.: How to install Windows XP from a USB drive

It doesn't happen that often but cd-rom's do fail. What do you do if your's fail in a laptop but want to do a full format and reinstall? The best option is to install from a USB drive, there are a few steps but they really are not as bad as it appears, just follow the steps exactly and you will be up and running in no time. Ok let's get started.

Software needed:
XP Install CD
Windows XP SP3
Ramdisk.sys and Setupldr.bin
Bart PE

Hardware needed:
1 Gb USB Jump Drive
A working computer with Windows to transfer files

Copy XP CD to Hard Drive

The following steps are to be done on another computer that is running Windows

1. Insert Windows XP install CD into the CD-Rom
2. Copy all files from the CD drive to a new folder on the C:\ called XPCD, you will have to show hidden files to make sure you get everything, go to Tools-Folder Options-View Tab-Select the dot next to "Show Hidden files and folders"-Press OK

Install Software and Create USB drive

If you don't need or want SP3 pre-loaded skip to step 6.

1. Install nLite
2. Save SP3 to the desktop
3. Run nLite, press Next, Type C:\XPCD in the box and hit enter, Press Next, Press Next
4. Press "Service Pack" button, red light should turn green; Press Next; Press Select button; Select the SP3 file press Open
5. Once it finishes go ahead and Finish out of the program. Now you have a XP CD with SP3.
6. Install BartPE to C:\pebuilder
7. Create a folder inside C:\pebuilder and name it srsp1, should then have C:\pebuilder\srsp1
8. Extract setupldr.bin and ramdisk.sys into that folder
9. Launch PEBuilder from the Start Menu or Desktop
10. In Source type: C:\XPCD\
11. If you have SP2 you must go to Plugins and enable RpcSS, SP1 and SP3 can ignore this
12. Press Build, this will take a little time to complete
13. Once that is completed plug in your USB drive and Run "C:\pebuilder\pe2usb -f [Drive]" where [Drive] is the drive letter of the USB drive letter, Warning this will format the USB device, all data will be lost!
14. Once that is complete copy the I386 folder from C:\XPCD\ to the USB device.

If there was no errors then you have successfully created the USB device and can move to the next section

Bios Settings

1. Plug in the USB device, turn on the computer that you need to reinstall
2. When the computer just turns on press F1, F2, or Del to enter the Bios. On screen will tell you what to press but most computers are either F1, F2, or Del.
3. Go to the Boot section of the Bios and make the USB the first boot device, you will need to look under 2 different sections. It will either be listed as a Hard Drive or a Removeable device. Which ever one it is make sure it is at the top of that section.
4. Save and Exit Bios and allow the computer to boot into BartPE

Format Hard Drive

1. From the Go Menu select DiskPart
2. Type the following commands: Select Disk 0 (press Enter); Clean (press Enter); create partition primary (press Enter); assign (press Enter); exit (press Enter)
3. From the Go Menu select A43 File Manager
4. Right Click on your hard drive (C:\) and select Format, NTFS and Default allocation size. If you select properties the drive will have no size but that is nomal.

Setup Windows

1. In the File Manager make note of the USB device's drive letter.
2. From the Run Command; D:\i386\winnt32.exe /syspart:C: /tempdrive:C: /makelocalsource
3. Proceed to install windows, a box will pop up saying you should convert to NTFS select No. XP's setup see's the FAT partition of the USB device and thinks the harddrive is the same.
4. The setup will close and return you to BartPE, this is normal remove the USB drive and restart the computer.
5. Finish the Windows setup and you are done!


Common Problems

When I boot BartPE I get the error: "The file iaStor.sys could not be found. Press any key to continue".

When you have created BartPE using an Windows XP OEM CD (for example from Dell) you can have boot problems. To fix this the driver files must be copied manually. Easiest way to do this is by adding the Fix Dell XP plugin.
(other Windows XP OEM CDs can have the same problem).

TJN Computing 2008, All rights reserved.