Wednesday, September 08, 2004

XP SP-2 Update

As an update to my 8/23 blog, I recommended this strategy to minimize the destruction caused by the Microsoft update.

1. Turn off "automatic update" to prevent Microsoft from updating your computer to SP-2. Right click on My Computer, choose Properties, and review the options under the automatic updates tab.

2. Run software to remove spyware to clean existing problems. Many of the security improvements in SP-2 are intended to block spyware, but can't protect you from malicious programs that are already running on your computer. AdAware and SpyBot are most recommended. You can get them free at or It's very important that you keep spyware off your computer.

3. Do full backups. Don't wait to be surprised by problems that occur with your data files.

4. Back up your Windows Registry, by clicking Start / Run and typing regedit and then choose File / Export and name the file regbkup so you can restore it if needed.

5. Make frequent use of Windows System Restore to set restore points. You'll find this under Start / Programs / Accessories / System Tools

6. Download patches from vendors whose products won't work right after the Microsoft update. Among the known problems are conflicts with Norton products, some AOL features, FTP, and SBC Global DSL. Learn more at

PC Magazine ( reports the focus of SP2's increased security, as well as the cause of most problems is the new Windows Firewall, which replaced Windows XP's Internet Connection Firewall (ICF).

When you run firewall software, you have to be prepared to learn how to approve or block incoming and outgoing activity over the Internet and manage the process to allow exceptions for the programs you want to access the web, such as IM or FTP. Keep in mind, though, that making a broad exception to allow programs to run on your computer and online will defeat the purpose of the security. When in doubt, I recommend you do not allow a program to access the web, and see if you can still function well online. If your access to something vital is blocked, then change the rule to allow access. Learn more about firewalls at

Stay safe online,

Helen Gallagher