Upgrading a computer dramatically (as with Service Pack 2) is rarely a quick process. There are several optional tasks that can protract an already lengthy upgrade process. For example, you might "clone" your existing drive before upgrading as part of the backup procedure (discussed in step 2).
But no matter which optional tasks you choose, there are two steps that, if taken, give you the best chance for a problem-free installation of Service Pack 2:
You should also make sure you obtain the latest drivers and patches for existing software and hardware. Most major vendors have updated information on their Websites about how to get their product ready for SP2 installation.
If you fail to clean up viruses and spyware before SP2 installation, your computer might be difficult to restart. Windows SP2 likes to start its security baseline with a clean bill of health.
Additionally, you should disable any antivirus programs running in the backgroundmost antivirus programs are set up this way. Because they're running in the background, antivirus programs can sometimes interfere with certain SP2 setup procedures, such as changing the Windows registry. The steps for disabling antivirus software will depend on the antivirus product you use, but usually you can disable the program by right-clicking the program's icon in the System Tray and choosing Disable, Turn Off, Exit, or something similar.
If you decide it's time to upgrade to SP2 (or if Windows Automatic Updates decides this for you), then you couldn't pick a better time to make a complete backup of your data. Unless nothing on that XP computer of yours is important, then you should select a backup method and get cracking.
To help you, XP has a Backup Utility built-in. You can start the XP Backup Utility by clicking on Start | All Programs | Accessories | System Tools | Backup.
When the Backup Utility starts, a wizard interface lets you select what to back up and where to store it. Figure 1-3 shows the Backup or Restore Wizard at the dialog box where these selections can be made. Note that other backup options exist; in one of the wizard's dialog boxes, clicking a single button will back up the entire system.
Figure 1-3. Making a backup before SP2 installation.
A full discussion of the Backup Utility can be found in Chapter 13, "XP Backup and Recovery."