How to Install Windows Vista Service Pack 2 (SP2)

Get this all-important service pack

What to Know

  • Back up your personal data before upgrading.
  • Ensure that you have SP1 installed by going to Start > Control Panel and entering Windows Update in search. Select Check for Updates.
  • Open the install file, select Next. Follow the on-screen instructions.

This article explains how to update Vista to Service Pack 2. Instructions apply to Windows Vista SP1. The information includes the preparations needed before the installation.

How to Install the Vista SP2 Upgrade

If you've completed the preparations for the upgrade (see below), it's time to begin the upgrade. If you're using Windows Update to upgrade to SP2, these instructions don't apply. If, however, you downloaded Vista SP2 directly from the Microsoft Download Center to install it manually, here's what you need to do.

  1. Start the Vista SP2 upgrade by double-clicking the installation file.

  2. When the Welcome to Windows Vista Service Pack 2 window appears, select Next.

  3. Follow the on-screen instructions.

    Your computer might restart several times as part of the installation. Do not unplug or shut down your computer during the installation.

  4. When the installation of SP2 is complete, a message appears on your screen informing you that Windows Vista SP2 is now running.

  5. If you disabled antivirus software before installing Vista SP2, reenable it.

Once the upgrade begins, you will not be able to use your computer. It may take up to an hour or two for the installation to complete.

If you have problems with the installation, visit your local computer repair shop as Microsoft no longer provides free support for Windows Vista Service Pack issues.

Preparations for Installing Windows Service Pack 2

Before you install Windows Vista Service Pack 2, take the time to back up your data and perform pre-installation checks and final checks as listed here.

Back Up, Back Up, and Then Back Up Some More

As with any upgrade to Windows, no matter the version, the most important first step to take is backing up your personal files.

Any software installation or update has the potential to malfunction. There is nothing worse than dealing with a bad update that destroys your files because of a corrupted file, power outage, or mechanical failure. If your PC goes on the fritz during an update, don't let it take your photos, videos, and documents with it.

There are several ways you can back up your files and plenty of free backup software utilities are available to make saving your data a breeze.

Perform Pre-Installation Checks

Now that your files are backed up, you're ready for the next step. Before you install the Vista SP2 upgrade, perform the following checks.

As it is a prerequisite for installing its successor, make sure you have Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) installed before you try to install Vista SP2. If you're not sure if you have SP1, keep using Windows Update to search for new updates by doing the following:

  1. Go to Start > Control Panel.

  2. In the Control Panel search box, enter Windows Update.

  3. Select Check for updates.

  4. Install any required updates.

The great thing about Windows Update is that it won't let you install updates without installing their prerequisites first.

Final Checks

The rest of the pre-upgrade checks are straightforward. Here's what you need to do:

  • Ensure there is a constant power supply so the computer does not shut off during the upgrade process.
  • Check that there is enough hard drive space. Vista SP2 can use up to 2 GB of space.
  • Do one last check to make sure you backed up all critical files before the upgrade.
  • Temporarily disable your antivirus software, and close all programs before beginning the upgrade.
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