Service Packs are collections of security updates and stability enhancements from Microsoft. With Windows Update in Windows Vista and 7 you must download and install these one by one - first Service Pack 1, then Service Pack 2, etc.
If all prerequisite packages are installed, you may be able to install Windows Vista Service Pack 2 without installing SP1 first.
"Service Pack" is often abbreviated to "SP".
The latest Service Pack for Windows Vista is Service Pack 2. There will be no more SP-s.
The latest Service Pack for Windows 7 is Service Pack 1. There will be no further ones.
Right-click Computer icon on Desktop or in Start menu and choose Properties. Or use the keyboard shortcut Windows Key+PAUSE for opening System Properties.
See what's written on the Windows edition line. First comes Windows Vista or 7 edition name (such as Ultimate, Home Basic, etc), then comes copyright information and then comes Service Pack information.
If you already have Windows Vista Service Pack 2 or Windows 7 Service Pack 1 installed, you can safely skip this article.
If you have Service Pack 1 in Windows Vista or no line about Service Pack at all (either in Vista or 7), continue reading this article.
Those with no Service Packs installed should also take note if their Windows is a 32-bit or a 64-bit edition. See the line System type for this.
Close System Properties window by clicking OK.
Before applying a Windows Vista or Windows 7 Service Pack, please follow steps in the following tutorials - otherwise the installation might fail because of some trivial reason such as messed up files on the system drive or not enough free space on disk, or some malware blocking installation:
- Check disks in Windows;
- Free up disk space in Windows (you need up to 5 gigabytes of free space to install a Windows Vista or Windows 7 Service Pack);
- Full anti-virus scan, such as Microsoft Security Essentials on-demand scan;
- Optionally, create a disk image backup. Windows 7 users can also use the built-in backup tool for this: Configure automatic backups in Windows 7.
Both Windows Vista and 7 have a long list of required software that must be installed before a Service Pack can be downloaded and applied. Therefore it is necessary to install all available important updates first.
For clean installs or those installs that have not received any updates for a long time (6 or more months), it is best to use the WSUS Offline Update for downloading and installing all prerequisites, Service Packs, and latest security updates.
If you do not have Windows Update open yet, start by clicking the Start button or pressing WINDOWS KEY, then type "update" in the Search box and click Windows Update.
Click Check for updates on the left to see if new updates are available. This applies even if Windows Update claims "No important updates available".
Please note that update search might take up to 2 hours to complete, especially when your PC has a clean install or has not run Windows Update for a long time.
If Windows Update will display some error page instead, try restarting your computer first. If this does not help, please see instructions on fixing Windows Update problems.
If this is the first time you run Windows Update on Windows Vista or 7, you might see a lot of updates available. Click the Install Updates button after the search is complete.
A large number of available updates also means that some updates cannot be installed because of conflicts - so a few failed updates are completely normal in such cases.
Please note that Windows Vista Service Pack 2 or Windows 7 Service Pack 1 will not appear on the list of updates until prerequisites have been installed! And remember, Windows Vista Service Pack 1 will not appear on this list anymore - if Windows Vista has no Service Packs installed, you must download and install Service Pack 1 manually!
Click Continue or Yes in the User Account Control dialog.
Wait until the installation is complete and restart your computer if required. Repeat the process until you see just one important update available for Windows 7 or Windows Vista with Service Pack 1 installed, or no important updates available for Windows Vista with no Service Packs installed.
To see which important and optional updates are available, click either <number> important updates are available or <number> optional updates are available.
All important updates are selected by default and there is no need to deselect them. These updates must be installed in order to receive Windows Vista or Windows 7 Service Packs.
To see and select other updates, click the Optional tab on the left. Then select the updates you want to install and click OK. Then click Install updates and click Continue in User Account Control dialog.
In case Windows Vista Service Pack 1 and further updates have been installed, but Service Pack 2 is not displayed no matter what, please see the Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 service packs are not available for installation through Windows Update article at Microsoft's web site for common problems and solutions.
If Windows 7 Service Pack 1 fails to appear, please see the You do not have the option of downloading Windows 7 SP1 when you use Windows Update to check for updates article at Microsoft's web site for common problems and solutions.
To download Windows Vista Service Pack 2 manually, use one of the links below (click Run in Internet Explorer download prompt and then click Continue in User Account Control prompt after the download is complete):
- Windows Vista, 32-bit and 64-bit versions Five Language Standalone package for English, French, German, Japanese, or Spanish (Traditional) - about 400 MB
- Windows Vista, 32-bit and 64-bit versions All Languages ISO - about 1.7 GB
Please remember that you will still have to install all updates available before applying Service Pack 2, as some of them are required for installing the Service Pack!
If you downloaded the 1.7 GB (gigabyte) ISO image of Windows Vista SP2, burn the contents to an empty DVD using some free program such as CDBurnerXP. Alternatively, many free third-party compression and decompression tools (7-zip, for example) allow extracting the contents of the ISO file to a folder on hard drive/SSD or on an external drive.
After creating the DVD or extracting files to a drive, launch setup.exe to begin installing Windows Vista SP1.
To see if you have 32-bit or 64-bit Windows Vista, use the keyboard shortcut Windows Key+Break and see System type in System section.
To download Windows 7 Service Pack 1 manually, click the ISO image download link.
This downloads the 1.9 GB (gigabyte) ISO image that you can burn to an empty DVD using Windows Disc Burner or some free program such as CDBurnerXP. Alternatively, many free third-party compression and decompression tools (7-zip, for example) allow extracting the contents of the ISO file to a folder on hard drive/SSD or some external drive.
After creating the DVD or extracting files, launch setup.exe to start installing Windows 7 SP1.
Please remember that you will still have to install all updates available before applying Service Pack 1, as some of them are required for installing the Service Pack.
To check if your computer has 32-bit or 64-bit Windows 7 installed, use the keyboard shortcut Windows Key+Break and see System type in System section.
If Service Pack fails to install, please see the You do not have the option of downloading Windows 7 SP1 when you use Windows Update to check for updates article at Microsoft's web site for common problems and solutions.
In the Windows Update window, click Install updates button and click Continue or Yes in User Account Control dialog. The Service Pack will then be downloaded. This might take up to an hour, depending on your connection speed.
In Windows 7, the first part of the process will run in the same Windows Update window.
In Windows Vista, Welcome to Windows Vista Service Pack window opens. Click Next.
You can read the really fuzzy license terms if you want to (in short: you are responsible for everything ). Click I accept the license terms and then click Next.
Finally, click Install.
The installation of any Service Pack can easily take an hour or even more. You can safely do something else meanwhile.
After the installation is complete, click Restart now in the Windows Update window.
You expected the process to be complete, right? Not just yet - after you've been logged off, the installation will continue and it will go on after restarting your computer. Just wait for the process to complete, it still might take an hour now.
After Windows Vista or Windows 7 Service Pack installation is really complete, you will see Welcome Screen. Log on and re-run Windows Update to install all other updates released after the Service Pack.
If you just installed Windows Vista Service Pack 1, you must continue by installing some prerequisite updates to see Windows Vista Service Pack 2 available in Windows Update.
You might see a large increase in free disk space after installing Windows Vista Service Pack 2, this happens because old System Restore Points are deleted before installing SP2.
If everything works correctly after installing a Service Pack, you can free some disk space by removing Service Pack Backup Files using Disk Cleanup. Please wait for at least a week before deleting the backup files - this ensures everything runs smoothly.
If you have not yet configured automatic updates for all Microsoft products, read the Configure Windows Update article.
And last, but not least: do set up automatic backups just in case something goes wrong in the future.