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Last Updated December 16, 2003

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Service Packs








Installing and Managing Service Packs

Where to Start

Best Practices for Successfully Deploying Microsoft Service Packs
Service Packs are a compilation of bug fixes and updates to the code base of Microsoft's operating systems (Windows NT/2000/XP) or applications (Office, Exchange, SQL). They are suppose to improve stability and enhance security, but Microsoft's service packs have a history of creating instabilities other serious problems of their own. Before you jump right in and deploy the next service pack in your environment, take a minute to review our best practices for testing and deploying Microsoft Service Packs. 

Surviving a Service Pack
Tips and best practices for performing a service pack installation.

Best Practices for Applying Service Packs, Hotfixes and Security Patches
This paper recommends a series of best practices for deploying Microsoft service packs, hotfixes and security patches. The information contained in this document has been derived from Microsoft Technical Account Managers, Microsoft Product Support Services (PSS) engineers, and well-known Microsoft subscription products like Microsoft TechNet and Microsoft Developer's Network (MSDN). Source:

Checking Service Pack and DLL Versions
Learn how you can check your system to find out which service pack, which dll, and which version of Internet Explorer you're running. Source: Windows & .NET Magazine (Sept 1999)

How to Use the SPCheck Tool in Windows XP 
Microsoft Knowledge Base Article: 312646 - This article describes how to use the SPCheck.exe tool in Windows XP to determine the service pack level of installed components on a file-by-file basis. SPCheck.exe is included with the Windows XP Support Tools package. 

How to Use the SPCheck Tool to Determine the Service Pack Level of Components
Microsoft Knowledge Base Article: 279631 - This article describes how to use the SPCheck tool to determine the service pack level of installed components on a file-by-file basis.

Microsoft Guide to Security Patch Management
This guide provides concise information, prescriptive techniques, tools, and templates to help organizations cost-effectively maintain a secure and reliable Microsoft environment through the proactive assessment of vulnerabilities and the application of security patches and appropriate countermeasures. This guide is divided into two parts: the first providing essential security patch management information that is valuable to everyone and the second providing detailed process descriptions and techniques. Source: Microsoft Technet

Required Service Packs before upgrading to Windows 2000
Current Microsoft server applications and server suites—and even legacy applications—are fully supported on Microsoft Windows® 2000 Server. However, some product versions require service packs for full support. Check this table before upgrading your NT 4 Servers if they have SQL. SMS, Exchange, Proxy, SNA, Site Server, SBS, or the BackOffice Server Suite installed.

Roll-up Patching
What's the difference between a hotfix, security update patch, cumulative patch and security roll-up patch?  Source: Information Security Magazine

Why Service packs are better than patches...
When most people think about keeping their systems secure, they think about security patches rather than service packs. In fact, one of the most frequent mistakes people make when performing security maintenance is to over-rely on patches and under-rely on service packs. You may be surprised to know that there are significant differences between the two, and that service packs, rather than patches, should be used for the heavy lifting. In this article, we'll discuss the differences between patches and service packs, and the most effective strategy for using them. Source: (Nov. 2000)

Installing and Removing Service Packs

Ahead of the Service Pack
Two service pack management programs help you organize service packs and hotfixes on your systems. Source: Windows & .NET Magazine (Nov 2000)

Before Installing a Windows NT Service Pack
Microsoft Knowledge Base Article: 165418 - This article describes the steps that should be performed before installing a Windows NT Service Pack, maintenance required after installing a Service Pack, and also discusses Service Pack 2 for Windows NT 4.0 specifically.

Considerations Before You Uninstall Windows 2000 Service Pack 1
Microsoft Knowledge Base Article: 268989 - You can use the uninstallation feature in Windows 2000 Service Pack 1 (SP1) to restore your computer to its previous state. When you run the Update.exe program to install Windows 2000 SP1, a subfolder that is named $ntservicepackuninstall$ is created in your %systemroot% folder. 

HOW TO: Apply Microsoft Hotfixes to a Windows 2000 Server Running IIS 
Microsoft Knowledge Base Article: 311135 - This article describes how to identify and apply Microsoft updates and hotfixes after you install Windows 2000 Server and IIS on your computer. You can use some Microsoft tools to help you check your system for missing patches and then install 

How to Install Service Packs in a Cluster
TechNet article Q174799 - The original Microsoft Cluster Server (MSCS) product ships with NT 4.0 Server Enterprise Edition and Service Pack 3 on the first CD-ROM, however you may want to apply later service packs as they are released for fixes or improvements.

How to Obtain the Windows Installer Package (Update.msi) for Windows 2000 Service Packs Microsoft Knowledge Base Article: 269732 - This article discusses how to obtain the Windows Installer package file (Update.msi) for Windows 2000 service packs.

How to Use the SPCheck Tool in Windows XP 
Microsoft Knowledge Base Article: 312646 - This article describes how to use the SPCheck.exe tool in Windows XP to determine the service pack level of installed components on a file-by-file basis. SPCheck.exe is included with the Windows XP Support Tools package.

How to Remove the Service Pack Restore Files and Folders in Windows
Microsoft Knowledge Base Article: 290402 - This article provides instructions and discusses the precautions for safely deleting the Service Pack Uninstall folder ($NtServicePackUninstall$). It also provides guidance for relocating the ServicePackFiles folder without losing functionality.

File Version Information May Be Incorrect in Windows 2000 Multilanguage Version
Microsoft Knowledge Base Article: 263212 - After you apply a hotfix or service pack to Windows 2000 Multilanguage version, the file version that is displayed in Windows Explorer (when you right-click a file in Windows Explorer and then click Properties) may be incorrect. 

Not Necessary to Reinstall Windows 2000 Service Packs After System State Changes 
Microsoft Knowledge Base Article: 274215 - After you change the system state by adding or changing additional Windows 2000 components, you do not need to reapply Windows 2000 service packs.

Service Pack Management
Get a handle on service pack and hotfix complexity with Service Pack Management. Source: Windows & .NET Magazine (Sept 1999)

Troubleshooting Service Pack Upgrades
Discover how service pack upgrades work, why hidden desktop applications don't always stay hidden, and problems with using port 443 for automatic updates. Source: Windows & .NET Magazine 

Err Msg: Service Pack Setup Could Not Find the Setup.log File in Your Repair Directory 
Microsoft Knowledge Base Article: 175960 - When you install a Microsoft Windows NT Service Pack, you may receive any of the following error messages: 

Service Pack Installation May Not Work on Computers with Small System Partition 
Microsoft Knowledge Base Article The installation of a Windows 2000 service pack may not succeed on a computer with a small system partition. 

Windows Update Site Incorrectly Identifies Windows 2000 Retail as Beta
Microsoft Knowledge Base Article: 256962 - When you attempt to use the Microsoft Windows Update Web site from a retail copy of Windows 2000, you may receive the following message: You appear to be running a beta version of Windows 2000. In order to use Windows Update you need to upgrade your system to the released version of Windows 2000.


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