Monday, September 9, 2013

Problems with Vista SP1 to SP2?

Problem: Microsoft Windows Vista Service Pack 1(SP1) computer won't install updates. (i.e. Vista Service Pack 2 (SP2))

Issue: Computers that came with a restore partition instead of the operating system on DVD came with a cloned version of the operating system that online authentication may not recognize. Updates will not install. Internet Explorer will not upgrade, etc.

Solution: Locate a copy of the operating system on DVD either from a friend or via online resources like eBay. The DVD doesn't necessarily need to be from your computer's manufacturer but does need to be your version of windows (32 bit or 64 bit) SP1 or SP2. Follow these steps Warning: you will lose your files and data so backup step is imperative:

  1. Back up your data and your desktop settings. A good place to start is by using the Windows Migration tool. 
  2. Download all the drivers for your computer from your computer manufacturers website. The HP 9700 that we used as an example had a nice website that listed all the drivers.  Be sure to put the drivers on a CD or USB drive. Windows comes with some drivers but will probably not be the most up to date and may not have all that you need. Take a look at everything in your device manager and locate the installation discs for your other items like printers. 
  3. Use the found DVD to reinstall your operating syste m. Once installed, go to Control Panel/Window Authentication and re-authenticate your copy of Windows with the key off of your computer (not the key from the DVD package if you're borrowing the DVD).
  4. Make sure you can install updates. Please note: Install the SP2 first as it includes a lot of smaller updates. We ran into a problem with the next bunch of updates. The computer stalled and went into a loop at installing 3 of 3 updates. Since safe mode didn't work, we put the DVD back into the computer and ran a repair. The only thing that worked was restoring to the previous clean boot point. After that head over to: and run a Mr. Fixit from Microsoft then rerun the updates.
  5. Run your Windows Migration to reinstall back up files made in step 1.
Lesson Learned: Next time you go to purchase a computer, insist on the operating system on DVD. The partitions may seem like a money saving, green way to provide a back up to your operating system. But as demonstrated time and time again, the back up is not the complete copy of the operating system needed to fix or repair the computer when something goes wrong. Problems arise when a cloned partition is authenticated through Microsoft. This leaves systems unable to install security updates, making it easy for hackers to enter your computer and get information like your bank account numbers and log on.  In addition, when we experienced problems such as the step 3 above, the fix could not have been performed without the DVD. Don't leave the computer store without that DVD!