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9/16/2004
06:24 PM
Fred Langa
Fred Langa
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Langa Letter: How To Save An Hour (Or More) On XP Installs

Prepatch your XP Setup CD once, and never have to install SP2 again. Fred Langa walks you through a 16-step process.

Our recent discussions about Windows XP's SP2 show that the huge patch is working fine for most users; and that with caution (make a full backup or image beforehand; read and follow all of Microsoft's pre-SP2 installation tips), even potentially troublesome installations can be handled smoothly.

But not swiftly: The update process can take a considerable chunk of your workday, even if you don't count the download time or install from the free SP2 CD. Twenty to 40 minutes seems about the norm for installs on faster PCs; older, slower systems can take well over an hour.

There's not a lot that can be done about that, but you can achieve a huge time savings on future installations and reinstallations of XP by integrating SP2's files with those of your original XP setup CD. Your hybrid install CD will work exactly as the original one did, even to the point of using the same 25-character Product Key, but it will be completely up to date with all patches and updates, up to and including SP2. Any system you set up with the hybrid CD will be pre-patched to current levels, in one step. You'll be totally up to date from the start, rather than facing maybe an hour or more of additional downloads to bring the new installation or reinstallation to SP2 levels.

Creating a new hybrid installation CD is surprisingly easy--a point and click exercise with only a few geeky parts. And it works very well. In fact, in most ways, this method of pre-patching an installation CD is basically the same process software vendors use to produce an updated version of their installation software; indeed, starting this fall, Microsoft will offer for sale fully prepatched versions of XP on CD. But you don't have to wait: You can create your own totally legitimate prepatched copy of XP on CD today.

Before you begin, you'll need the following:

1) A legitimate XP setup CD (almost any variation will work: Pro or Home; retail or OEM; full install CD or upgrade CD; etc.)

2) A CD burner, blank CD, and software capable of creating a bootable CD (eg. Nero, Roxio, etc.)

3) About a gigabyte of free space on your hard drive for temporary file storage. (This space can be recovered after you've made your new CD.)

Ready? Let's dig in, step by step:

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