Preparing Your System for Windows Vista SP2

Earlier this month, Microsoft delivered the first release candidate of Windows Vista SP2, meaning that the final, public edition of the update will be posted for download soon. The new release features some sweeping improvements, including Windows Search 4.0, native Blu-Ray recording capabilities, easier Wi-Fi configuration and more.

Unfortunately, many users are likely to encounter a variety issues, such as startup problems, application crashes, performance hiccups and more, after the update. Here’s a run-down of the best methods for preventing these issues and making your update experience a smooth one:

Backup First and foremost, a full backup should be performed prior to any major system update. Your best bet is to use a tool that can create a complete, bootable backup of your primary volume. If major problems ensue post-update, you will have working copy of your current applications and documents that can be put into use immediately. Acronis True Image is one such tool. Alternatively, you can use Windows Vista’s built-in backup tools.

Check for spyware Next, eliminate any spyware or malware that might interfere with the update process or create conflicts after your system is updated. Various free or inexpensive tools, including Ad-Aware and Spybot are available for this purpose.

Kill any unnecessary startup processes Eliminating any unnecessary startup processes, or removing all third-party startup processes, can reduce compatibility headaches that often follow major system updates. Launch the System Configuration utility by clicking “Windows” then entering “System Configuration” in the search bar and pressing return. Click on the “Startup” tab and remove any unnecessary items, then restart.

Update drivers Check manufacturers’ websites for the latest driver editions for any third-party devices that are connected to your system. Many manufacturers have already updated their drivers for basic compatibility with Vista SP2.

Disconnect any unnecessary devices Aside from your keyboard, mouse, monitor and network connectivity, virtually all external device should be disconnected from your system right before you install Vista SP2. Disconnecting these devices can preclude a variety of issues. Once the update is applied, you can reconnect the devices one by one and check for compatibility issues.

Uninstall any pre-release Vista updates If you installed the Vista SP2 release candidate or a prior beta, uninstall it right before running the Vista SP2 update. Open Control Panel, click Programs, then click “View Installed Updates.” Look for the Microsoft Windows list, then right-click the beta or pre-release service pack and select uninstall.

Use the standalone updater Users have reported fewer problems when using full standalone Vista service pack updates instead of obtaining the updates through Windows Update. Microsoft will post a download link when Vista SP2 is officially released.

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