If you’re ready to install SQL Server 2005 SP1, you should also be aware of the recently-released cumulative hotfix package (build 2153).  Unfortunately, Microsoft has created an unusual situation that is bound to lead to confusion.

SQL Server 2005 SP1 was released less than a month ago, yet we already have a post-SP1 hotfix package that includes a significant number of additional fixes (33+).  There are two things that stand out with this release.

First, the update files are available for public download, whereas in normal practice the article describes the fixes and says “contact PSS to obtain this update.”  Second, the article does not contain the usual disclaimer of “install this update only if you are experiencing the problem described.”  However, it also notably lacks a statement recommending its installation.  As a result, there is neither a negative nor a positive statement about whether it should be widely installed.

So what do you do?  My recommendation is to always install SP1 and this cumulative update package together (and in that order).

As I had suspected, this odd timing was just a result of Microsoft’s release schedule, and the updates in this rollup didn’t quite make the SP1 cutoff.  You don’t need to take my word for it — Euan Garden of the SQL Server product team anticipated the confusion.

How to install?  This should go without saying, but it’s worth the time to back up your databases first, including the master and msdb databases, and to install these updates on a test server before updating your production server.  Install SP1 first, reboot if required, then install the cumulative update and read the directions first.  This update comes in six separate files that must be installed in a specific order, namely, the top-to-bottom order in which they are listed in the KB article.

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