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Applying Service Packs In Windows 2000

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Applying Service Packs in Windows 2000 Has Never Been Easier!

As we’ve mentioned elsewhere on our Web site, Microsoft has indeed made applying Service Packs easier in its latest release of Windows NT. When Microsoft introduced Windows 2000, one of its goals was to simplify the process of updating and applying hot fixes to the NT operating system. If you’re a Windows NT 4.0 user, you have undoubtedly notices that most Windows NT 4.0 service packs cause more problems than they fix. Our experience with installing and using Service Pack 1 (SP1) with Windows 2000 has proven to us that Microsoft is doing everything possible make their goal a reality.

There are still some issues to be careful of, especially in those areas where you have applied a Hot Fix only to find out that it was broken by the application of Service Pack 1. By trying to make the application of Service Packs easier and less troublesome, Microsoft has found that in concatenating or chaining together service packs and hot fixes, you can undo some of the security fixes that the hot fixes were supposed to fix in the first place. Microsoft has released a tool and patch that will allow you to diagnose and eliminate the effects of the anomalies in the packaging of hot fixes for English language versions of Microsoft® Windows 2000. Under certain circumstances, these anomalies could cause the removal of some hot fixes, which could include some security patches, from a Windows 2000 system. You can learn more about that by clicking here.

Not only is this first Windows 2000 service pack streamlined, Windows 2000 itself is service pack “aware”. When you install a service pack, Windows 2000 remembers that it has been installed as well as the installation point from which you installed it, and whether it was from a CD, server share or a “Slipstreamed” installation point. Any time you install a new service or component, Windows will get the files it needs from both the original Windows 2000 media as well as any updated files from the service pack installation point. No longer will you have to repeatedly reapply a service pack after installing new services or components. And it gets even easier!

“Slipstream, what does that mean?” Aside from easy of use, this first Windows 2000 Service Pack comes with the ability to “slipstream” the service pack into a distribution point. In essence, this means you can apply the service pack directly to a copy of the original installation files on either a network share or second drive. Then, when you install from that “slipstreamed” installation point, the newly setup machine will already have the service pack installed. You can read more about slipstreamed installations by clicking here! There is a minor glitch or two though, so make sure that you read the segments we have provided regarding slipstreaming and you won’t have any problems.

What’s in the Service Pack?
Service Pack 1 provides an assortment of 272 bug fixes and performance enhancements. It is available either on a CD-ROM, or you can download it from Microsoft’s Web site. Installing the entire service pack requires as much as 87MB of disk space, therefore unless you have a high-bandwidth Internet connection you may want to consider purchase the CD-ROM given its low price. You can see each of the fixes and enhancements in the Service Pack by clicking here.

To install this new Service Pack, you’ll need a considerable amount of disk space on the partition where Windows 2000 resides. Microsoft provides the total space requirements as noted in the chart below. If you should choose to uninstall Service Pack 1, you’ll need even more space,  345MB total for Windows 2000 Professional, and 445MB for Windows 2000 Server or Advanced Server.

*Space Requirements – Windows 2000 Professional, courtesy of Microsoft Corporation

Service Pack only   10 MB   10 MB (for the Service Pack)
130 MB (for the files normally stored on the Service Pack CD)


  10 MB 140 MB
Working space (this space used during installation only and does not contribute to overall space requirement for your computer)    40 MB 190 MB
Un-installation files*  205 MB 205 MB


 215 MB 345 MB

Installing Service Pack 1

The easiest method to install Service Pack 1 is to use the Service Pack CD which can be purchase from Microsoft for U.S. $14.95 (CDN $19.95) plus $5 shipping and handling (CDN $7.50). It’s available in English and French. 

When you insert the CD, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) pops up, displaying a Web page that contains information about the service packs features and a link to launch update.exe, which starts the actual installation from the CD-ROM.

If you download the service pack, select the language you need (English is the default), and click Next. From there you can choose between an Express Installation or a Network Installation. While the fastest is the Express Installation option (14MB), as it downloads only those service pack elements necessary to upgrade the Windows 2000 components you’ve already installed on your machine, it creates problems for components that you may want to add later as the update files may not be available. If you may want to add other components later, then you will want the complete service pack (87MB). This is especially true if you plan on creating a network or second disk installation point. To get the entire 87MB download, you’ll need to choose the Network Installation option. Regardless of whether you decide to purchase the CD or download the entire 87MB, before you begin the actual installation of Service Pack 1, take a few minutes and review the README file (i.e., readmesp.htm).

When you insert the CD, you will see a link to the README file appear in the “What is on this CD section of the page that appears when you insert the CD-ROM. If you choose to take the download, you’ll find the same information at Microsoft’s Web site, “Microsoft® Windows® 2000 Professional, Windows 2000 Server, and Windows 2000 Advanced Server Readme for Service Pack 1 (READMESP.HTM).

To Run The Installer:

  1. Click on update.exe
    • If the Service Pack CD starts automatically, you will see a link on the page.
    • If the CD doesn’t start, you’ll find update.exe in the update folder.
    • If you downloaded the single file, it decompress and execute update.exe for you.

  2. Next, you’ll be asked to “Accept the License Agreement” as well as whether you want to backup your files. It’s a good idea to do so!

  3. Now click Install.
  4. The installer will cause all of the files being replaced to be backed up (providing you do not uncheck the box).
  5. The next window you will see will show you the installation progress of the service pack.

  6. When the installer finishes, you’ll then be asked to reboot the machine by clicking Restart.

  7. Just click “Restart: to reboot the system, and you’re done!

Essentially, installing Service Pack 1 on Windows 2000 is very much like Windows NT 4.0, only better.

  1. The installer copies the Service Pack files locally for you use to update newly added components later. If you just want to expand the service pack and not perform the actual installation, you can use the /x switch as you could with the service packs in Windows NT 4.0.
  2. The installer will automatically back up the current file set and registry information on the local computer as long as you leave the box checked when the installer opens.
  3. The installer reads the system catalog and modifies the Windows File Protection service (WFP) to reflect the application of the new Service Pack files.
  4. The installer will updates the encryption files according to the currently installed encryption level of the operating system (56 or 128). There are no separate versions of the service pack for different encryption levels.
  5. The installer will update all of the necessary system files for all of the included fixes and updates. You are not given a choice as to what to fix or update.
  6. The installer updates the registry with any new or modified registry keys that are necessary for the changes being made and updates applied.
  7. The installer adds a new file that Setup and other components can use to install device drivers without needing access to a network share, other installation point or the Service Pack CD. It then updates Drvindex.inf with the new drivers contained in the Service Pack driver .cab file.
  8. An important change is that the installer updates the Layout.inf file, which identifies which files to install from the original installation media and which files to install from the Service Pack installation point, including a CD. This includes the writing of a special ServicePackSourcePath registry key, which Setup uses to identify the location of the Service Pack media when it needs future files.
  9. Unlike previous service packs, this one creates a special $NTServicePackUninstall$ folder to store the uninstall information and compress it. Unfortunately though, this is if NTFS only.
  10. The installer also creates a special log file, “svcpack.log”, that identifies the command line used to initiate the Update.exe program and which files were actually copied to the computer by the Update.exe program.
  11. The installer finishes the process by making an entry in the event log about the success of the service pack installation.

When the Installation has Completed

When the installation of the Service Pack has completed, there are a couple of ways to determine that the service pack has been installed correctly. The first is to use winver to confirm that Service Pack 1 has been installed.

  • Open a command prompt and type:
  • The other is a neat little tool by John Savill called WinInfo (Windows Information v.2.3). It provides allot more information about the installation as you can see from this example.

  • As you can see, there’s a wealth of information provided.
    *Product Type Windows NT WorkstationWindows NT ServerWindows Terminal Server Edition Windows NT Enterprise EditionWindows 2000 ProfessionalWindows 2000 Server Windows 2000 Advanced ServerWindows 2000 DataCenter

    *(DC) means Domain Controller

    **Installation Type Full VersionTime Limited Version (nnn days)

    Not for Resale Version

You can find Windows Information version 2.3 at John Savill’s Web site, or you can download it now:

Download Windows (WinInfo) Information v.2.3

Download Windows (WinInfo) Information v.2.3 (Alternate)

Closing Comments:

If you apply Service Pack 1 to a system that only has 56-bit encryption installed, Service Pack 1 will not give you the opportunity to upgrade encryption to 128-bit, it will install 56-bit. If you decide that you want to upgrade your system to 128-bit encryption, you can download and add the High Encryption Pack.

Network Administrators
If you need to apply Service Pack 1 throughout a corporate LAN, you may want to consider using Microsoft’s Systems Management Server (SMS) or possibly an integrated (slipstreamed) installation. You can review more about these methods here, as well as review the “Windows 2000 Service Pack Installation and Deployment Guide” (spdeploy.doc), which can find on the Service Pack 1 CD in the \tools directory. If you opt to download the network version of the service pack, you can still review the “Windows 2000 Service Pack Installation and Deployment Guide” online.

Hot Fix Program
The deployment guide very briefly describes a new hotfix.exe program that you can use to install patch files that the service pack doesn’t include. Many people are concerned that hotfixes previously applied will be damaged or reversed by Service Pack 1, and so is Microsoft. While hotfix.exe is a useful tool, you may want to check out Qfecheck.exe. You can review more about Qfecheck here, and you can review more about hotfix.exe here. Beyond Qfecheck.exe and hotfix.exe, there are a couple of ways to check whether a hot fix has been applied which can be used in both Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000. See Installing and Checking Hotfixes.

You can use Hotfix.exe to check the current service pack revision level and determine whether a patch is older than the service pack. If the patch is older, hotfix.exe won’t apply it. Command-line switches and other tools let you list the applied patches. This list is important, as multiple patches and hotfixes must be uninstalled in the reverse order of installation.

Important Issues in Service Pack 1
Microsoft’s articles about Service Pack 1 refer to such topics as Microsoft DirectX performance improvements, memory leak fixes, a new PC Card driver that supports interrupt sharing, and a fix for high CPU usage when notebook computers run on battery power. This service pack also resolves the tendency of Windows 2000 to lose a network connection after a computer resumes working from hibernation, improves Network Load Balancing performance, and repairs problems with internal router file transfers. In addition, there are several JScript and Java Virtual Machine bug fixes and resolution of problems with international characters, fonts, and formats for dates, times, and currencies. Improvements to security include protection against cookie theft, resolution of the clear-text password recognition problem, and prevention of the loss of cryptographic keys when the system memory runs low.

There are no new operating system features or component upgrades in this service pack. The IE version that is on your system when you start the installation of service pack 1 remains in place when your finished. One peculiar problem is that, if you upgrade Internet Explorer before you install service pack 1, you won’t be able to uninstall the IE upgrade after you install the service pack. The improved Telnet version that has included with the Services for UNIX add-on kit are not in the service pack.

If we have missed something, please let us know. Likewise, if you found this information useful, please let us know that as well.

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