[Fix] Windows XP SP3 Setup Error: Cannot Update a Checked (Debug) System with a Free (Retail) Version of Service Pack 3

As we all know Microsoft has released the final version of Windows XP SP3 to public and its available via Automatic Updates, Windows Updates and Downloads Center.

We have posted about it at following link:

Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) RTM Released, Download Links Inside

I have received a few mails mentioning a strange problem which occurs while installing SP3 in Windows XP. A few people told me that whenever they try to install SP3 in Windows XP, Windows shows following error message:

Service Pack 3 Setup cannot update a checked (debug) system with a free (retail) version of Service Pack 3, or vice versa.

The reason behind this problem is that the update package installs retail bits on retail builds and checked bits on checked builds. But you can spoof Windows updates in order to install retail bits on checked builds and vice versa.

If you are also facing the same problem, then follow these simple steps and your problem should be solved:

1. Type regedit in RUN dialog box and press Enter. It'll open Registry Editor. Now go to following key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion

2. In right-side pane look for a String "CurrentType". Double-click on it and change its value to Checked as shown in following screenshot:


If the value is already set to Checked, then change it to Free and click on OK.

3. Exit registry editor and again try to install SP3. Now it should install without any problem.

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Posted in: Troubleshooting, Windows XP

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  • Worked like magic. Thanks guy!

  • Great man saved hell lot of time.. works perfectly

  • It installed, thanks guy! Bookmark this page.

  • Great! It worked! Thanks.

  • My Problem is I've installed XP SP3 and it works well at start.when install some programs which are all clean and virus tested.A small problem takes place and its in the system properties information which we check by windows key+ Break key pressed.Its like this Microsoft Windows Xp Professional version 2002 ........... the dotted lines here i mention means missing CSD Version Service Pack 3 which gets erased from the registry also.Additionally to this ntdll.dll and some other dlls gets corrupted but the computer boots up very well it runs and functions too well.
    Please help me how to dis allow of getting this problem solve. Once this information of service pack gets erased or corrupted. Then what else you do like system restore or back up or over write the registry keys or last good configuration run it seems the problem persists in its own fashion. The problem of this type leads to disallow automatic updates from microsoft, new higher versions comptatible with sp3 don't install like java updates, firefox 23.0, .NET 3.5 4.0 4.5 programs and others. Only i do is format the partition and reinstall the XP SP3 version which helps out otherwise the problem remains in the system.Kindly help me out.

  • VG

    ^^ It seems some software corrupts the service pack information stored in registry. Currently we cant find which software it is but in future if you reinstall Windows, then install your software one by one and check System Properties every time. It'll help you in finding out which software is causing this problem.

  • It's ok. great work

  • it worked .. Thanks man

  • You're a genius, man.

  • Dude thanks so much, I got a custom built computer off Craigslist and I needed to update my 550 ti driver. Im gonna use GeForce Experience to do that and it says I need service pack 3. I got it but this exact problem comes up. I follow the very simple steps and now its fixed. Thanks so much man you are a genius!

  • Thanks Alot ...Itm Works,,

  • cool,it worked ,thanks...

  • it dose't work!!!

  • Wow ...It works.Thanks so much.

  • oddly enough, I had to set it to Checked to make it work, thanks for the help though!

  • Thank you. I spent most of the day trying to find a copy of SP3 (no longer available on Microsoft.com) and when I did finally get one to download (filehippo), it stalled out with this error message. I was about to throw the box in the trash.

  • Worked like a charm! Muchas Gracias!

  • Thanks. Same as above, couldn't find SP3 on Microsoft sites, eventually found it on Filehippo and then it failed to run with this message.
    I had to change it from "Multiprocessor Free" to "Checked" to get it to work.

  • Cool. thanks man saved me......

  • This TOTALLY worked, mine was a Uniprocessor Free, so I changed it to free as suggested by another site, changed it to your suggested "Checked", worked like a dream!
    Thank you

  • Changed to "Checked" and it works. XP is still needed in some places :)

  • It worked.

  • great help... you have earned your place in Valhalla!

  • Thank you for the solution! It works perfectly without restart! Very nice! Thank you a lot !!!

  • Thanks ALOT God bless you

  • Thanks bro helped....im really happy it worked ... thanks a lot

  • Doesn't work!
    [XP pro]
    Changed the "Multiproccessor free" to "Checked", run the SP3, installed ok, restarted as needed but from this point and on my pc keeps hanging [after the XP logo, before login], then restarting, hanging, restarting and so on.
    I changed the "Checked" to "Multiproccessor free" with no results.
    I finally rolled back to SP2.

    Any ideas?

  • Changed to Free didnt work. changed to Checked and it worked

  • IT's worked after when i change to "checked"

  • helpful

  • Thank you

  • You guys Rock!! Thanks for this easy Fix..

  • I've spent a lot of time troubleshooting and doing research. This is the only procedure that worked. Really helpful. Thank you.

  • thnks dude!

  • thanks bro its working. good job

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