The general advice is to use up-to-date drivers, but not necessarily an untried immediate release, and avoid beta release drivers unless they have a feature you absolutely need.
The current WHQL certified driver version for XP is Ver 178.24
, which was released mid-October, so if it had glitches there should have been time for them to be discovered and a corrective release issued.
Another approach is to update to the most recent driver offered by the manufacturer of the video card, on the assumption that it will at minimum have been thoroughly tested with the card. Many manufacturers however simply provide or link to the current nVidia reference drivers, which is fine if the card is made according to the reference design.
If you overclock, return the system to standard spec before installing new drivers.
If you are still concerned about possibly experiencing an unrecoverable error state, several hard drive manufacturers offer free drive backup software (eg for their drives, Seagate provide DiskWizard, a limited version of Acronis TrueImage), you may consider creating a restorable image of the system drive in its current state before updating.