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Windows XP Fault Tolerance and Troubleshooting. 70-270: MCSE Guide to Microsoft Windows XP Professional. Microsoft IntelliMirror (Page 1). Set of Windows XP features that ensures the availability of: User’s data via synchronization Recovery of personalized settings

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Windows XP Fault Tolerance and Troubleshooting

70-270: MCSE Guide to Microsoft Windows XP Professional

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Microsoft IntelliMirror (Page 1)

  • Set of Windows XP features that ensures the availability of:

    • User’s data via synchronization

    • Recovery of personalized settings

    • Software and application installation and repair

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Microsoft IntelliMirror (Page 2)

  • User data management:

    • Using folder redirection, a folder on a user's local machine (i.e. My Documents) can be synchronized with a folder on a network

    • Local or network versions of modified files are updated on the other location automatically

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  • Synchronizing Files


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Microsoft IntelliMirror (Page 3)

  • User settings management

    • Equivalent of a roaming profile

    • Since a user in a domain network can logon to their personal settings from any machine …

    • If a computer is unavailable or crashes, the user configurations can be transferred to another machine …

      • Or even could be used as an alternative to retaining personal settings when upgrading to a new machine

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Microsoft IntelliMirror (Page 4)

  • Software installation and maintenance

    • If users inadvertently remove applications or system files, or if their systems crash …

    • Windows Installer Service (WIS) can be used to rebuild software (applications, updates and even O/S upgrades)

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  • Download Adobe Acrobat Reader from:


  • Install program Adobe Reader and Google Toolbar

  • Run Control Panel

  • Select "Add or Remove Programs" applet

  • Select <Change/Remove> for "Google Toolbar"

  • Click <Yes> button to confirm (if necessary)

  • Follow prompts

  • Close dialog windows

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Microsoft Backup Utility (Page 1)

  • The only Windows XP utility for making backups using media:

    • Tape drives

    • External hard disks (i.e., network drives)

    • Zip or Jaz drives

    • Recordable CD-ROM drives

    • Logical (partitioned or mapped) drives

    • (Microsoft IntelliMirror technologies are used only to synchronize to a network folder)

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Microsoft Backup Utility (Page 2)

  • To launch the utility select Start menu  Programs  Accessories  System Tools  Backup

  • The two methods to back up data are the Backup Wizard (default option when Backup is executed) and manual backup:

    • Click the Advanced Mode hyperlink and the Backup tab to set backup options manually

    • Or click Wizard Mode hyperlink on Welcome tab in Advanced mode to return to the wizard

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Microsoft Backup Utility (Page 3)

  • In Advanced Mode, the Backup utilitymain functions are:

    • Back up programs and files

    • Restore programs and files

    • Create an ASR data set (Automated System Recovery)

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Microsoft Backup Utility (Page 4)

  • Options include backing up:

    • Everything on computer

    • Just specific files and folders

    • System State data including system’s boot files, COM settings, and Registry data

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  • Backup "My Documents" to "F:\"

  • Delete a file from "My Documents"

  • Restore files from the backup

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Microsoft Backup Utility (Page 5)

  • Select Backup Type tab in the Tools Options… dialog:

    • Copy backup—backs up all files but does not set off archive bit (not marked as updated)

    • Normal (or full) backup—backs up all files and sets off archive bit (marked as updated)

    • Daily backup—backs up only files that have been created or modified the day of the backup (archive bit not set off)

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Microsoft Backup Utility (Page 6)

  • Backup Type (con.):

    • Differential backup—backs up only files that have been created or modified since last full or incremental backup (archive bit not set off)

    • Incremental backup–backs up only files that have been created or modified since last full or incremental backup (archive bit is set off)

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Microsoft Backup Utility (Page 7)

  • Most backup schemes combine the use of:

    • Weekly full backups …

    • And daily backups of either type incremental or differential

  • Incremental daily backups:

    • Makes daily backup operation run quicker

    • Requires a longer restore period—restore from last full backup; then perform restores of each incremental backup in order created

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Microsoft Backup Utility (Page 8)

  • Differential backups:

    • Causes a longer and longer backup period each day (because archive bit is left on)

    • Requires increased storage space on backup media each day

    • Restore time is greatly reduced in comparison with incremental—restore from last full backup; then perform restores of last differential backup

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Microsoft Backup Utility (Page 9)

  • Automated System Recovery (ASR)

    • Restores essential system files in event of severe system failure

    • Does not protect personal data or application configuration settings

    • Creates a backup of only those files essential to the boot process

    • Media set consists of both:

      • Backup floppy

      • One or more backup tapes or other media

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  • Set up a scheduled backup:

    • Backup files and settings

    • My documents and settings

    • To drive C:\

    • Advanced button:

      • Incremental

      • Replace the existing backup

      • Later: Daily (in five minutes)

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Preventive Maintenance

  • Several mechanisms to reduce user problems:

    • Device Driver Rollback (from Chapter 3)

      • Reinitializes previous driver (was saved by XP)

    • Windows File Protection

    • Automatic Updates and Windows Update (from Chapter 3)

    • Desktop Cleanup Wizard

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Windows File Protection (Page 1)

  • Ensures that the correct and uncorrupted version of certain operating system core files is retained on system

  • Files include .sys, .dll, .exe and .ocx files, as well as True Type font files

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Windows File Protection (Page 2)

  • Protects list of sacred files from changes due to application installation, infection from a virus, or human error

  • Works in the background invisibly to users (in most cases)

    • Sometimes system may prompt user for reboot

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Windows File Protection (Page 3)

  • If write operation occurs for one of these files, the resulting file is compared to a database of known files …

    • The replacement files may be stored in WINDOWS\system32\dllcache, the original Windows XP installation disks or a copy, or a network share

  • If there is a mismatch, the altered file is replaced automatically

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Windows File Protection (Page 4)

  • System File Checker (SFC) tool:

    • The system software tool that performs the inspection and replacement of monitored files

    • Usually executed automatically

    • The "SFC" command also can be executed manually from the command prompt

    • The command also can be used to purge and rebuild the DLLCACHE folder

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Desktop Cleanup Wizard

  • Asks permission to remove unused icons from desktop

  • Launches automatically every 60 days

  • Can be disabled:

    • Select the Display applet from "Control Panel"

    • Click the <Customize Desktop> button on the Desktop tab

    • On the General tab turn off the "Run Desktop Cleanup Wizard every 60 days" checkbox

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Repairing Windows XP Professional

  • Options for repairing or restoring computer:

    • Safe Mode (from Chapter 13)

    • System Restore

    • Emergency repair process

    • Recovery Console

    • Remote OS installation

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System Restore (Page 1)

  • Can be used to return O/S to previously saved state …

    • Reverse system configuration settings

    • Reverse Registry changes

    • Undo the changes made by installed software

    • Does not affect personal files or e-mail

  • Only can be used if system boots

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System Restore (Page 2)

  • Automatically creates restoration points during critical system changes

  • User also can initiate the creation of a restoration point manually

  • To run System Restore:

    • Start  Programs Accessories System Tools System Restore

  • Controlled and managed through:

    • System Restore tab of System applet

    • Setting on/off and amount of memory used

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Emergency Repair Process (Page 1)

  • For problems caused by:

    • Corrupt or missing system files

    • Startup environment

    • Partition boot sector

  • Boot from Windows XP Professional Setup CD (or floppy disk)

    • Press "R" when prompted to select to Repair Windows XP (do not select reinstall), and "R" again to start emergency repair process

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Emergency Repair Process (Page 2)

  • Select from one of two options:

    • Fast repair—automatically attempts to repair problems to Registry, system files, boot volume, and startup environment without user interaction

    • Manual repair—lets user decide to repair the Registry, system files, boot volume, or startup environment

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Emergency Repair Process (Page 3)

  • Reboots automatically if emergency repair process is successful

  • If unsuccessful it might be necessary to reinstall Windows XP

    • Probably also means reinstalling applications and updates

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Recovery Console (Page 1)

  • For system administrators and expert users, offers more precise control over troubleshooting and repair process

    • Password for Administrator account must be entered to logon to Recovery Console

  • Must be installed from "i386" folder of Windows XP installation disk

    • Use the command prompt

    • Type "winnt32 /cmdcons" to install

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Recovery Console (Page 2)

  • Recovery Console also may be run from the installation CD-ROM …

    • Press <F8> when prompted and select Recovery Console from alternate boot menu

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Recovery Console (Page 3)

  • Select "Microsoft Windows Recovery Console" from list of available operating systems when booting

  • Type "help" at command prompt for list of available Recovery Console commands

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Recovery Console (Page 4)

  • Commands:

    • bootcfg—boot file configuration and recovery

    • chkdsk—checks and reports on status of every sector on disk

    • disable—to disable a service or driver

    • enable—to enable or start a service or driver

    • exit—exit Recovery Console and reboot

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Recovery Console (Page 5)

  • Commands (con.):

    • fixboot—writes a new partition boot sector onto system partition

    • fixmbr—repairs the Master Boot Record

    • systemroot—sets current folder to system root

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Recovery Console (Page 6)

  • Recovery Console often is a better way than the Emergency Restore Process to restore damaged Registry …

    • Registry files in %systemroot%\Repair come from installation of Windows XP Professional

    • Any changes made after initial installation are lost when using ERP

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Recovery Console (Page 7)

  • To remove Recovery Console:

    • In "My Computer" be certain that on View tab of Tools menu → Folder Options:

      • "Show hidden files and folders" is on

      • "Hide protected operating system files" is off

    • In the root directory, delete the \cmdcons folder and the cmldr file

    • From the "boot.ini" file delete the command C:\CMDCONS\BOOTSECT.DAT="Microsoft Windows Recovery Console" /cmdcons

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General Principles of Troubleshooting

  • Take action to resolve issues at hand as quickly as possible

  • Troubleshooting

    • Art and science

    • Systematically diagnosing and eliminating problems in computer system

    • Usually fairly tedious process

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Computer Information File

  • Computer information file (CIF) stores detailed information about hardware and software products that make up computer

  • Not just a single file but an ever-expanding accumulation of manually created data sheets sorted into related groupings

  • Should be stored in protected area and accessible in event of an emergency

  • Constructing CIF from scratch is a lengthy process

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System Information Tool

  • Provides a list of:

    • Installed hardware and software

    • Details of loaded drivers, and whether or not they are signed

    • IRQ's that are assigned

    • Etc.

  • The starting point for creating a CIF

  • From Start menu  Programs Accessories System Tools System Information

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  • View the System Information dialog

  • From Start menu  Programs Accessories System Tools System Information

  • Expand and review Hardware Resources, Components, Software Environment and Internet Settings

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Troubleshooting Tools

  • Troubleshooting tools that are available in Windows XP Professional include:

    • Event Viewer

    • Computer Management

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Event Viewer (Page 1)

  • Used to view system messages regarding success and failure of key occurrences

  • Information includes:

    • System drivers or service failures

    • Security problems

    • Misbehaving applications

  • Accessed from Administrative Tools in the "Control Panel"

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Event Viewer (Page 2)

  • The logs are:

    • System log—internal processes including hardware and operating system errors, warnings and general information

    • Security log—audit events for failed logons, user right alterations, attempted object accesses with sufficient permissions

    • Application log—application (software) events and alerts

    • There may be also Directory service, DNS Service, and File Replication Service logs

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Event Viewer (Page 3)

  • All logs collect the same meta-information about each event:

    • Date, Time, Source, Category, Event, User ID and Computer

  • Logged events include additional detail about each error (select Properties):

    • Error code number

    • Detailed description with memory HEX buffer capture (dump)

    • A link to Microsoft "Help and Support Center"

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  • Create an MMC console for Event Viewer

  • Run console and select the System log

  • Select an event in right pane

  • Select Action Properties (or just Properties from shortcut menu)

  • Review the information

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Computer Management Tool

  • Large number of tools that are collected into a single interface

  • Grouping them together makes locating and resolving problems easier

  • Accessed from Administrative Tools in the "Control Panel"

  • The console is divided into three sections:

    • System Tools

    • Storage

    • Services and Applications

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System Tools (Page 1)

  • Event Viewer—same information as applet in Administrative Tools

  • Shared Folders—views hidden and public shares, current sessions and open files; viewing and setting share settings for user limits, caching and permissions

  • Local Users and Groups—enhanced tool to manage users and groups (disabled if Active Directory is present)

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System Tools (Page 2)

  • Performance Logs and Alerts—the rather tedious and complex Windows XP "Performance Monitor" tool (Chapter 11)

  • Device Manager—same tool as found on Hardware tab of the System applet in the "Control Panel"

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  • Removable Storage—manages floppy disks, tapes, ZIP drives, flash drives, etc.

  • Disk Defragmenter—reassembles fragmented files and aggregates unused space

  • Disk Management—views and alters partition and volume configuration of hard drives

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Services and Applications

  • Services—stop and starts services, and sets whether they initiate at startup

  • WMI Control—controls and configures Windows Management Instrumentation service

  • Indexing Service—related to the indexing of documents to improve searching

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  • Check to see if "Workstation" and "Server" services are running

  • Launch Computer Management (from applet Administrative Tools in "Control Panel") and drill down to Services and Applications  Services

  • Right-click service for Properties

  • Click hyperlink to Start, Stop, Pause or Restart a service

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Troubleshooting Wizards

  • Many troubleshooting Wizards are associated with specific system components or services

  • Click the <Troubleshoot…> button to start the process (or for some applets the button may be labeled <Repair…>

  • Answer each question until a solution is determined (the focus is on accomplishing tasks, not just informational)

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Troubleshooting Installation Problems (Page 1)

  • Windows XP Professional installation is susceptible to several types of errors:

    • Media errors—physical problem with CD-ROM or the copy of distribution file on the network, or problem with the network link; replace media and restart the installation

    • Domain controller communication difficulties—if attempting to join a domain; could be mistyped user name, password, or domain name; check spelling and check connection to the network

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Troubleshooting Installation Problems (Page 2)

  • Installation errors (con.):

    • Stop message errors or halting on the blue screen—most common reason is damaged or incompatible drivers; verify that the driver is correct and compatible with Windows XP

    • Hardware problems—make sure the device is on the HAL or it may need to be replaced; sometimes manual resolution of Plug and Play conflicts are possible

    • Dependency failures—a service or driver does not run at startup; check the Event Viewer

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Troubleshooting Printer Problems (Page 1)

  • Printing problems occur anywhere

  • Systematic elimination of possible failure points should include:

    • Physical components—cable, power, paper and toner, etc.

    • Printer must be online—check light or LCD message; may be necessary to press Reset or Online button

    • Printer server—it must be booted and running

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Troubleshooting Printer Problems (Page 2)

  • Possible failure points (con.):

    • Print queue—check for stalled jobs (the print job should show a specific status—if not it may be stalled)

    • Printer driver—reinstall or update

    • Attempt to print from different application or different client

    • Attempt to print using Administrator access

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Troubleshooting Printer Problems (Page 3)

  • Possible failure points (con.):

    • Print spooler—attempt to stop and restart; check "Spoolsv.exe" in Task Manager (if it is stalled, will be using no CPU time or most of it); change destination where print spool file resides if there is less than 100 MB free space

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  • Right-click document in print queue and select Restart from shortcut menu

  • Stop and Start the Print Spooler service

    • Launch Computer Management (from applet Administrative Tools in "Control Panel"); drill down to Services and Applications  Services

    • Right-click "Spoolsv.exe" for Properties

  • Back in print queue, right-click document and select Cancel; then try to reprint

    • Or see if remaining job(s) print

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Troubleshooting RAS Problems

  • RAS—Remote Access Service

    • Allows users to log into system remotely over phone lines (often when users are traveling)

  • Numerous points of possible failure:

    • Phone number, username and password

    • Configuration of the computers on both ends must match, i.e. security and protocol settings

    • Modem settings and power

    • Condition of communications line

      • Old wiring, electrical interference, bad weather

    • Also is call waiting disabled?

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Troubleshooting Network Problems (Page 1)

  • Hardware devices are just as suspect as software components

  • May need to perform some electrical tests, change physical settings, etc.

  • Check:

    • To see if other clients or network components are experiencing the same problem

    • Faults in NIC, network cables, terminators, hubs, repeaters, routers, etc.

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Troubleshooting Network Problems (Page 2)

  • Check (con.):

    • Protocol settings

    • Restart system

    • NIC drivers using self-test or diagnostic software to see if they are properly installed

    • The domain/workgroup membership of client

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Troubleshooting Disk Problems

  • Hard drive is the most active component on your computer that experiences so drive failures are not uncommon

  • Use Disk Management tool located in the Computer Management utility in Administrative Tools

  • Back up regularly

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Miscellaneous Troubleshooting Issues

  • Other troubleshooting issues:

    • Permission problems

    • MBR problems

    • Dr. Watson—an application error debugger which detects application failures and logs diagnostic details

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Permissions Problems

  • Usually occur:

    • When user is a member of groups with conflicting permissions

    • When permissions are managed on per-account basis

  • To test:

    • Attempt same actions and activities with Administrator privileges

    • Examine access control lists (ACLs)

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Master Boot Record Problems

  • If MBR (contains data structure that starts boot process) fails, the emergency repair disk (ERD) cannot be used to repair it

    • Must use one of the recovery tools

  • From Recovery Console, select FIXMBR command which will repair the MBR

  • If unable to run Recovery Console, boot to MS-DOS and use FDISK/MBR command

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Applying Service Packs and Hot Fixes (Page 1)

  • A Service pack is a collection of code replacements, patches, error corrections, new applications and version improvements

    • Corrects, replaces, or hides deficiencies of either the original product, earlier service packs, or hot fixes

    • Service packs are cumulative—all the updates for Service Pack 1 (SP1) are included in SP2

    • Not a bad idea to wait a period of time after release before implementing (Microsoft known for service packs with problems)

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Applying Service Packs and Hot Fixes (Page 2)

  • Hot fix is similar to a service pack, but addresses only single problem, or small number of problems

    • May not be fully tested so it should be used only when the problem it was designed to fix actually exists

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Applying Service Packs and Hot Fixes (Page 3)

  • Important points to remember about patches (service packs and hot fixes):

    • Always back up system before applying

    • Be certain the patch is for the correct CPU type and language version

    • Always read the readme file and Knowledge Base Q documents before installing

    • Update ERD before and after installing

    • Back up the Registry

    • Export disk configuration data from Disk Administrator

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Applying Service Packs and Hot Fixes (Page 4)

  • Service packs rewrite system-level files, so disconnect all users, exit all applications, and temporarily stop all unneeded services

  • To determine which is the latest service pack installed:

    • Select Help menu  About Windows in any native Windows dialog

    • In Registry view CSDVersion value entry in HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion subkey

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Applying Service Packs and Hot Fixes (Page 5)

  • Many ways to download and install of the most recent service pack:

    • Download from

    • Easy way is to click Windows Update Web site hyperlink in "Automatic Updates" applet of Control Panel

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Applying Service Packs and Hot Fixes (Page 6)

  • An integrated installation of a service pack involves integrating it into the installation procedure of Windows XP

    • Download network installation version of service pack

    • Install it in a network server folder and unpack it

    • Integrate files into duplicated Windows XP Professional CD files

    • Share the folder and start the installation

  • Service pack cannot be uninstalled when integrated in the Windows XP installation