BOOT CAMP ARCHIVE 2008

  

 

BOOT CAMP 518 (01/04/08)

Vista Service Pack 1, part 2

 

Vista Service Pack 1 is coming to a PC near you; if you have bought a PC in the last few weeks you may have it already, otherwise it will be delivered to your computer over the next few weeks as an ‘important’ automatic update.

 

On the evidence so far SP1 deployment should go reasonably smoothly for most users. However, if like me you remember the trouble caused by Windows XP Service Pack 2 then you might want to wait for a week or two, and see if there’s any fallout after several million users have put it through the mill (see also this week’s Top Tip). To do that go to Search on the Start menu and start typing the word ‘update’ and within a couple of keystrokes Windows Update appears on the list. Click on it and the Update Centre opens. In the left hand pane select click Change Settings and so that you will know when SP1 has arrived, select either ‘Download updates but let me choose whether to install them’ or ‘Check for updates but let me choose whether to download…’, then click OK.

 

If there are any major glitches with SP1 you will hear about it quite quickly in the media, and you can keep up with what’s happening by Googling  ‘vista sp1 problems’. If there are no significant issues relevant to your setup you can switch Windows Updates back to automatic and go ahead with the installation.

 

You don’t have to rely on automatic updates to get SP1. If you want to take charge of the process you can download a copy from Microsoft and install it directly or burn to a CD, if you need to update a number of PCs. If you can’t download SP1, either because you are not connected or have a dial-up connection, then you can get Microsoft to send you a copy of SP1 on CD, though at the time of writing there were no details of when it will be available, though it should be free.

 

If you have chosen to install SP1 manually make certain that all of your backups are up to date, and it won’t hurt to set a new System Restore Point. SP1 should set one but if you do it yourself beforehand this will confirm that System Restore is actually working. Incidentally, if you participated in the Beta or RC1 tests of SP1 these must be removed before you proceed. The last pre-install job is to defrag your drive. It could help speed things up, especially if you haven’t done it for a while.

 

On most systems the whole process should take between and forty and ninety minutes, depending on the PC’s specification, and whether or not your PC has been receiving automatic updates. Once the install Wizard has started there is no need to stand over it and you don’t have to do anything other than to make sure that ‘Automatically restart the computer’ is checked. From the start you will see a message that tells you not to turn off the computer whilst SP1 is being installed. Take heed of this warning, as there have been reports of serious crashes that render Windows unbootable if the installation is interrupted. This is even more important for laptop users who should ensure their machines are running from the mains adaptor. If your mains supply is unreliable then I seriously suggest that you don’t install SP1 unless your PC is connected to a UPS.

 

After installation your PC may seems a little slower. This is quite normal and due to SP1 deleting prefetch data. These are files and shortcuts that Windows uses to speed up program launches, however, the slowdown is only temporary and a new prefetch cache is automatically rebuilt within a few days.

 

If the installation appears to have failed give it at least two hours, three if you can spare it, before calling time. If the PC has frozen the only thing you can do is switch off and reboot. In most cases SP1 will resume where it left off but if it fails a second time don’t try it again and if any error messages appear see if there’s any help on Google. If it has gone horribly wrong and your PC will not boot then you may be able to get it back up and working without too much trouble.

 

If your PC came with a Vista installation disc you can boot the PC from the disc and carry out a Repair Install – this option appears on the first menu. This will reinstall Windows and your data, programs and configuration settings should all be safe. If you have a manufacturer’s Recovery Disc they you might have a problems. You can use it to reinstall Windows from a protected partition but you may end up loosing your programs and data, which underpins the importance of keeping your backups up to date.

 

Finally, if you have installed SP1 and it is causing problems, or you simply want rid of it then it can be uninstalled, though some components will remain. Go to Programs and Features in Control Panel. Click ‘View Installed Updates’ in the left hand Tasks pane, select SP1 from the list and click Uninstall.

 

Next Week – Internet TV and the BBC iPlayer

 

JARGON FILTER

 

PROTECTED PARTITION

Section of a hard disc drive set aside for Windows installation files

 

RC1

Release Candidate 1, the theoretically final version of a program or update, ready for distribution though in practice final tweaks are still possible

 

UPS

Uninterruptible Power Supply -- battery power unit, designed to keep your PC working during a power cut, to prevent data loss and to enable it to be safely shut down

 

 

TOP TIP

SP1 is by no means compulsory and there are plenty of individuals and companies that for various reasons do not want to install it straight away, or at all, but still want to receive regular security updates and patches. Microsoft has foreseen this eventuality and developed a utility called the Windows Service Pack Blocker Tool, which stops SP1 from installing for up to 12 months. This doesn’t affect other critical updates, which will continue to be downloaded and installed automatically. 

 

Don't forget, there's a full archive of previous Boot Camp Top Tips at www.pctoptips.co.uk

 

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© R. Maybury 2008, 1203

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