Microsoft XP Updates
The Practical Side

Microsoft XP Updates are an essential part of computer security. Without them, your machine is vulnerable to the millions of active Computer Viruses and Malware.


Windows XP has gone End of Life (EOL) on April 8th 2014. This means no further security patches or Service Packs for this Operating System!

Microsoft recently announced the continuation of advisories for newly discovered vulnerabilities, and the continuation of updates for things like Windows Defender only.

My advice is to move to Windows 7 (assuming you wish to stay on a Windows platform) as soon as possible.

I also advise not moving to Windows 8 or Windows 8.1. At the time of writing it appears this Operating System is experiencing numerous issues.

Windows 10 is to be released on the 29th July 2015. After moving to Windows 7 it is worth waiting to see what Windows 10 brings before deciding to move to this latest version.

Products of Interest!


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This is the 2nd of a 2 part tutorial on Microsoft XP Updates. After reading through this page you will:

  • Know when Microsoft Updates for XP are needed by your machine

  • Understand the choices you have for applying and excluding your computers patches

  • See the Microsoft Windows XP Updates process in action on your machine in real time

  • How to test your computer after the Microsoft Windows Update process has completed

  • How to identify and remove an update that could now be causing your computer some problems

Part 1 provides need to know information such as What are Windows XP Security Updates? And What types of patches does Microsoft issue?

This is essentially a description of the bigger picture with regards to Microsoft Windows XP Updates which I think ALL home computers users should know!

There are Home Computer Users who remain XP Service Pack 2 or earlier. Therefore they are NOT receiving any more Security patches. Are you one?

Do you actively NOT apply Windows Updates? What problems, if any, has this caused you? Write your own web page by completing the Do You NOT Apply Windows Updates? Form at the bottom of this page.

Share your experiences, thoughts and opinions with everyone!

You can also read other Site Visitors Experiences with Windows XP updates.

Table of Contents

  1. Install Your Computers Updates
  2. Test Your Computer After Updates Are Applied
  3. Fix Update Problems
  4. Microsoft XP Updates Final Thoughts

Install Your Computers Updates

Windows XP regularly checks for new patches released by Microsoft. Depending how your computer is setup, the yellow update shield appears in your System Tray to tell you new patches are available.

System Tray Yellow Shield Icon

System Tray Yellow Shield Icon

  • If you have Automatic Updates setup differently, or you want to keep an eye on how the update installation process is progressing, double click the highlighted Windows Update shield, as shown above.

  • If your computers new patches have not installed yet, you are presented with a couple of options: 

    Ensure Express Install (Recommended) is selected and click OK. This immediately starts the installation of your computers new patches. 

    If you want to pick and choose which patches you install, select the Custom Install (Advanced) option.

How Do you Want To Install Updates?
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How Do you Want To Install Updates?

  • If you decided to select the Custom Install option, you are presented with a list of updates to be applied, and the choice of which updates NOT to install. 

    For example, if there were any Windows XP Device Drivers listed, I would personally untick them so they would not be installed. 

    This is because I think device drivers issued by the manufacturers are much better than the cut down ones issues by Microsoft. 

    I have experienced lots of issues with device drivers issued by Microsoft, and I am keen for you not to experience these issues either. 

    Therefore, I strongly advise you not to install devices drivers issued by Microsoft. 

    As you see from the images below, Microsoft tend to issue a mix of Security UpdatesCritical Updates and Definition Updates for products such as the Microsoft Malware Removal Tool.

Security Updates
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Choose Updates To Install

Standard Updates
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Choose Updates To Install More Updates

  • Click the Install button to start the installation process

  • When Microsoft XP Updates are installing, you can continue working without interruption. The message below appears. 

    However, if you own an older computer, you may find things slow down a little when certain patches are released. Be patient and let them complete.

System Tray Installing Updates
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System Tray Installing Updates

  • If you click the Installing Updates... Speech bubble you can watch the updates installing. This is handy if you want to see which updates are failing to install.

Windows XP Updates Are Being Installed
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Windows XP Updates Are Being Installed

  • Microsoft XP Updates can take a variable amount of time to install, depending on the number of patches, types and sizes. 

    For example, if you are installing larger patches, such as the Windows XP SP3 download it could take anywhere up to an hour for the install process to complete. 

    Once the installation process in complete, you have the choice to either Restart Now or simply Close the Automatic Updates window.

    I advise to select the Restart Now option ASAP. This way your computer is made more secure more quickly.

Installation Complete
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Installation Complete

  • If you decide to simply Close the Installation Complete screen, the message below randomly appears reminding you that your computer needs to be restarted to complete the installation process. 

    You may choose this option if you are in the middle of something and you want to complete it first.

No Restart Message
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  • The message below appears on your screen from time to time to remind you that your computers needs to be restarted to complete the installation process. 

    I find this screen becomes annoying. Take a moment to restart your computer.

Restart Now or Restart Later Message
(Click Image To Enlarge)

  • When your computer restarts, you see a message in your System Tray conforming the update process has completed successfully.

    It is also worth noting that if you do not trigger the update process, you are given the option to install any available updates on shutdown.

    One of the following images appear. If you haven't applied patches during your Windows session, I strongly advise you install them now.

Install Updates and Shutdown
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Install Updates and Shutdown

Install Important Updates
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Install Important Updates

The next section looks at the types of things you can do to ensure patches have not triggered any problems.

Return to the Table of Contents

Test Your Computer After
Updates Are Applied

Complete some or all of the following to ensure Microsoft XP Updates do not destabalise your computer.

  • Test Your Applications: Do your computers games, business programs and other applications work OK?

  • How Is Your Computer Performing? Is it loading up as expected, and is it running at least as quickly as when before patches were applied?

  • Are Your Peripherals Still Working?: Printers, Scanners etc. This is a particularly important action if you have installed device driver updates

  • How Is Your Web Browsing? Are the web sites you use working OK and loading just as quickly as before? Are your download speeds as expected? Take a look at the Internet Explorer Slow tutorial for more details

How much time you spend on testing is entirely up to you. I usually check a couple of programs, web sites and maybe the printer.

I also observe my computers performance on boot up, session activity and shutdown.

I don't spend a lot of time testing. More often than not my own computer is fine after updates are applied. I suspect this is the same in your case too.

Next we look at what you can do if a specific patch is causing you problems.

Return to the Table of Contents

Fix Update Problems

There are a couple of things you can do here:

If you test your computer and find any issues, the first thing to do is look at the Microsoft updates that have been applied to your computer.

For example, if I suddenly had issues watching DVD's on my computer, I may suspect update KB2661637 (Opens New Window) is the culprit. This particular security update stops cyber criminals accessing your computer:

Microsoft XP Updates KB2661637
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Microsoft XP Updates KB2661637

The files that are replaced on your computer are backed up automatically. To remove this security update, or any other update, follow these actions.

  • Open Windows Explorer

    Go to Start > Programs > Accessories > Windows Explorer

  • Go to C:\Windows, then select the backup directory of the update you want to remove. 

    A Microsoft XP Update backup directory always has the format: $NtUninstallKB#######$. The image below shows you the actual backup directory in this example.

Security Updates Backup Files
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Security Updates Backup Files

  • In the spuninst sub-directory Double Left Click the spuninst.exe file

  • Click Next on the Software Update Removal Wizard screen.

Software Update removal Wizard
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Software Update removal Wizard

  • Before the problematic update is removed, you may be warned that some of your programs might not run properly. Click Yes to continue, but Only If You Are Sure! 

    If you have any concerns contact your local computer repair company for advice and guidance.

Removal Program Issues
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Microsoft XP Updates Removal Program Issues

  • The update is removed from your computer, and the unpatched files are put back into your Operating System. Click Finish when prompted.

Software Update Removal Wizard
(Click Image To Enlarge)

Software Update Removal Wizard

  • I advise you to Restart Your Computer even though you may not be prompted to do so. 

    This way you quickly test your machine to see if that patch in question is the cause of your issues

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Microsoft XP Updates
Final Thoughts

I hope you found this tutorial series on Microsoft XP Updates informative and helpful

Although this is now very much a legacy operating system, it is one of Microsoft's most successful. It's such a shame it is not secure in the way it is written, and the fact Microsoft are always eager to move everyone on to the latest platform.

Still, I will look back on Windows XP with great fondness, as I'm sure you will too.

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