Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Windows XP SP3 can occasionally have install problems. I'll look at steps to take to make it work since it'll soon be required for continued support.
I have attempted repeatedly to download SP3 for XP but always have a reboot problem. I have a Compaq Pressario running AMD 64. I read where Microsoft will quit supporting XP without SP3 in July. I used Microsoft Security Essentials. Is there a "work around" for this? Do I really need SP3?
There are a couple of things going on here, but yes ... Windows XP SP3 has become more important than ever with the impending termination of support for Windows XP with only SP2.
I'll show you several ways to get it.
As well as one reason that still you might not actually need it.
First I'll start with an important quote from Microsoft's own Learn how to install Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) page:
There's no SP3 for the 64-bit version of Windows XP. If you're running the 64-bit version of Windows XP with SP2, you have the latest service pack and will continue to be eligible for support and receive updates until April 8, 2014. To find out what version you're running, see Is my PC running the 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows?
Not many people run the 64 bit version of Windows XP. (In fact, there's a good chance that you didn't even realize that there was one .). But for those of you that do, SP2 is all you need. You're good until 2014.
I mention that since you said you have an AMD 64 processor. You're probably running the 32 bit version of Windows, but just in case, you should check. SP3 won't install if you're running the 64 bit version.
Like almost every service pack, SP3 got some bad press because it would occasionally cause troubles for some people when installed. It worked just fine for most, but a very small percentage people installing it had problems. Of course it didn't matter to you that it was a tiny percent if you were one of them - it didn't work.
Knowing that there's a small chance of problem when installing SP3, I suggest the following procedure:
Back up. Take an image backup of your system so that no matter what you can restore that image if something goes wrong.
Visit Windows Update, and allow it to install everything. SP3 should be on the list.
Make sure that your system is working properly. Chances are it will be.
As an alternative to using Windows Update, you can get a free Windows XP SP3 download or you can ask for it on CD:
Windows XP Service Pack 3 Network Installation Package for IT Professionals and Developers - this is a single downloadable executable that when run installs SP3. It's intended, as its name implies, for people who manage several computers and want to download the service pack once rather than have each machine go through the process.
Windows XP SP3 on CD is available from Microsoft for a minimal cost. This avoids the download process entirely and gets you a physical CD from which you can install SP3. This is perfect for folks who are still on dial-up.
Windows XP Service Pack 3 - ISO-9660 CD Image File is sort of a combination of the two steps above. It's a downloadable image of the SP3 CD. If you can download, I'm not aware of an advantage over the network install, but provide it here as kind of "another thing to try" should you encounter problems.
The major difference between Windows Update and these three alternate methods is that Windows Update will download only those portions of SP3 that apply to your machine. Each of the three alternatives above include every bit of SP3 whether you need it or not. If you find yourself downloading SP3 a lot, they can be a huge time saver.
And they're also an alternate approach to installing SP3 that I recommend you try should you encounter difficulties with Windows Update.
In the past, I've said that it doesn't matter much, and you can continue running with SP2 only.
With the demise of support for XP SP2 I believe that if you're sticking with Windows XP you owe it to yourself to get SP3 installed so as to continue receiving important security updates if for no other reason.
If installing SP3 using the methods above doesn't work then I have one last recommendation:
Back up, reformat and reinstall.
Painful as it is, it's what I think you should consider doing.
The problem, so to speak, is that most service pack installation failures are due to there being something wrong or misconfigured about the system it's being installed on. To get real technical, "something ain't right", and the only way to really clean things up is with a clean install:
Back up your system, completely.
Reinstall Windows XP from your original installation media, reformatting the hard disk as part of that process.
Bring Windows XP as up to date as possible via Windows Update. This should get you to Windows XP SP3.
Reinstall your applications.
Restore your data.
I know it's painful, but it stands the highest chance of getting you to the supported SP3 level and keep your computer safely running Windows XP for a few more years.