How To Install Windows XP On Any Laptop Without CD Drive
Install Windows XP From Scratch On Laptop Without Working CD Or Floppy Drive
After buying a new Asus laptop running Windows Vista I found that certain applications that run fine on XP, simply do not work. Although I could search out alternative pieces of software compatible with Vista, I am stuck in my ways and would prefer to use my favored tools.
So I turned to my old Vaio, a machine which crashed never to be revived – until now, in hope of re-installing XP for those odds bits of software which refuse to work on Vista.
A straight forward reinstall, especially with the recovery disks, would have been no problem, but mine was not that simple. I have no recovery disks, the CD drive doesn’t work, and my laptop, like most these days, does not have a floppy drive. Unless you have a brand new laptop, you will probably find that your bios version does not support “Boot from USB”. For anyone who has performed a fresh install on a laptop, you will know all these factors can amount to nothing less than problematic.
Faced with my current situation the first fix that came to mind was to place my hdd directly inside another laptop with a working CD drive, then run the installation using the Windows XP disk.
Everything seemed to work fine but when I put the hdd back in my Vaio and switched it on; it failed to read anything, as if Windows was not even there. This is common for many brands of laptop.
If you find yourself in this awkward situation, there is a tried and tested method for installing XP on any laptop.
You will however, need access to:
- A desktop computer
- A copy of Windows and MS DOS 7.10
- ALL of your drivers, usually available from the manufacturers website
- A 44-pin Laptop IDE to 40-pin IDE convertor, available for less than 20 bucks
Here’s what you do:
- First carefully remove the hard drive from your laptop
- With the power off, plug the hard drive into the desktop’s second IDE port using the 44-pin to 40-pin IDE convertor. Power on the machine and the drive should show in My Computer
- If it is not already, you will need to format the drive to FAT 32. You can always switch it back later with a program like Partition Magic if you like. My Vaio was already partitioned with 20GB FAT32 on the primary drive C: and 20GB NFTS on the data drive D: I have kept the same file systems since the install and it works just fine
- Note: Be sure to back up any vital data, formatting the drives will completely erase any information stored on the hdd
- Once the hdd is formatted using the correct file system, you will need to insert the Windows disk into the desktop and copy the I386 from the CD to your laptop hard drive (If you have a partition set up, you should copy the folder to FAT 32 C: drive to save confusion later on)
- Next insert the MS DOS CD, power down the desktop and switch the laptop hdd to the 1st IDE port. This will help DOS recognize the hdd you wish to install on. MS DOS version 7.10 (free download) contains a smartdrv.exe file which helps speed up DOS transfers.
- Power on the desktop and machine should boot from CD, prompting you to click though the steps to install MS DOS
- Once you’ve finished power down the PC and replace the hdd in your laptop
- Turn the laptop on and DOS should load
- At the command prompt you should type,
- C:smartdrv.exe – to enable faster data transfer during the installation
- C:I386winnt.exe – to run the Windows installer
- Now let the installation complete its process. This may take a while, especially if your hdd is old, 5-10min is not an unreasonable wait with smartdrv.exe installed, expect longer without it
- Follow the steps in the Windows installer and within 1-2 hours, depending on computer speeds, the installation will be complete
- Now you can begin installing your drivers. These can, fortunately enough, be installed via USB. Just copy the setup files to your flash drive and run driver installations from there
- Now you will have both MS DOS and Windows XP installed on your laptop. You can leave the dual boot and your computer will still function fine, or you can opt to remove the MS DOS leaving only XP
In our next article, we take a closer look at removing a Dual Boot in Windows
So, as long as you have access to a desktop computer, some peripherals and the correct software, you can install Windows XP on any stubborn laptop.
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