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Windows Service Pack Blocker Tool Kit
January 1, 2008

As big a believer as I am in making sure a system is up to date with Service Packs and other updates, I'm an equally big believer that absolutely no updates of any kind should be introduced into a system without the users permission. This is especially relevant now with Service Pack 3 for XP being released in the near future. In spite of the folly of doing so, I know that many users, if not the majority, have Windows Update set to automatically download and install updates, and that will include Service Pack 3.  That's just giving Microsoft carte blanche to install whatever they deem necessary on your system. I'm simply not comfortable allowing that to happen, and I know a lot of users feel the same way. Theoretically you can set Windows Update so you are prompted before updates are downloaded and then be prompted again before they are installed, but after the 2007 incident where the Windows Update settings were ignored and an update installed in spite of user preferences, I simply don't have any faith my preferences will be respected.

That brings us to the Windows Service Pack Blocker Tool Kit, a blocking tool available for organizations that would like to temporarily prevent installation of Service Pack updates through Windows Update. The blocker tool will not prevent SP3 from being installed via CD/DVD or the stand-alone download package of SP3, but it does prevent it from being installed via Windows Update. The only caveat I'm aware of is the tool is only valid for 12 months following the general availability of Windows XP Service Pack 3.

Installing the Windows Service Pack Blocker Tool Kit

Installation is very straightforward, but I'll run through the steps here so you can decide if you want to go forward with the installation. Obviously the first step is to obtain the tool kit. Go to Windows Service Pack Blocker Tool Kit and download the file SPBlockerTools.EXE. It can be saved anywhere on the system that's convenient. Once you have the file;

  • Navigate to where you saved the file and double click SPBlockerTools.EXE

  • Double click the SPBlockerTools.EXE file and accept the license agreement.

  • Use the [Browse] button and select a location to place the files that will be extracted. I used the same folder on the desktop where I saved the downloaded file. Click [OK] to begin the extraction.

  • Three files will be extracted to the folder. Since I used the same folder I used for the download, the SPBlockerTools.EXE file is also present. All three extracted files do essentially the same thing. Which one you use to set the blocking depends of your organization. For this tutorial I'm going to use the signed executable file, SPBlockingTool.exe, which is best suited to home and small business users.

  • Double click on SPBlockingTool.exe and in a few moments you should see the screen below appear confirming that the action successfully completed.

That's it. As long as you see the screen above, the Service Pack Blocking Tool has been installed and SP3 will be blocked from being downloaded and installed automatically via Windows Update.

Uninstalling the Windows Service Pack Blocker Tool Kit

That's all well and good for the installation, but what actually happened when the tool was run and what happens if you change your mind and want to reverse the process so SP3 can be installed via Windows Update.

If you read the Windows Service Pack Blocker Tool Kit page it explains that when the executable is run it creates a registry key that blocks or unblocks the SP3 update. The screen capture below shows he registry before the executable is run.

After the executable is run, you can see in the screen capture below a new key named [WindowsUpdate] has been added along with a Binary Value called [DoNotAllowSP] with the value set to 1. This value of '1' is what actually blocks SP3 from being automatically downloaded.

Let's say you change your mind and want to allow SP3 to be downloaded via Windows Update. The easiest way to reverse the process is to manually delete the [DoNotAllowSP] binary entry in the registry. You don't need to delete the [WindowsUpdate] key created earlier. Just leave it there; it won't hurt anything. If you're a command prompt maven and want to reverse the process that way, just make the SPBlockingTool.exe entry with the /U switch, as shown below.

Whichever way you decide to go, the screen capture below shows the end result after the process has been reversed.

 

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- Reminder -

For many months now I've been posting a reminder about 'Patch Tuesday' or 'Second Tuesday' as it has come to be known when Microsoft releases the latest round of updates for Windows XP and other products.

As always, I strongly suggest you read about any update prior to installation, especially updates carrying a less than 'Critical' rating, and have a current system and data backup available in case it's necessary to restore the system to a pre-patch condition.

More info at Microsoft Security Bulletin Advance Notification

Important Information

The Elder Geek sites contain many articles and suggestions for modifying the Windows operating system. I've tried these tweaks and tips on many systems. Sometimes they work, sometimes not. The point is, ensure you have a current, tested backup of all system and data files and understand how to restore the system in case something goes very wrong. You can still yell at me, but I assume no responsibility for your actions and use of the information and disclaim any legal responsibility for any consequences of such actions.

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