Microsoft plans to release Service Pack 1 for Windows 7 this coming Wednesday, 22 February 2011, and it will be available via automatic updates as well as a separate download.
So how do you prepare for installing a service pack on your Windows 7 PC? For the most part a service pack upgrade is fairly simple and risk free. There are some risks because we are talking computer hardware, etc. but I have never heard of a service pack installation taking out a computer. Since it is always better to be safe rather than sorry you can take some steps to add a certain level of security to the process. You know that Warm Fuzzy.
First make sure that your system is already up to date with the latest patches, updates, etc. This should actually be part of your normal routine for your PC because it helps prevents problems each day.
The other thing you can do is back up your data. In fact, you should have a solid back up plan in place to protect your data anyway – not just when there is a new update or upgrade. If you have the ability to back up an image of your entire drive just before the service pack installation then that is even better. I have learned from personal experience that you do not want to realize you need a good backup plan when you need a backup due to a crash of your system. Ask my wife!
With everything up to date and either your data or an image of your hard disk backed up then it is time to install the service pack.
I have already installed the new service pack to all of the computers at my house and it was painless. I downloaded the file from TechNet and then started the installation on each PC. The entire process takes about an hour per computer although that time can fluctuate depending on the speed of your system.
In the most simplistic terms what happens when you install that service pack is that all of the updates that are on your system which are included in the service pack are first uninstalled. Next the service pack is applied which includes all of those updates that were previously removed. For the service pack 1 update on Windows 7 that means the only updates left behind on your system are those for January and February 2011.
Here you can see the SP1 entry and the remaining updates from January and February.
Sometimes service packs also contain new features but for Windows 7 this service pack does not add any new features to the operating system. This service pack brings all of the updates released for Windows since it was released to the public in October of 2009 and puts them into one package. Believe me a future clean installation of Windows 7 will be much easier when you just have to apply one file to catch up 15 months worth of updates.
So take a deep breath, update your system and back up your data so your ready to sail through the installation of service pack 1 for your Windows 7 installation.
Let us know how it goes in the comments.