Install Windows XP from USB

Create a Windows XP USB Edition Disk

Find out how to install Windows XP from USB here. Create a Windows XP USB stick edition - and install XP from USB - by using this guide!

If you wanted to install Windows XP from CD, follow the link. You can also learn how to install other versions of Microsoft Windows by clicking How to Reinstall Windows.

Brief Overview

Windows XP is only available on CD/DVD and not on USB disk. This is the same for Windows Vista and Windows 7.

For most people, this is not a problem. But some computers (e.g. netbooks) do not come with CD/DVD drives. So it's great to be able to install Windows XP from USB stick. It's also faster to install from USB than from CD/DVD so this method could be useful to anyone, really.

To install Windows XP from USB stick, we must copy the setup files from a Windows CD/DVD (or from a Windows XP ISO file) onto a USB disk. You can then "boot" from the USB drive into the Windows setup program and install the system.

The easiest way to do this is to automate the process using a program called "WinToFlash".

Install Windows XP from USB: Step #1, Prepare the USB Disk

If you own a Microsoft Windows CD, follow the instructions below. Note that you will need to carry out this process (Step #1) on a computer that has a CD/DVD drive.

Note: If you don't have a Windows install CD - but you DO have a Windows ISO file - learn how to burn a Windows XP ISO to USB disk by following the link.

1. Insert your Windows disc into the CD/DVD drive.

2. Open the WinToFlash website (click and a new window will open) and click the "Last version via official download server" link, then save the file.

3. Right-click the WinToFlash file you just downloaded and select "Extract to Novicorp WinToFlash..." (or similar).

win-rar unzip file

4. Open the "Novicorp WinToFlash" folder that was created when you performed Step #3 and double-click the WinToFlash icon.

If you're prompted with a security warning, click "Run" or otherwise accept the message.

wintoflash icon

5. Click "Next".

wintoflash welcome screen

6. Tick "I accept EULA" (or similar) and then click the Next button.

wintoflash end user license agreement

7. Click "EXIT".

wintoflash license key screen

8. Click on the green tick button.

wintoflash main interface

9. Click "Next".

wintoflash wizard

10. Under "Windows files path:", click the "Select" button. Then select the CD/DVD drive (which has the Windows disc in it).

wintoflash set windows files path

11. Under "USB drive:" click the "Select" button. Then select the USB/removable disk.

wintoflash set usb drive

12. Click "Next".

wintoflash basic parameters

13. Select the "I accept" option and click "Continue".

wintoflash windows license agreement

14. If your USB disk is not empty, you will be prompted to delete everything on it. Click "OK" if you are happy for everything on the disk to be wiped.

wintoflash format warning

15. WinToFlash will now copy the setup files from the Windows disc to the USB disk.

wintoflash transferring windows setup

16. When all files have copied onto the USB disk, click "Next".

wintoflash transferring windows setup finished

17. Read the message, then click "Exit".

wintoflash all done

Install Windows XP from USB: Step #2, Boot from USB Drive

You should now have a Windows XP USB disk. All that's left is to boot from it and install Windows XP from USB.

You need to do TWO things to get your computer to boot from a USB disk:

1. Insert the USB stick into the computer that you want to install Windows XP onto.

2. Instruct your computer to boot from USB.

Step #3: Install Windows XP from USB

Note: This guide assumes you've followed the advice on the Preparing to Reinstall Windows guide.

With the BIOS correctly configured, and the Windows USB disk inserted into the computer, we're ready to install Windows XP from USB! All you need to do now is switch your computer on, and it should boot from the USB stick.

1. You should see the screen below. Select Option #1:

windows xp usb install

2. When you reach the "Welcome To Setup" page, press the enter key.

windows xp welcome to setup

3. Press the F8 key to accept the license agreement.

windows xp license agreement

4. Select "Partition 1" and press D to delete it.

windows xp setup partitions

5. Confirm that you want to delete the partition by pressing enter.

windows xp setup delete partition

6. Confirm once more that want to delete the partition by pressing L.

windows xp setup delete partition

7. Repeat steps #4-6 for all "Disk 0" partitions until the list of partitions under "Disk 0" shows only one option: "Unpartitioned space".

8. Select the option "Unpartitioned space".

windows xp setup select drive to install onto

9. Select "Format the partition using the NTFS file system (Quick)".

windows xp setup choose file system

The following will happen...

windows xp setup copying files

windows xp setup copying files

10. Your computer will restart when the step "Setup is copying files..." is completed.

(a) Do NOT remove the USB disk from your PC


windows xp usb install boot screen

11. The Windows XP installation should take care of itself now. You just need to click Next or enter something occasionally...

installing windows xp

windows xp setup name organization

If your computer reboots again, always select OPTION #2, until Windows XP has been fully installed (i.e. the desktop loads).

windows xp usb install boot screen

Eventually you should find yourself with a freshly installed copy of Windows.

windows xp default desktop

At this point you can remove the Windows XP USB disk - it shouldn't be needed again.

Install Windows XP from USB: Step #4, Post-install

Your computer should now have been been wiped clean and a fresh install of Windows should be in place. There's just a few final things to do.

1. Device Drivers

Check that device drivers have been installed for all of your hardware:

  1. Click "Start"
  2. Right-click "My Computer"
  3. Select "Properties"
  4. Click "Hardware"
  5. Click "Device Manager"
  6. Look for hardware that has errors

Hardware that is not working properly will display under a "Other devices" section:

windows xp device manager

Hopefully you won't see an "Other devices" category, which will mean that all of your hardware should be working properly. But if you find any devices are missing a driver (i.e. there are devices in the "Other devices" section) learn how to install drivers here.

2. Perfect Backup Image

Now is a great time to create a perfect backup "image" of your computer. This will enable you to very quickly restore your computer back to this 'perfect state' the next time it becomes slow and unpleasant to use.

This step saves you the hassle of ever having to back up device drivers, re-install Windows and re-install device drivers ever again.

To create a backup of your computer, install Macrium Reflect. Use this guide to learn how to use Macrium Reflect.

3. Restore Personal Files

If you created a backup using Macrium Reflect earlier, extract the files you want from the backup image. Use this guide to learn how to restore files from a Macrium Reflect image.

Otherwise, drag-and-drop backed-up files from your backup device onto your computer.

4. Install Software

It's finally time to install your favourite programs! Be sure to save time installing your favourite applications by using Ninite.

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