The long awaited, highly anticipated Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) will finally be available by Microsoft. For many, SP1 is the promise land for fixing those annoying performance, compatibility and slow file copy problems that have plague Vista since it's release.
Only time will tell.
Regardless of what happens, pre-cautions should be taken to ensure a successful upgrade to Vista SP1.
Below are five steps you should follow BEFORE installing SP1, that should help with achieving a successful upgrade and ensure no data is lost.
1 – Back It Up – Don't want to lose your data? Then a simple backup will guarantee that won't occur. Even if you perform backups on a daily basis, a quick backup before starting SP1 installation will make sure you have the most recent copy of your data.
If you never backed up a single byte of data, now is the time to get yourself in gear and get moving.
What type of backup should you perform?
Image – performing an image backup of your System will quickly get you up and running again to the exact point when the image was created. Image backups do not require the need to re-install Vista if a problem occurs during or after SP1 installation. Make sure you have an external drive (USB or HDD) available. If not, now is a good time to invest in a drive.
NOTE: don't get confused with the image disk provided by OEM's. That type of image will erase all data on your drive and revert your System back to the day of purchase.
Data – if your main concern is just data, then a simple copy or data sync is the fastest method. Make sure you copy the data to an external source, or at the very least, to a second partition on your hard drive if one exists (do not copy the data to the System partition).
Some free drive imaging solutions, System Rescue CD or DriveImage XML.
Some free sync utilities, DSynchronize or SyncToy.
Remember planning for the worse now, will save you a lot of time and frustration later.
2 – Take Inventory Snapshot – in the event something goes wrong and you need to re-install Vista, taking an inventory of your computer hardware and software will give you a documented snapshot of your System that includes hardware component information, system configuration, and what software has been installed.
You can use either or a combination of PC Wizard, System Information for Windows (SIW) or DriverMax to give you all the inventory and driver data needed for re-installation.
3 – Check For Incompatible Applications – verify that you have nothing installed on your System that's not compatible with Vista SP1. If you do, then it's best to update any applications, programs and utilities before installing SP1. You can check out what's on the list at Microsoft.
4 – Uninstall Previous Vista SP1 Installations – if your are one of the eager or ambitious testers who have already installed a beta or release candidate version of SP1, it's recommended to uninstall, before installing the final version.
To do so, go to:
- Start / Run and enter appwiz.cpl which will open Vista's Programs and Features.
- Then select, View installed updates (on left).
- Under Windows find and uninstall the Service Pack for Microsoft Windows (KB936330).
5 – Resolved Problems/Issues Now – if you have any type of current hardware or Operating System problems, now is the time fix them before upgrading. With the exception of minor bugs, Windows Service Pack upgrades are not made to fix problems, so don't expect miracles. You may be asking for more problems if you don't resolve them now.
Wrapping It Up
While Microsoft will make SP1 available via Automatic Updates, downloading the Service Pack (when it is available) and running it from your hard drive is your best bet. You'll avoid any interruptions or latency issues with your broadband connection that may cause a corrupt installation. Additionally since OS files are being updated, who wants the risk of your ISP fouling things up for you.
SP1 is a huge installation and install times can take anywhere from an hour or more, depending on the type of hardware you have. By downloading and running it locally, you may be able to decrease installation time.
For I.T. System Administrations the Windows Vista Service Pack 1 Deployment Guide is available and provides technical information, procedures, and recommendations for installing SP1 in a business or corporate environment.
Following these steps BEFORE installing Vista SP1 should help you achieve a smooth upgrade while preparing you for any unexpected problems.