Installing Windows XP on a SATA harddrive from USB

One of our machines recently lost its bearings and decided to die a peaceful death. We decided to re-format the hard drive and put Windows XP on it (I know, it’s being discontinued in 2014 but until then, it’s an easy installation with low memory usage, perfect for running greedy applications).

So, I went on and put a bootable XP CD and went on with the steps. I had minor errors from the CD when copying the files on the computer and once all of them were copied, XP would not install due to a Cyclic redundancy check error on the CD. I went on and put another DVD drive in the machine, thinking it would solve it. No, same error.

I used a brand new WinXP SP3 cd in the new drive – still, same error. Disgruntled, I took out the DVD/CD drive out completely and looked for alternative methods for installing Windows. Doing a server side installation would have been an overkill so I decided to explore a little and use the USB drive to install XP on the machine. The frontal USB drives were visible in BIOS so I changed the install order to use those first.

Now – you would think that just copying and pasting the XP data on an USB will do the trick! You are gravely mistaken.  The USB needs to be bootable.

You will need:

  • another PC running XP, Vista or Windows7
  • a 2GB USB drive (or above) 2.o
  • an original CD with Windows XP
  • the following three archives: ,  ș . Click them to download them.
  1. Create a local folder on your hard drive where you copy the three archives (close to the root, something like C:XP)
  2. Extract the archives and;
  3. Copy PeToUSB.exe in the folder usb_prep8;
  4. Execute usb_prep8.cmd from the folder usb_prep8
  5. A commander window will open and press any key to start the processImagine pas 5
  6. Imagine pas 6
  7. Press Start. The application will format your USB drive. Do not close this application
  8. Extract the archive
  9. Open up a command window (Start>Run> type cmd>enter)
  10. Go to the bootsect folder on your hard drive by using “cd ..” to go up a folder and then typing the folder name to go into it.
  11. Type “bootsect.exe /nt52 I:”,  where “I” is your USB drive letter.Imagine pas 11
  12. The result will be the boot number refresh for the FAT system found on the USB drive. this is the step that makes the CD bootable. Close all windows except the one with a menu on it.
  13. In the menu window, press 1 to select the source CD with Windows XP
  14. Press 2 if you already have drive T to select an unused drive letter.
  15. Press 3 and select your USB drive letter (I: or F: or G:)
  16. Press 4 and then press Yes. You will keep on confirming anything that pops up and stay next to the computer as it is a bit long. It will take you between 15 and 20 minutes to complete this step.
    Imagine pas 13
  17. Confirm the deactivation of the temporary drive and close all windows. Your USB drive is ready so pop it into the destination machine and boot up the system.
  18. Press F12 to bring up the boot menu and select TXT Mode Setup Windows XP… which will start the installation process.

Now, I have done it well so far and it would have been ok, if not for the dreaded BSOD with error code 7B saying that the device could not be initialized. Meaning the Hard drive of the machine was unreachable. Meaning that I could not install XP on a machine with no hard drive.

So I went on a quest similar to the one in the Leagues of Legend, trying to find out why a Dell machine with a SATA hard drive was so much special than a normal machine.

I found out first that

Hopefully this will help other people out there who are facing issues similar to this one.