Key benefits of Microsoft SP2 CD vs SP2 download?

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Deanna K. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

Thank you for your wonderful newsletter and relentless dedication and support for computer newbies (like myself)! I have been carefully following your recent discussions concerning SP2; however, I have a question that I cannot seem to find the answer to. I understand that I can get Windows XP Service Pack 2 CD for free from Microsoft. Subsequently, a number of tech articles that I've read recommend that I get the Service Pack 2 CD instead of downloading SP2 from the Internet. Can you explain why this is so? "

My response:

I've received this question quite a few times in the last few days, so I'll try to shed some light.

First, let me say that I would agree that an SP2 CD is preferable to downloading Service Pack 2 over the Internet, but only if: a) you have a slow Internet connection, and/or b) you otherwise have problems / cannot download the 272 megabyte version of SP2 "for IT professionals" -- the most preferred downloadable version of Service Pack 2 (more info about that further down the page). Having said that, let me point out some key benefits of having a Service Pack 2 CD versus downloading it off the Internet:

Convenience. Having Service Pack 2 on CD means that: a) you can refer to it any time you need to, and b) you don't have to download it from Microsoft.

Portability. The CD version of SP2 is 'complete' in a sense that you can use the same disc to deploy Service Pack 2 onto multiple Windows XP PCs. Comparably, the Windows Update web site is a service that is unique for every computer that uses it, and therefore, downloading SP2 using this method cannot be used to duplicate an SP2 install on another XP machine.

Stability. Because the Service Pack 2 CD comes from a controlled environment (I.E.: from Microsoft), there is little chance that the disc and the data it contains will be corrupt. Consider it this way: if (for some reason) you downloaded a corrupt SP2 installation (due to a virus or an incorrect file system errors on your hard drive, for example), the Service Pack 2 installation might fail. Having SP2 on CD (from Microsoft) ensures data validity and therefore lessens the chance that SP2 may fail to install properly.

Slipstreaming. The SP2 CD (along with the 272 megabyte SP2 download "for IT Professionals") allows you to create an XP Slipstream CD. Side note: In essence, slipstreaming means to "integrate the Service Pack into the Windows installation CD so that every new installation the Operating System will also include the Service Pack. The advantage to slipstreaming is that any (re)install of Windows XP will not require you to apply the Service Pack later. Slipstreaming also ensures that you will get the correct installation files if you need to repair or update components of Windows at a later time." (Source:

In the event that Service Pack 2 fails to install properly over top of your current Windows installation, the Slipstream version of Service Pack 2 will: a) Save you the trouble of applying Service Pack 2 after Windows is reinstalled, and b) Give you piece of mind that SP2 is installed with a fresh copy of Windows (thereby lessening the chance that the Service Pack installation may fail).

I hope this answers your question. At this time I would also like to point out that the eBook that my Service Pack 2 FailSafe Guide special promotion is currently on sale (details are in the link below):

Major Announcement: XP Service Pack 2 eBook release

Rate this article: 
No votes yet