Solution to Windows Error 3

Solution to Windows Error 3

When you install Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3), you may encounter an error message similar to the ones shown below:

“Service Pack 3 setup error. Access is denied.”

“Service Pack 3 setup error. Service Pack installation did not complete.”

Cause of the Error

The above Windows error 3 messages are generated when the service pack is unable to update one or more registry keys. This, in turn, occurs when the permissions of one or more registry keys are restricted by certain programs that change the system access control list (SACL) in the registry disallowing the administrator account the right to alter the restricted registry keys. As the service pack installer runs under an administrator account, it is unable to access the restricted registry keys and the error occurs.  

Resolution Method

To resolve the above listed Windows error 3 messages, use the following methods in the order in which they are presented.

Note: To complete these methods, you need to log in with an administrator account.

Method 1 – Download and install Windows XP Service Pack (SP3) from the Microsoft Download Centre

First, close all running programs on your computer and restart it. Restarting the computer may unlock any file or files that a running program may have locked.

Next, if in the first instance you tried to install Windows XP SP3 via Windows Update and it didn’t work, download the full Window XP SP3 package from the Microsoft Download Centre and then try to install it.

If you still receive the error when you try to install the Windows XP SP3, go to method 2.

Method 2 – Disable or close your Antivirus or Antispyware program and then install Windows XP SP3

Warning: Disabling or closing your protective software may put your computer at risk. Please use this troubleshooting method at your own discretion. If you do decide to implement this method, then to be on the safe side do not visit any website or download any files from the Internet for the time your protective software is disabled or closed.

You may fail to install Windows XP SP3 if your antivirus or antispyware software holds an open a file or lock a file that the Windows XP3 installer requires. To fix this, restart your computer and disable or close your Antivirus or Antispyware program. Next, try to install the Windows XP SP3 from the full download package that you downloaded in Method 1. After the installation is complete, promptly enable or restart your Antivirus or Antispyware program.

If the error persists, move to step 3.

Method 3 – Reset the registry and file permissions

Note: The steps given in this section require you to edit the registry. Perform the following steps only if you are comfortable in working with the registry. Modifying the registry incorrectly may cause serious implications. Perform the steps as they are shown. Also, always back up the registry before modifying it. You may either back up the registry manually by using the Windows Registry Editor tool or use a reliable registry cleaning tool such as RegServe for the task.

  1. Download and install the Subinacl.exe file from the Microsoft website.
  2. Click Start and then select Run.
  3. Next, type notepad, and press Enter.
  4. Copy and Paste the text listed below in Notepad –
  5. cd /d "%ProgramFiles%\Windows Resource Kits\Tools"
    subinacl /subkeyreg HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE /grant=administrators=f /grant=system=f
    subinacl /subkeyreg HKEY_CURRENT_USER /grant=administrators=f /grant=system=f
    subinacl /subkeyreg HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT /grant=administrators=f /grant=system=f
    subinacl /subdirectories %SystemDrive% /grant=administrators=f /grant=system=f
    subinacl /subdirectories %windir%\*.* /grant=administrators=f /grant=system=f
    secedit /configure /cfg %windir%\repair\secsetup.inf /db secsetup.sdb /verbose

  6. Click File, select Save and then type file name as Reset.cmd.
  7. Double-click Reset.cmd to run it.
  8. Now, install Windows XP SP3.

If the error still persists, you may contact Microsoft support for further help.