations? Thanks Barb

  60. No way am I going to install a service pack that makes me boot with a flash drive in the USB slot for my A8N32-SLI Deluxe motherboard. If it’s that flaky I don’t trust it not to fry my flash drive. When (and if) Microsloth gets it right, I’ll install the service pack.

  61. I have the same problem that Bill has – “Access Denied”, and Microsoft email support gave me a fix, but it did not work either. So now Microsoft ignores my email, even though I have a problem number. I have another laptop where SP3 installed without any problem. This is an example of Microsoft’s poor quality software.

  62. I have a Dell XPS400 SP3 wiped my computer out and I couldn’t reboot. I have to start over and install windows again. Lost a lot of stuff.

  63. I have automatic updates from microsoft and it updated to SP3 without me even knowing it.. I HAVE NOT had an ounce of trouble.. My other line of defense is Windows Live One Care… GREAT PRODUCT….

  64. Your color combinations on the cheat sheet are not good. Red letters on a dark gray background are almost unreadable. Please put a white background around the red letters or something else to make readable. The concept of the cheat sheet is fine. Thanks.

  65. Sony Vaio - XP Media Edition - P4

    That’s what I’m doing per Microsoft’s instructions. After four days of unsuccessful attempts by the Microsoft programmers to try and ‘fix’ my computer’s corrupted files subsequent to installing SP3, all they could do was to advise me to perform a complete system restore, not to install IE 7, and to wait until they have worked-out all of the ‘bugs’ with regard to SP3.

  66. Pablo. If you’ve installed and are having no problems then I would just leave it alone and hope you are one of the 75%.

  67. Oh, forgot to say, the reason for the /console, is to go to the area on my webserver where the console commands and console gui are, if I use the standard connect without the /console it connects to the server okay, but there aren’t any consoles active or open. I hadn’t noticed any other issues with SP3 at all until I had to connect to my online webserver and do some updates and to reset some games and website info on it, and when I did my console connect, that is where I found it not working right.


  68. I have installed SP3 many times on a previous install sp2 OS or a slipstreamed xp/sp3 disk. I havn’t had any problems on any of the 3 computers I have at home.
    1.AMD athlon 2800+ (added service pack 3)
    2.Intel P3 1.2 (Slipstreamed sp3 and addons)and ie8 beta
    3.Intel P2 200 pro (stripped and slipstreamed to 89 mbs for testing on this dinosour)

    I can only say that SP3 does offer alot of decent fixs to some well needed areas. Just like any bug or fix. if you wait for a fix on a fix. then might as well wait forever. Yes SP3 does have some bugs STILL! but overall I havn’t had any issues with installation, removal, add-on’s, RC releases and most of the current bugs either don’t phase me as a lack of caring for them or I simply don’t have a problem at all with the SP3 final release.

  69. I would like to be able to print out your cheat sheet but I cannot print it nor copy it from my pc using gmail. Is there a solution to this problem other than keeping the URL??

    Good article!

    Initially after I installed SP3 I had to try and reboot but after a couple of these episodes and one further small upgrade, SP3 has worked ok on my computer.

  70. There is also another problem with SP3, that I have found, because I use the Remote Desktop Connection for control of my online webserver, I will give an example:

    I enter: /console ( not my actual website or server)using Remote Desktop Connection v6, or use the commandline command with the /console subcommand, from the original Remote Desktop Connection, and no connection, it gives an error for connect, I have used this for a long time to connect to the server, and recently upgraded the Remote Desktop Connection to the version 6 for XP Pro. and now get to use the server name with the console subcommand to connect. I felt others should know this, I have been going to other sites on the issues of SP3 and let others know.



  71. I installed SP3 a while back on both the household PCs and my laptop. No problems at all although I think they are all slow to start up. That could just be me being impatient. I will be upgrading both PCs this weekend to try to counteract that.

  72. Follow all the instructions above. If you have all your current drivers installed, have downloaded all the updates before SP3 and disable disable your spyware/antivirus software you should have no problem. Anytime you make massive system changes you should have updated drivers and disabled system scanners anyways. I have 3 desktops at home and one laptop with XP professional on a virtual system. I have guinea pigged all the beta SP3 packs on one at home, and the only issue I’ve had was a video issue with one of the betas. the current SP appears solid if you follow precautions AND YOU WANT IT. Once again, if you don’t need it, wait it out until you’re comfortable installing it. It won’t hurt to wait if you’re uncomfortable with it right now.

  73. I just will never understand why people refuse to do the most simple thing: get an external hard drive and back-up everything at least every couple of weeks! Also make a bootable CD! These are basic tasks, when talking about ANY Windows product!!!

  74. “ACCESS DENIED” every time I have tried to download SP3, even after a fresh reload of XP.
    I would use Linux, but my wireless card isn’t supported very well.

  75. I have been using windows xp service pack 3 for months now with NO problems at all! I never get blue screens or crashes and my computer never freezes,very stable!

  76. i have three pc”s i found out that if you have updated your pc with all windows updates sp3 installs and seems to work well. anthony

  77. Jim macklin:

    You too need Firefox, it ROCKS. I tried earlier versions & had issues but Maximum PC Magazine said 3.0 is awesome & the were right!!!

  78. Woxnew:

    I had similar issues with my browser. I suggest you migrate to Firefox now that 3.0 is out. I did & it works great!!! IE has become too bloated.

  79. As with any service pack I hold off on installing them until I see a very good reason to do so. For example sp2 I waited almost a year before installing simply because none of my software or computers “Required” it. Not until one of my programs updates needed sp2 did I finally do a full backup and install sp2.

    If its not broke don’t mess with it. As far as I can see sp3 offers to real advantages so far.


  80. Running Intel D845GBVL mobo and P4 2.8 with 2 GB ram.
    Also using ZA and AVAST av.

    Since installing SP3, IE will often crash when closing or moving tab to tab. Otherwise system seems stable. But when IE 7 crashes, I have to use CTRL/ALT/DEL and I see two instances of IE even when I only had one open.

    Any suggestions or other similar reports.

  81. Better yet do what I do, IGNOR IT! I just click on the x to shut down the update notice when it says Update ready for download!

    My Confuser runs just fine with out SP3.

    Thank you and good night Gracey.

  82. I agree with Sam, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…”

    And here, we KNOW that the “fix” has screwed up
    gazillions of PC’s. Why volunteer to be the guinea pig for yet another MS experiment ??
    Unless, of course, a person is psychologically addicted to having the very latest “thing”, no
    matter what it takes…

    Gotta have it, gotta have it, gotta have it…
    Then there’s a Big Problem, and it’s not with the computer hardware or software. Shut down the @#$%^&* computer for an hour, turn off the lights, the phone and the radio, whatever.
    Sit there for an hour, quietly, and THINK about
    what you’re doing.

    I double-dog-dare you to even try. Or do you feel the panic that addicts feel when they’re not sure they can get their next “fix.”

  83. The ‘flash drive trick’ with the ASUS A8N32-SLI Motherboard does not always work. Install Vista instead, the board runs much better than with XP.

  84. Thank you for the advise on waiting. Most people will install this just because it’s the thing to do to stay up to date. My comp running XP Pro is less than a year old and running just fine. So leave things alone. Thanks again.

  85. The only problem SP3 caused me on one of the two machines I installed it on was that it seemed to de-activate my machine.
    First the warnings that gave me 14 days to back up my data, windows would stop working in two weeks. Didn’t take it seriously until the last day, then I uninstalled SP3 and the trouble went away. At least I WAS able to uninstall, not every update is removable.

  86. SP3 would not install at first, after I removed my cutom boot screen it installed ok. No problems at all otherwise.

  87. Have just completed 6th computer update with SP3. Five had Norton AV installed, one had AVG installed, all are pentiums. Only problem encountered was had to re-install a wireless driver. Have not seen any great reasons to complete the update but have had no dire consequences either. No slowdowns, no real problems.

    You should always DL the lastest drivers before any major update anyway, and then burn them to disk for the “just in case” possibility.

    If I had an AMD processor I would be more concerned.

  88. I had to uninstall booth Webroot Spysweeper and PCTools SpywareDoctor before SP3 would install. Now I’m stuck with no tabs in Tools–Folder Options. It only opens on Registered File Types, and does not show up in Control Panel…

  89. Currently 109 installs and ZERO problems. This controversy thing is a bit blown out of proportion. Th eonly way I would even know there is a problem is by pcpitstops complaints.

  90. I have SP3 installed on my computer as well as my nephews. Both of us have no problems with it. but I do have friends that have had some issues with it. It seems to be a hit or miss with some of them that have more then 1 computer. I have heard they have had some install issues, or even BSOD on a constant basis.

  91. You advised well in step 6 to get rid of N/S. It’s easier said than done, but well worth the effort.

  92. I updated all programs, drivers etc. regulary since I dont know when. And I never had a problem with or after installing a MS update.

    So I wonder why you guys are so anti MS. In my view is the best way to stay out of trouble; Update regulary and keep maintained

    By the way, I buy a new computer every 3 or 4 years.

  93. I am one of the 75% who have not had any problems with SP 3.

    The documented problems with HP and Norton, does not bode well for their respective beta testers. After all, how many months was SP 3 in Beta before release and all of a sudden these problems appear? Don’t you think some of the blame should be shouldered by Norton and HP?

  94. We have SP3 on all our machines and we have had no problems. We just created all new images and everything works great. But We all know MS does not get it right 50% of the time. That is why our new lab will be MACs.

  95. All that is too late after you got SP 3 installed and nothing works right on your machine.. OR.. even hangs-or- doesn’t-boot..

    I knock-on-wood everyday sense I allowed it to download-and-install.. My machines have worked O.K. as much as I know.. The only thing so far is, my browser appears to load slowly.. BUT.. I can live with that..

  96. My SP3 will not install. Have downloaded it, and tried to install it about 15 times. When installation starts it gets to about 2 and a half hours time online, then gives an error message that installation has failed. Access Denied. Thats all I get. I have just given up and just do all the other updates that come in. Not going to waste my time on doing something to my computer that I haven’t had to use . SP2 works just fine. Its just annoying to have to see SP3 Update needed in Microsoft Updates. I am thinking seriously about Apple computers next. Mac or Linux have to be better than Windows. Bill Gates, after all these years, can’t you and your billions, figure out a way to fix this awful mess. No, I didn’t think so.

  97. Fun_in_Chicago

    #3 HP/AMD based you state “You must install this update….”

    You only need to install this under certain circumstances detailed in Microsoft KB888372

    You may not know how your PC was prepared (sysprep or not) so it would probably be best to apply the update – it just disables the Intel processor driver (Intelppm.sys)

  98. I have told people in the past and I’ll say it again. DO NOT INSTALL ANY SP UNLESS IT IS A FRESH INSTALL OF WINDOWS. I have noticed that even with SP 1 that no matter what the computer hardware inside of it, once I install a SP the system becomes unstable. With SP 2 I had the problem of all emails coming into Outlook where received blank. With SP 1 it was Blue Screen. Once I do a fresh load of Windows and load all updates and SP’s prior to any other program then everything works fine. I currently have 4 computers, 2 desktops and 2 laptops that are running fine with SP 3. I have a 5th computer that I just setup for a friend that is also running with SP 3 and no problems to date on any of them. The only computer that I had a problem with was a computer that I use as a test bench for any updates to any software, drivers, or patches. If you don’t want to reload your system then DON’T install SP 3.

  99. Wait! Microsoft is notorious for “pre-releasing”. I still own an unopened copy of MS Dos 4.0. I did install SP3 on my Dell M90 Precision Notebook and had troubles for a day or two. Things seem to have settled down but if I could do it all over again, I’d wait until they “fix” what needs fixin’.

  100. NO!! Why do you need it? Just be patient and monitor results until Microsoft gets it right. Haven’t you learned from the other computer? Sit back and watch the improvements get perfected – ha ha – or at least until no one has a major and common complaint – that could take a month or who knows how long but it will either be fixed or retired. Unless it gets to the point that you HAVE to have it to make Windows work wait until they get it right. . .
    said Sam~

  101. I have just bought an Acer Veriton T661 computer O.S. Windows XP Professional, Intel Core 2 Duo processor, I am in two minds about installing service pack 3. Part of me wants to keep my system up to date the other doesn’t want to cause undue problems (I put SP3 on my last computer and I’m not saying it killed it but it ceased to function properly – kept freezing on start up and was taking longer and longer to load up properly, was told it was motherboard breaking didn’t want to have it fixed because it was an old computer,so opted for new computer. The old computer had an AMD processor though so that could have been the problem I don’t know.However I don’t want this computer to have problems. Should I install SP3 or not?

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