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Beyond Service Pack 1

Tim from Florida writes:

How do you repair Windows when the CD that ships with the computer has SP1 and you have updated the system beyond that which is on the CD?

Hi, Tim.  Excellent question.

As usual, my first recommendation is to back up your files.  You probably won’t have to use your file backup, but it’s good to have it on hand – just in case something bad happens.  Same goes for your Windows product key, so locate that.  If you bought your machine ready made, then it’s probably on a sticker on either the side or bottom of your machine.  If you built your machine yourself, then hopefully you put one of the stickers that was included with your version of Windows somewhere on your machine or somewhere safe and accessible.

In order to access the repair installation, insert your XP CD into your drive and reboot your computer.  An option will come up giving you about twenty to thirty seconds to press any key to boot from the Windows CD.  Press any key.  If your computer, like mine, doesn’t have an “any” key, then just hit the space bar, it will work just as well.  This will launch your Windows setup screens.  Follow the instructions until you see the following screen:

You will notice that one of these options is to “repair” an installation.  You don’t want the repair console, however, so you’ll press enter to setup Windows.  Zip past the EULA… er… I mean “Carefully read every read of the EULA before continuing”.  That will bring you to the REAL screen to start your repair, which looks like this.

NOW you hit “R” to initiate the repair installation.

I won’t bore you with the rest of the instructions.  If you can follow onscreen prompts, then you can do the rest of this install.

Now we come to the heart of your question.  If your install disk contained NO service pack, then you will need to download and install ALL Windows updates.  If it included SP1, then you only have to download and install updates for days instead of weeks.  SP2, you’ll need to install them for hours instead of days… you get the idea.

After your installation is complete, I would suggest turning on your firewall and connecting to the internet.  Next, if you didn’t turn automatic updating on during your setup procedure, do so now and let Windows do its thing.  Once this is all said and done, you MAY have all of your service packs installed.  This WILL take some time.  If, for some reason, Windows doesn’t completely update to the latest service pack, then follow the next step.

You didn’t say which version of Windows that you’re running, but up until now I’ve been assuming XP.  I am not, however, going to include hyperlinks to the service pack downloads for XP because I don’t know for sure that that’s the one that you have.  Instead, I’m going to include a hyperlink for Windows help, http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/help [1], and suggest that you enter your operating system and service pack into the search window.

Hope that this helps!

~Randal Schaffer