Appendix H. Service Packs

Nothing’s perfect—especially Microsoft’s security record. With years passing between major Windows releases, the only way to deal with new security problems and accommodate new technology that comes along, is to regularly run Windows Update. Or better yet, get everything packaged in Microsoft’s Service Packs, which seem to be issued roughly every two years. Service Packs gather up all the important bug fixes that you may have missed, add additional security tools and features, and tie up any loose ends. You don’t typically get many new toys to play with, but there can be a few nice surprises lying in wait, from better wireless networking support to an easier to configure firewall—two notable improvements included in Service Pack 2 (SP2).

No matter how often you run Windows Update, it’s important to install Service Packs when they become available—they’ll add still more fixes and tools. Just remember that anything that mucks with the inner workings of your operating system should be approached with care. Nine times out of ten, installing a Service Pack is safe and easy—but you don’t want to be that unlucky tenth person. We’ll show you what traps to avoid in the process and what precautions to take.

In this appendix, we’ll look at both of the Service Packs released at the time of this writing—Service Pack 1 (which by this point you probably have, since it was preloaded on many PCs sold after Fall 2002) and the more recent Service Pack 2. While there’s no way ...

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