Aug 24, 2009

How to install Windows XP on a hard drive destined for another computer

I needed to install Windows XP on an old laptop today. The laptop has an external DVD-ROM drive but, of course, it doesn't work.

I tried booting from a USB drive, doesn't work either (BIOS is too old and does not support booting from USB). Now what?

Network booting is out of the question as it involves too much work to setup a PXE server and it doesn't make sense for a single laptop install. So I took out the hard drive and used a USB-IDE adapter to connect it to another laptop. The next problem is doing an XP install on the "USB hard drive". I thought about copying the i386 folder from the CD to the hard drive but how do I run the setup? I can't boot from that hard drive. Under Windows 98 or 95, it's as easy as "format /s" or "sys " but there is no such option in windows. To do something similar, you'd have to download boot disk images from, unpack, expand using winimage, etc. etc. Too much work.

I looked around and found the solution:
  1. Format the hard drive in question with whatever file system you want (I prefer NTFS).
  2. Let's assume the hard drive is E: and your CD/DVD drive is D:
  3. Put the Windows install CD in.
  4. In a command prompt (Start, Run, "cmd" then press ENTER)
  5. Type: "d:\i386\winnt32 /syspart:E /tempdrive:E"
  6. This will start a Windows installation onto drive E: and will copy the installation files to drive E.
  7. For more options, click here.
  8. After that, the system will restart. Take out the hard drive and put it back into the original computer.
  9. Once that computer boots, the OS installation will continue and will detect the proper hardware.
I'd imagine this would come in handy when installing Windows on a netbook or any other systems that do not have a removable drive.
ZEROSVN Tech Enthusiast

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