Thanks a lot, Micro$oft, for SP2 (not)

By Murray Bourne, 01 Apr 2005

Take my advice - don't bother with Service Pack 2 for WinXP, unless you are very brave. I just wasted 2 days of my life trying to get my computer to boot after installing SP2. The brief, but gory details...

  • Okay, so I didn't update all the drivers first - but I am left wondering whether a user should have to worry about that...
  • SP2 - all 76 MB of it - took over 5 hours (!) to download and install using a wireless broadband connection - and with little information for the user where it was up to and how long it would take. Just forget it if you are on dialup.
  • After the install finished, it rebooted the PC and then announced that it had to check the disk for consistency. At the end of that, it reported no errors and proceeded to reboot again. Consistency check again, reboot again. Consistency check again, reboot again. It was not looking good.
  • I looked at several forums on the Web to see if anyone else reported the same thing, but no...
  • Then I tried to boot in Safe Mode - no luck, it just did the consistency check and rebooted, again and again. I tried several of the other possible modes (debugging, go back to previous setting that worked, etc) but all did the same thing.
  • I started to panic at this point, as it was looking hopeless. I pulled the HD out and tried it in another PC. It also went through a consistency check, found some errors, fixed them and then booted normally.
  • I hoped at this point that it would be right to go back on the original machine, bit nope - same behaviour.
  • So after a lot of messing around and some good suggestions from a colleague (thanks Joe!), I finally managed to make some progress.
  • At one point, I even managed to get it to go into Safe Mode - things were looking up.
  • The CD was not working so I couldn't boot from the CD-ROM. Eventually I got that working and got into Recovery Console, but without knowing what was actually wrong, it was not obvious whether I should fix the boot sector or whatever.
  • It was getting stuck each time on "iomdisk.sys" which is for an Iomega drive of some sort - and I have never had one on that PC. One forum said just rename this file and all should be fine. It wasn't - it still got hung up on that file.
  • So I went into the XP CD-ROM's installation and chose "Repair existing installation of WinXP". It fiddled around for about 30 min, gave no report at the end telling the user what it had done and what was going to happen, and proceeded to copy millions of files from the CD. I realised it was going to do an install and figured fine, go ahead.
  • About half way through the install it just froze. Dead. Nothing. Kaput. It was beginning to look like a long night... I turned off the power and started again. And guess what - it did a bloody consistency check again...! But after that, it resumed the installation, churned through the whole thing again (it takes about 40 minutes) and finally gave me WinXP back again.

I have lost Internet connecction (as I expected) and I imagine several other things will have stopped working, but at least it booted! 🙂 🙂

So I can't say I have enjoyed this user experience. I did come across a cool untility (SpeedFan) and learnt what S.M.A.R.T. tells you about your sick HD.

What else have I learned? SP1 is just fine, thank you. I won't try again with SP2.

See the 1 Comment below.

One Comment on “Thanks a lot, Micro$oft, for SP2 (not)”

  1. Murray says:

    Update: It now doesn't even boot at all - not even as far as doing the consistency check.

    So I have ordered a new PC which I was contemplating for a while anyway (the sick one is 5 years old, after all...)

    And yes, Cole, I considered a Mac. Maybe next round.

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