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Summary

This article describes five methods to troubleshoot an unsuccessful installation of Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3).

Symptoms

When you try to install Windows XP SP3, the installation fails, or you receive an error message.

Resolution

Use the following troubleshooting methods in the order in which they are presented.

Method 1: Exit all open programs, restart the computer, and then try to reinstall SP3

Sometimes an installation is unsuccessful because a previous operation was not completed. By restarting your computer, you close any pending computer functions and restart the process. To do this, follow these steps:
  1. Exit all open programs.
  2. Restart the computer.
  3. Wait until the computer finishes the restart process, and then log on to your account.
  4. Visit the following Microsoft Web site to reinstall Windows XP SP3:
    http://update.microsoft.com
  5. Click Express Install (Recommended).

    Note If the computer meets the conditions for the Windows XP SP3 update, this update will be automatically selected.
  6. Click Install.
  7. Review and accept the Microsoft Software License Terms, and then follow the instructions that are provided during the installation process to complete the installation.
If the installation is successful, you are finished.

If this method did not resolve the issue, go to method 2.

Method 2: Temporarily disable any antivirus, antispyware, and third-party firewall programs

Important These steps may increase your security risk. These steps may also make the computer or the network more vulnerable to attack by malicious users or by malicious software such as viruses. We recommend the process that this article describes to enable programs to operate as they are designed to or to implement specific program capabilities. Before you make these changes, we recommend that you evaluate the risks that are associated with implementing this process in your particular environment. If you decide to implement this process, take any appropriate additional steps to help protect the system. We recommend that you use this process only if you really require this process.

Installation failure may occur when a third-party program, such as antispyware, holds a file open or when it locks a file that the Windows XP SP3 installation program needs. Before you try to reinstall Windows XP SP3, follow these steps:
  1. Exit any open programs, and then restart the computer.
  2. After the computer has restarted, disable any antivirus, antispyware, and third-party firewall programs that may start during the startup process.

    You can usually do this from the program notification area. The program icons typically appear in the lower-right corner of the computer screen. To disable a program from the notification area, right-click the program icon, and then click an appropriate option to disable the program.

    Note If these options are not available, see the program documentation. Or, contact the program's manufacturer for instructions.
  3. After you disable these programs, visit the following Microsoft Web site to reinstall Windows XP SP3:
    http://update.microsoft.com
    Note If you have problems obtaining the service pack from Windows Update, obtain the stand-alone update package from the Download Center. To do this, go to method 3.
  4. Click Express Install (Recommended).

    Note If the computer meets the conditions for the Windows XP SP3 update, this update will be automatically selected.
  5. Click Install.
  6. Review and accept the Microsoft Software License Terms, and then follow the instructions that are provided during the installation process to complete the installation.
  7. After you have completed the Windows XP SP3 installation process, re-enable any antivirus, antispyware, and third-party firewall programs that you disabled in step 2.
If the installation is successful, you are finished.

If this method did not resolve the issue, go to method 3.

Method 3: Download and reinstall Windows XP SP3 from the Microsoft Download Center

If you have problems obtaining the service pack from Windows Update, obtain the stand-alone update package from the Download Center. To download the file, click the following link:
Collapse this imageExpand this image
Download
Download the Windows XP Service Pack 3 package now package now.
For more information about how to download Windows XP SP3 from the Microsoft Download Center, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
322389 How to obtain the latest Windows XP service pack
If the installation is successful, you are finished.

If this method did not resolve the issue, and you are comfortable with advanced troubleshooting, go to the "Advanced Troubleshooting Methods" section.

If you are not comfortable with advanced troubleshooting, go to the "Next Steps" section for information about how to contact Support.

ADVANCED TROUBLESHOOTING

The following troubleshooting methods are intended for advanced users. To resolve the issue and reinstall Windows XP SP3, first try method 1.

Method 1: Start the Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) and reinstall Windows XP SP3

Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) transfers files (downloads or uploads) between a client and server and provides progress information related to the transfers. If the BITS service is turned off, Windows Update may have problems delivering files to your computer.

To start the BITS service and reinstall Windows XP SP3, follow these steps:

Step 1: Start the BITS service

  1. Click Start, and then click Run.
  2. Type services.msc in the Open box, and then click OK.
  3. Right-click Background Intelligent Transfer Service, and then click Properties.
  4. On the General tab in the Startup type box, click Automatic, and then click Apply.
  5. In the Service status section of the properties dialog box, verify that the BITS service is started. If it is not started, click Start.
  6. Click Apply, and then click OK.

Step 2: Restart the computer and try to reinstall Windows XP SP3

  1. Exit all open programs.
  2. Restart the computer.
  3. Wait until the computer finishes the restart process, and then log on to your account.
  4. Visit the following Microsoft Web site to reinstall Windows XP SP3:
    http://update.microsoft.com
  5. Click Express Install (Recommended).

    Note If the computer meets the conditions for the Windows XP SP3 update, this update will be automatically selected.
  6. Click Install.
  7. Review and accept the Microsoft Software License Terms, and then follow the instructions that are provided during the installation process to complete the installation.
If the installation is successful, you are finished.

If this method did not resolve the issue, go to method 2.

Method 2: Turn off Automatic Updates, clear the Software Distribution folder, and then download Windows XP SP3

A file in the Software Distribution folder might have become corrupted or previous files might interfere with the installation of SP3. Clearing the Software Distribution folder helps prevent these problems.

Step 1: Turn off Automatic Updates

To have us turn off Automatic Updates for you, go to the "Fix it for me" section. If you would rather turn Automatic Updates off yourself, go to the "Let me fix it myself" section.
Fix it for me
To turn off Automatic Updates automatically, click the Fix this problem link. Then click Run in the File Download dialog box, and follow the steps in this wizard.
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assets fixit1
Fix this problem
Microsoft Fix it 50363
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assets fixit2


Note This wizard may be in English only; however, the automatic fix also works for other language versions of Windows.

Note If you are not on the computer that has the problem, you can save the automatic fix to a flash drive or to a CD, and then you can run it on the computer that has the problem.
Let me fix it myself
To turn off Automatic Updates yourself, follow these steps:
  1. Log on to the computer as an administrator or as a user who has administrative credentials. To verify that you are logged on to Windows with a user account that is a computer administrator, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
    http://support.microsoft.com/gp/admin
  2. Click Start, and then click Run.
  3. Copy and then paste (or type) services.msc in the Open box, and then click OK.
  4. Right-click Automatic Update, and then click Stop.

Step 2: Clear the Software Distribution Folder

  1. Click Start, and then click Run.
  2. Copy and then paste (or type) the following in the Open box, and then click OK:
    %windir%\SoftwareDistribution
  3. Right-click the Download folder, and then click Rename.
  4. Type Download.old as the new folder name, and then press ENTER.
  5. Exit Windows Explorer.

Step 3: Turn on Automatic Updates to download Windows XP SP3 again

To have us turn on Automatic Updates for you, go to the "Fix it for me" section. If you would rather turn Automatic Updates on yourself, go to the "Let me fix it myself" section.
Fix it for me
To turn on Automatic Updates automatically, click the Fix this problem link. Then click Run in the File Download dialog box, and follow the steps in this wizard.

Collapse this imageExpand this image
assets fixit1
Fix this problem
Microsoft Fix it 50362
Collapse this imageExpand this image
assets fixit2

Note This wizard may be in English only; however, the automatic fix also works for other language versions of Windows.

Note If you are not on the computer that has the problem, you can save the automatic fix to a flash drive or to a CD, and then you can run it on the computer that has the problem.
Let me fix it myself
To turn on Automatic Updates yourself, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, and then click Run.
  2. Copy and then paste (or type) services.msc in the Open box, and then click OK.
  3. In the Services console, right-click Automatic Update, and then click Start.
  4. Close the Services console.

Step 4: Reinstall Windows XP SP3

To reinstall Windows XP SP3, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
http://update.microsoft.com
If the installation is successful, you are finished.

If this method did not resolve the issue, go to the "Next Steps" section.

NEXT STEPS

If the methods in this article did not resolve the issue, you can use the Microsoft Customer Support Services Web site to find other solutions to your problem. Some services that the Microsoft Customer Support Services Web site provides include the following:
  • Searchable Knowledge Base: Search technical support information and self-help tools for Microsoft products.
  • Solution Centers: View product-specific frequently asked questions and support highlights.
  • Other Support Options: Use the Web to ask a question, contact Microsoft Customer Support Services, or provide feedback.
If you continue to have problems after you use these Microsoft Web sites or if you cannot find a solution to the problem on the Microsoft Support Services Web site, click the following link to contact Support.
http://support.microsoft.com/contactus

Properties

Article ID: 950718 - Last Review: May 17, 2013 - Revision: 8.0
Applies to
  • Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 3, when used with:
    • Microsoft Windows XP Professional
    • Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
Keywords: 
kbexpertiseinter kbhowto kbinfo kbfixme kbmsifixme KB950718

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