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Windows XP Service Pack 3 is relatively stable for most people. If you have issues you may want to block Windows Update from installing SP3.

My machine can't handle Windows XP SP3. How do I prevent Windows Update from continually trying to install it?

Window XP SP3 has had a fairly reasonable success rate, but it definitely causes some people problems. While I don't think it's a long term solution, you can indeed prevent Windows Update from trying to install SP3.

First, let's make sure that you've done everything correct to prepare for installing SP3. It's not as fragile as SP2 was when it first came out, but nonetheless, the following steps from the "are you ready for SP2" information still apply:

"Window XP SP3 has had a fairly reasonable success rate ..."
  • Make sure you've scanned for both viruses and spyware, and that your scanners are running with up-to-date malware databases.

  • Make sure you're up to date with all the patches prior to SP3.

  • Back up your computer.

  • Make sure you have room for the service pack to download and install. (Microsoft recommends at least 1.5 gigabytes.)

Microsoft also has its own knowledgebase article, Steps to take before you install Windows XP Service Pack 3, with these and other tips for a successful SP3 installation.

But what if all that still fails? There are reports of machines where SP3 causes problems which force users to uninstall it to recover.

Microsoft has also made available a Windows Service Pack Blocker Tool Kit. This tool will add a registry entry that will prevent Windows Update from installing SP3.

Note that manual installs will still work; this blocks only the installation via Windows Update.

When the time comes to install SP3, you can then also use this tool to remove that block.

Article C3473 - August 11, 2008 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

Ken Crook
August 16, 2008 5:28 PM

When Windows Automatic Update shows the XP-SP3 update just uncheck the box. Windows Update will ask if you want to ignore the unchecked update in the future, check the box. Windows Update will not ask again. If you want to later install it you can go to Windows Update and choose Custom Install which will show the updates you have chosen not to install. You can then install the updates.
I am waiting to get XP-SP3 on CD so I don't have to download it and will have it on hand for future use, if needed.
Leo, is there any news on Microsoft offering XP-SP3 on CD?

As I understand it, SP3 has been available on CD for a while: How do I get Windows XP SP3 on CD?


August 19, 2008 7:31 PM

Why should I backup? Isn't the Restore function good enough if something goes wrong?

No, no, NO. System restore only restores certain things (like the registry), and only keeps the information for a limited amount of time. If what you've lost is outside of what system restore does, or longer ago than system restore has bothered to keep it, then you're screwed. System Restore is NOT a replacement for backups.


August 27, 2008 8:42 PM

Uncle please tell me how to disconnect his internet connection example:my brother always download some program from rapid share or something and make mine it's very very slow and i want to know how to disconnect his connection line i mean disable his not mine please tell me..........thanks

September 18, 2008 8:54 AM

SP3 really screwed up my networking.
I had to uninstall it and then do a repair install to make it work. Not happy Jan!!!

September 25, 2008 3:25 PM

I've had mixed results with service pack 3. my computer now has a system process that constantly runs at 10% CPU usage. This has slowed my computer greatly. I checked for other rogue processes, but it seems that this is a windows process that starts almost at boot time and has turned my once reasonable computer into a slow pig.

This occurred immediately after installing service pack 3. While I won't uninstall SP3, had I known how to block it I might have. I suspect this is the last straw for windows in my network.

September 29, 2008 3:36 AM

I have been having problems over the past few weeks - where I get the message "windows explorer has encountered a problem..." or "Dr Watson’s debugger has encountered a problem" when going into explorer.
I have ran many virus checkers – Ad ware checkers and am picking up no viruses or anything wrong with my computer, except this problem, it happens about 10 seconds after opening explorer with or without me doing anything to the files. When accessing media files I am unable to play them with media player / classic, it just crashes.
Is this a problem with service pack 3? My errors have only occurred since I had a few automatic updates – so I am suspicious… Any cures?

Vic McDonald
January 2, 2009 1:34 AM

Thanks! I've tried and failed to install Service Pack 3 on two laptops and one desktop 3 times each. Each effort failed. Thanks to the blocker I won't have to deal with this nightmare again!

Ann E. Rankin
July 6, 2009 8:44 PM

Without my knowledge and approval, Microsoft has attached Window XP Service Pack 3 to my hard drive, causing their advertising of this product to flash across my screen, every few seconds. It is very disruptive. I have asked them to remove it. They have not done this. They attached it, without a " Removal" button, for me to click, in my "Add/Remove" program. It is outrageous. I just want to know how to dismantle it. If you know, please contact me. -- Ann E. Rankin [email address removed]

June 4, 2010 8:10 AM

Windows SP 3 makes my computer go haywire and it wants to install its own programs!!

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