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HOW TO: Create a Windows XP USB Install Disk

6 posts in this topic

Posted · Report post

What you will need:

  • Windows XP Installation Disc or Files
  • WinSetupFromUSB (v.0.2.3 recommended)
  • A USB flash drive or USB hard drive 700+ MB

    The following is optional in the case that RMPrepUSB does not work:
    • Partitioning software
    • BOOTICE or bootsect.exe (included in Windows AIK) (another program, MBRFix, may work but I have not tested it)

      Preparing the Drive:
      1. Insert the USB flash drive or hard drive
      2. Launch WinSetupFromUSB
      3. Click "RMPrepUSB"
      4. Select the target drive and make sure the following options are selected: NTFS or FAT32, Boot as HDD, and XP Bootable.
      5. Click "Prepare Drive" (WARNING: this will erase all data on drive)
      6. Click "OK" to execute
      7. When finished close RMPrepUSB
      8. If RMPrepUSB fails try downloading directly from author
      9. If still fails go to section "Manual Partitioning", else go to section "Installing Files"

      Manual Partitioning:

      Note: If you don't have paritioning software you can get EaseUS Partition Master Home Edition for free

      1. Open the partitioning software
      2. Select the target device and create a new partition at the beginning of the drive or use the entire drive
      3. Format the partition/drive as either NTFS or FAT32
      4. Set the partition as "Active"
      5. Click "Apply" if needed and close partitioning software when done
      6. Go to section "Setting Up the MBR"

      Setting Up the MBR:

      • Using bootsect.exe
        1. Open a command prompt and run "bootsect /nt52 <drive letter>:"
        • Using BOOTICE

        [*]Select target disk (destination disk)

        [*]Click "Process MBR"

        [*]Select "Windows NT 5.x MBR" (Recommended. Other MBR types will work as well)

        [*]Click "Install / Config"

        [*]Close BOOTICE

        [*]Go to section "Installing Files"

        Installing Files:

        [*]Launch WinSetupFromUSB (if not already open)

        [*]Under "Windows 2000/XP/2003 Source" browse for the XP setup files (located on XP install CD unless copied to hard disk)

        [*]Under "USB Disk Selection" select the target drive

        [*]Click "GO" and wait for process to finish

        [*]Finished. Close WinSetupFromUSB

        Installing XP from USB:

        [*]Plug the USB drive into a computer

        [*]Boot the computer from that drive

        [*]Select option "Windows XP Setup - First and Second parts" from the menu

        [*]Select option "First part of Windows XP setup" from the menu

        [*]When first part of setup completes reboot and boot into the USB drive again

        [*]Select option "Windows XP Setup - First and Second parts"

        [*]Select option "Second part of Windows XP setup"

        [*]Let setup complete as normal

        Video tutorial:

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Posted · Report post

That's a different approach. A number of other guides will often point to the DiskPart tool being used to prepare the flash drive and to see it made bootable. How to Create a Bootable Flash Drive to Install Windows XP

Meanwhile I will be moving this into the Windows Guides, Tips, & Tweaks>XP sub forum there.

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Posted · Report post

Good point, I'd never used the DiskPart utility. However, my XP machine's DiskPart doesn't recognize USB flash drives. Vista's works fine. So I think that XP users will still need a third party tool for that reason and since the disk management utility can't set the partition as active and can't format USB flash drives to NTFS.

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Posted · Report post

I have to agree on the need for some 3rd party intervention as far as XP is concerned. Some time back Bugsy wrote up a guide for using the DiskPart tool for Vista and 7 usb install keys but when given a good look over here the flash drive still wasn't made bootable.

That would still be a part of the tutorial section we had but eventually had to be shutdown due to server problems. Another guide uses the WinToFlash program for XP/Vista/7 seen at How To: Create a Bootable USB Flash Drive to install Windows pc

The other method would be creating an iso image from the XP cd contents you would then see written to a flash drive made bootable by the program used. One program found reliable for this is UltraISO The program will not only take Win XP, VIsta, or 7 iso images and write them to a flash drive seeing it made bootable but also works well for Linux distros and creating a live GParted stick as well.

If you are planning a netbook install of either version or have a done in optical drive as well as simply seeing a slightly faster, smoother Windows install a USB Install Key can be the idea method. Some are now trying this with USB 3.0 flash drives on the newer bus.

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Posted (edited) · Report post


Quicker to implement method using an XP ISO file directly.

Edited by steve6375

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Posted · Report post

Welcome to WF! steve6375

Mounting an iso is another method if you can see that done from an external hard drive on a virtual optical drive like Virtual CloneDrive. You will still find that Vista, 7, and now 8 are far more flexible for that type of installation method however.

The XP installer is afterall now some 11yrs. old and quite outdated by pc standards. (Some still dual boot 98 with 7!)

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