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Windows XP SP3 Download

B.Sc. (Hons), M.Sc., MBCS, CITP

The Windows XP SP3 Download tutorial is a plea to all home computer users who are still running Windows XP. If you do not have Service Pack 3 installed, please read this page and upgrade ASAP!

To protect your computer from Malware and other cyber criminal activity, You Must Upgrade To XP Service Pack 3!


Windows XP has gone End of Life (EOL) on April 8th 2014. This means no further security patches or updates for this Operating System. My advice is to move to the latest operating system version as soon as possible

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This tutorial is the second of a two part series based on Windows XP Service Pack download options. Here we discuss:-

Part One shows you the reasons why you should upgrade from Service Pack 2. It is surprising how many home computers do not have SP3 installed. Part one also explains the benefits of installing SP3, such as increasing performance and security, for example.

There is also a good checklist for what you need to do to prepare your computer before upgrading to Service Pack 3. This is an essential read!

Applying Service Packs is quite an easy thing to do. Just follow the guide, and you should be able to upgrade without any problems.

Download And Install SP3 Manually

The following steps show you how to apply the Windows XP SP3 download yourself. Some professionals prefer this method, so they can control when the Service Pack is applied.

However, I am more than happy to let Automatic Updates control this.

For the purposes of this tutorial, I am using Microsoft Windows XP Professional SP3. You can use the same download for whatever version of Windows XP you are using.

Depending on the speed of your computer, the process could take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.

To apply the Windows XP SP3 download.

  • Select the Save Button on the File Download Prompt then wait patiently for the Service Pack to download. Depending on your Internet speed this could take a while.
  • Once the EXE is downloaded, double click to start the process. Select the Run Button when prompted, then wait for the files contained within the EXE to be extracted.

Windows XP Service Pack 3 Download Security WarningWindows XP Service Pack 3 Download Security Warning

  • When the files finish extracting select the Next Button on the Software Update Installation Wizard. 

    Note the advice to Backup your system (and your data files) and close all open programs. Open programs can cause the installation to fail.
  • Select the:- I Agree option on the Licence Agreement screen, then select Next.
  • Next, you can choose where to store the current system files that Service Pack 3 modify and replace. My advice is to accept the suggested location and select Next.

File Location ChoiceFile Location Choice

  • The Update Wizard will inspect your computer then start the backup of your system files. Depending on the speed of your computer, this could take a while.
  • After the Backup step is complete, a System Restore Point is created. If there is a problem, you have the option to roll back to before you started the update process.
  • Once the Restore Point is created the new Service Pack files are installed.
  • After the Service Pack 3 files are installed, a series of clean up tasks are performed. Again the speed of your computer will determine how long this step takes. 

    After these tasks are complete, the service Pack installation process finishes. Click the Finish Button prompting your computer to Restart.

Installation CompleteInstallation Complete

  • When your computer restarts, you should have SP3 installed. To confirm this, right-click the:- My Computer icon on your desktop then select Properties from the resulting menu. Do you see SP3?

System Properties Showing Service Pack 3 InstalledSystem Properties Showing Service Pack 3 Installed

That's it! Straightforward or what! You will find that once Service Pack 3 is installed, there will be a raft of additional updates waiting to be installed via Automatic Updates.

Return to the Table of Contents

Download And Install SP3 Via Automatic Updates

If you have Windows XP SP2, you can download Service Pack 3 via the Automatic Update utility.

This is the common method of installation for most home computer users.

  • Whether you initiate the installation, or Automatic Updates does, you are prompted to Accept The Licence Agreement.
  • Service Pack 3 will now download to your computer.

Windows XP SP3 Download Automatic Updates DownloadingWindows XP SP3 Download Automatic Updates Downloading

  • Once Service Pack 3 is downloaded, the Microsoft Windows Update begins to install. From this point, you follow the steps above, starting from the Update Wizard.
  • When the installation completes, click the button to Restart Your Computer.

Automatic Updates Installation CompleteWindows XP SP3 Download
Automatic Updates Installation Complete

As with the manual process, there is a load of subsequent Security Updates to apply. These updates are what Microsoft have released since Service Pack 3.

Return to the Table of Contents

Windows XP SP3 Download | Final Thoughts

In conclusion, if you are going to download Windows XP SP2, DON'T! Install Service Pack 3 instead.

PC Advisor has a good 3-part article on Service Pack 3 that is worth a read.

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