How to Update Windows XP to Service Pack 3

Just as my fellow author, Amit, had warned you, Microsoft has ended support for PCs running Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2). According to figures I’ve seen at InformationWeek, as many as 45% of Windows XP machines will need to update to SP3 in order to stay secure.

If you are running a PC that has not been updated yet, there’s no need to panic. Computers running SP2 will continue to work as usual. The end of support for SP2 simply means that those computers will not receive the most current security fixes from Microsoft’s update website or the automated updates.

Since it’s very important to keep your Windows up to date, how can you find out if your machine needs to update to SP3?

The quickest and easiest way to find out is a keyboard shortcut: [Windows key] [Pause/Break]


Another way to view your current Windows version is to right click on a My Computermenu entry or desktop icon and choose the Propertiesitem in the list.


As a result of either of these actions, you should see your computer’s properties as shown below.


If it says Service Pack 2, then you should use one of the links below to update your PC to SP3. I’ve included four ways to update and a brief description of each method.

A. Windows Update Website
Yes, it’s as easy as visiting Microsoft, however, you will need to use Internet Explorer because Microsoft hates to see you use any other type of web browser.

B. Service Pack 3 Network Install
Despite what the title implies, you can download this single executable file and it will install SP3 easily on any XP machine that needs it. The file is a bit over 300mb in size.

C. Service Pack 3 Add-on for Multi-Lingual Users
If you use languages other than English, you may need this file in addition to the download Babove. It’s only about 9mb in size.

D. Service Pack 3 ISO / CD Image
You can download this ISO file (CD image) and burn it to a CD. This makes it possible for you to have a backup copy and to use it on any XP machine that needs it. The file is over 500mb in size.

E. You can also order a CD from Microsoft by using one of the location links below:
Asia / Europe and Africa / North America / South America

Now, I’m feeling better after writing this important public service announcement. I hope you feel better too, after you’ve updated your old Windows XP machines.

Published by

Clif Sipe

Promoting Freeware and Free information since 2004. Owner of with over 2000 pages of freebies. Please subscribe to my Google Feed or follow me on Twitter @clifnotes.

  • Hey Clif

    Thanks for the post…I didn't even know there was a Service Pack 3 out. Will update.

  • Shreddi

    What if your XP OS pc gets reformated and you find Windows site no longer has download for service pack 1 or 2? Would be nice if instead of installers they let us download the entire patch and we install locally. We can back it up that way not having to rely on MS keeping their servers open. Any other way to get SP1 or 2 please? Also upgrading to Vista it wants HD drivers that do not even exist. Thanks much

  • Hugo

    Im ok service pack 1 0_o so i need service pack 2 before i install service pack 3?

  • PhotoJoe55

    I have a compaq desktop with XP Home that will not complete the SP3 install. On auto update, it gets to the end then a box opens that says “unable to install SP3, press OK to undo the changes done to your computer. I tried manually, with a disk, in safe mode, with the firewall and A.V. off, no spybot or anything else on it, It keeps stopping at the same point- almost finished. I’m thinking about reinstalling XP. I have a disk, or there is a partition for restoring windows. I’d hate to format & reinstall just to have the same problem. Any ideas? Thanks….

  • PhotoJoe55