Install Windows XP using USB stick or drive

Some time ago I decided to format and reinstall Windows XP on to my EEE pc 901 notebook which had an unremovable virus. My notebook does not have a CD rom drive and instead of buying a USB CD rom drive I decided to save some money and just use my 1 gb USB thumb drive / stick to do the job.

The following will be required : –

  1.   A USB thumb drive with at least 1 gb of capacity. Windows XP home will occupy about 670 megabytes on the drive.
  2.   The following two zipped folders with the correct files within (a) USB_prep8 and (b) bootsect (download them here )
  3.   A personal computer or laptop running Windows XP or Vista with a CD-ROM drive.
  4.   A genuine copy of Windows XP or Vista.

There are 2 main procedures to be followed.
A) The first is to prepare a USB stick with windows installation files loaded which can boot up a notebook computer.
B) The second is to install the windows operating system onto the notebook.

PROCEDURE A , will be preparing the USB stick.

  1. Insert the Windows CD into the CD rom drive and insert the USB stick into the same computer. Wait a while to close any auto opened   windows. Take note of the drive letters assigned to your CD rom and USB by your computer.
  2. Unzip the USB_prep8 and bootsect files.
  3. In the unzipped USB_prep8 folder, double click the USB_prep8.cmd file. It will run and a command prompt will open. Ignore it and press any key to continue. A PeToUSB window will now open.
  4. Don’t change anything in the PeToUSB window, just click “Start”. Formatting of your USB will then start. It will only take a few seconds.
  5. VERY IMPORTANT…DO NOT close the two windows (PetoUSB and USB_prep8). Now open a new command prompt by typing “cmd” in the Start –> Run box ( WinXP, Windows 7 users need to type “cmd” in the “Search and run programs” box ) . In this new command prompt, go to the directory where bootsect.exe is saved. Now type “bootsect.exe /nt52 R:“. Change “R” to the drive letter directory of your USB drive. Before pressing enter to run the bootsect.exe command make sure there are no windows opened which are displaying the contents of your USB stick. If all goes well you should see this message “Bootcode was successfully updated on all targeted volumes.” Now you can safely close this command prompt and the PeToUSB windows only. Make sure the “USB_prep8” window is NOT closed.
  6. Once you close the PeToUSB window the USB_prep8 window will automatically display a list of options.
  7.  The options 1-3 will now need to be updated with the correct information.
  8. Press “1” on your keyboard followed by “enter”. A folder browse window will open for you to browse to the location of you window setup files ( your CDrom drive with the windows CD inserted in step 1.) Select the correct drive and enter.
  9. Now press 2 and enter a letter NOT currently assigned to a drive on your PC. Since your pc is unlikely to be using more than 3 or 4 drives the letter “K” or higher can be safely used.
  10. Press 3 and enter the drive letter of your USB stick
  11. Finally press 4 to start the process of preparing your USB stick.
  12. The script will then ask you if its ok to format drive K:. This is just a temporary drive the program creates to store the windows installation files. Press Y and enter.
  13. Once it is done formatting, press enter to continue. You will now see the script copying Windows installation files from your CD to the temp drive it created. This will take a short while. Once done press enter to continue again.
  14. Next you will see a pop up box asking for permission to copy the files from drive K to the USB. Click “Yes”. This will take a longer time, depending on the speed of your computer system.
  15. Once the program has completed this step a window will popup asking if you would like the USB drive to be the preferred boot drive. Select “Yes” again.
  16. Finally you will need to select “Yes” one last time to unmount the virtual drive. This ends Procedure A.

PROCEDURE B, will be installing XP into your PC using the USB thumb drive and configuring it to install the operating system into the notebook

  1.  Insert your USB then start your PC, then go to BIOS set-up. Set USB as your primary boot device.
  2.  On the startup menu you have two options, select the text mode setup option.
  3.  From this point on, it is just like any other windows XP installation. When prompted, delete all the partition(s). Recreate the primary partition on your EEE pc and quick format it using NTFS.
  4.  Once the text mode portion of setup is complete, the computer will reboot. This time, boot into the GUI mode.
  5.  Once the GUI portion of setup is complete you will again have to boot into GUI mode to complete the XP installation until you end up at your XP desktop. It is very important that you DO NOT REMOVE THE USB STICK before you finally end up at your XP desktop. Only when you see your start menu is it safe to remove the USB stick and reboot your pc to make sure everything is working perfectly.

I did experience a few hiccups along the way which you may or may not experience. If you do have a problem, feel free to contact me and I will do my best to help you out.