Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) is available. I'll look at when, and why, and how soon Windows 7 SP1 makes sense. I'll also look at the best ways to get it.
I've heard that Windows 7 SP1 is out. Is it safe to install? Should I?
Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) is now available.
That doesn't necessarily mean that you should just immediately install it, though.
Windows 7 SP1 isn't really all that exciting. The point of SP1 is simply to roll-up bug fixes and patches made so far. It probably also includes some less critical bug fixes that haven't yet made it out to the average Windows 7 machine.
It shouldn't significantly impact your machine's operation - well, other than making it more stable and secure.
I emphasize "shouldn't" because it comes with a small amount of risk, as do all major updates. I have heard of a very small number of people who are having problems with it.
You can probably guess how I'll suggest you start.
When installing stuff on my machines, I tend to not always follow my own advice, but not when it comes to a service pack. Immediately before installing it on my laptop, I've taken a full backup of the machine. If anything goes wrong, I know that I can always revert to this pre-SP1 backup image with no harm done, other than time wasted.
I strongly recommend you do something similar.
Microsoft has made SP1 available via Windows Update uncharacteristically early.
What's interesting to note about the listing in Windows update is that the size is specified as a range: 73.6MB - 892.6MB. That means that depending on your machine, it could be as small as 73.6 megabytes, or as much as nearly 900 megabytes - that's over one CD's worth of data. And, of course, you won't know how much you need until the service pack begins installation.
That's a lot of data that might need to be downloaded.
Fortunately, there's an alternative. You can order a DVD with SP1. U.S. and Canada can order here. (Other regions: Asia, Europe and Africa, South America). Note that these links only seemed to work in Internet Explorer when I tried.
The disc is free, but there is a shipping charge. Mine was $5.99 and the disc arrived in less than a week.
Regardless of whether you get it via Windows Update or via a DVD, the net result should be the same.
If you do see SP1 in Windows Update, and you elect to hold off on it for a while (which I'll discuss below), right-click on the Windows 7 Service Pack 1 line in Windows Update and click on Hide:
You'll no longer see it in the offered updates. You can either install SP1 via a DVD, thus avoiding the lengthy download, or when you're ready to take the update later, unhide it by clicking the Restore hidden updates on the Windows Update main page.
Installing SP1 via Windows Update should be no different than any other Windows Update, other than perhaps the length of time that it might take to download.
Honestly, if you have more than one machine, I'd be seriously tempted to get the DVD. Each machine you install it on will need its own download. In my case, I have six machines that run Windows 7, so that would mean six potentially large downloads. The DVD just makes a lot more sense.
To install from the DVD, insert it, and if Autoplay doesn't ask you what to do, open Windows Explorer on the DVD drive and double-click on Setup.
Follow the instructions and shortly you'll see that your installation is underway:
As you can see, the installation might take some time and the machine may reboot several times.
One piece of advice that I heard that I agree with is simple: if you've just received a new machine and it does not yet have SP1 on it, install that first. You'll get a number of updates all at once and avoid a potentially more piecemeal approach if Windows Update tries to give you the updates individually.
Similarly, if ,you're reinstalling Windows 7 for any reason, install SP1 right away as well.
For everyone else, I'd probably wait a few months, say June, 2011 or so. This is just to let others experience any problems that might be part of the update, and to either allow SP1 to be fixed as needed or, for support sites and the Microsoft Knowledgebase to accumulate any workarounds to problems that people have experienced.
I'm not saying that a problem is likely, not at all. But the reality is that a few people will experience issues with the update, and it'd be best to let others blaze the trail, just in case you happen to be one of those few.
As with prior service packs, machines which have malware are the most likely to experience issues, so make sure your machine is as clean as you can get it.
For the vast majority of people, the SP1 update should not be an issue. I do recommend that you install it eventually.
You just don't need to be in a rush.
(This is an update to an article originally published July 14, 2010.)