Unable to boot/install Windows XP from USB

Laptop

Laptop
Laptop computer Hardware and Software discussion

Unable to boot/install Windows XP from USB

This question is answered

I have an Inspiron E1405. I want to do a clean install of XP, including reformatting the drive to wipe out all existing data, programs etc.

I have the original Dell Windows re-installation disks. However, my internal CD/DVD drive is not working and I do not have a floppy drive, so I want to install from an external USB DVD drive. The DVD drive is able to read and write, however, I am unable to boot from it.

I have gone into the BIOS and enabled USB as a boot device, and have also set it as the first device in the boot sequence, followed by the internal hard drive. However, despite that when I boot up it goes to the HDD to boot. If I disable the HDD as a boot device and leave only the USB then it says there is no boot device available.

Also, in the 1-time boot menu the USB is not showing as an available choice, even though it is enabled in the boot sequence menu.

I am able to access the external USB DVD drive if I am booted up from the HDD and can even install Windows off the external DVD, however it does not allow me to reformat the drive or to do a clean install -- it is keeping all the old files and programs.

Are there any other steps I need to take to be able to boot from USB? Any help is appreciated. Thanks.

 

 

 

 

Verified Answer
  • Just wanted to report back on my progress in case it helps others. I finally did get it to work, here is what I found:

    1. WinToFlash & WinSetupToUSB did not work for me, While they transferred the OS to a USB stick, when I used the stick to install I got various errors -- BSOD, drive corrupted etc. I ended up using USBMultiBoot to transfer XP to a 2 GB stick.

    2. Slip streaming drivers didn't work, so I just installed them after installing XP

    3. While my laptop offers an option to boot from USB, it does not recognize all USB devices as boot devices. Thus, a USB stick or an external USB hard drive will work, but an external USB CD/DVD drive does not work.

    4. When booting from the USB stick, you need to leave your boot sequence to boot from hard drive first (otherwise the assignment of drive letters goes off). Leave the boot sequence as is, but during startup pressing F12 allows you to over-ride the boot sequence and you can choose USB as the temporary boot device. This has to be done for a total of 3 boots until the OS is fully installed, after that boots can be from the hard drive. If you miss pressing F12 during the first 3 boots it will try to boot from the hard drive and give an error -- missing HAL.DLL -- no problem, just restart and press F12 again to boot from USB.

    5. The internal hard drive MUST show up as drive C:, do not install if it does not. If it is showing as D: the USB MultiBoot help file has tips on how to fix.

    Hope this helps others trying this. Of course everyone's situation will be different and there can be different challenges -- it takes patience to get it right and a lot of Googling/Binging to find the right approach.

All Replies
  • Copy the contents of the Dell disc to the computer hard drive e.g. a folder on the desktop (On a computers whose DVD drive does work). If it is Home or Professional use nlite to slipstream the standalone XP Service Pack 2 and Standalone XP Service Pack 3 to the disc (note these may be already included). Then once the service packs are included, close nlite. Then download novacorp Win to Flash to create the bootable USB device. 

    Sorry this wasn't actually what you asked but it should work also. You should be able to use the external CD/DVD drive to copy the windows disc and I guess a 1 GB or more USB pen drive will do the job for XP Home or Professional.

    Follow this guide when you have created the bootable USB device (note it is for Windows 7 but ignore Step 3. and the Windows 7 Service Packs at the top of Step. 4). A couple of the screens may be different also but its mainly the same idea.

    Philip Yip

     

    Windows Reinstallation Guide and Related Wikies See here for other wikies such as Customising and Using Windows 8.1, Dell Wireless Cards and Unofficial Drivers.

  • Thanks for the very quick reply! I assume that at the end of this procedure I will have a USB flash drive that I can install Windows from; however, won't I have the same problem that it won't boot from USB? Or is it that while it won't boot from an external USB DVD drive it will boot from a USB flash drive?

    Also, I'm having a problem copying my original Windows XP re-installation disc to my hard drive (first step per your reply). My Norton Anti-Virus won't let me copy files called GOTOUCH.EXE and GOTOUCH.BAT from a folder $OEM$. It says they have a Trojan virus on them, which I find hard to believe since this is the original disc. Should I just turn off Norton, or skip these files and copy everything else if they are not critical? Or is it possible they might actually have a virus?

    Thanks.

  • You have XP Media Centre Edition. The Home or Pro versions don't have this but the MCE does. I have they files also it should be fine but don't use nlite to slipstream the service packs in this version of XP.

    I doubt they will have a virus, to be sure download Malwarebytes' Antimalware and scan the entire folder once you have copied it. Also the Media Centre Edition disc is slightly larger than Home or Pro (mine was 2.67 GB) so you will need a 4 GB USB flash drive. Be best to disable Norton and copy the full disc I guess they will be needed for the Media Centre extras to work properly.

    I am sure my Inspiron 6400/E1505 can boot from the USB, I have done once with Windows 7 and once with UBUNTU. I am pretty sure I even booted Windows 7 from USB on my Inspiron 1300 which is older then your system so this idea should work.

    Philip Yip

     

    Windows Reinstallation Guide and Related Wikies See here for other wikies such as Customising and Using Windows 8.1, Dell Wireless Cards and Unofficial Drivers.

  • Thanks for your continuing help. I am making progress but need a little further help:

    1. I downloaded all the drivers from Dell and extracted each into a seprate folder. The ran nLinte to build the image. When I tell it to add the Notebook System Software (the first driver in sequence) it cannnot find any drivers in the folder -- do I need to do something more than just extract the driver zip file? For the other drivers such as chip set it can find the drivers in the folder where I extracted the chip set zip file.

    2. I did a test run and expected nLite would create a new folder with the image, however, I cannot find any new folder so I assume it added the drivers to the same folder where I had copied the Win XP installation CD. Is that correct? If so, since I never got the System Software driver to be added in the test, if I now can figure out (with your help) how to get the driver , will it get added in the wrong sequence? Or do I need to delete the Win XP folder and start all over?

    3. nLite has an option to create an ISO for burning to disc. Since I am going to put this on a USB stick, I assume I don't need to create an ISO? Does the Win-to-Flash program use the ISO image or will it just use the files in the folder?

    4. Finally, I don't have a 4 GB stick and before I go get one I'm still not sure why this will work if it didn't boot from a USB DVD drive. If it does treat a USB stick different from a USB DVD drive, might it work from an SD card -- I do have a high capacity digital camera SD card which can be plugged into a USB port through an adapter.

    Lots of questions, so I do appreciate your patience in answering them all! Thanks once again.

  • 2gig or 4gig usb limit has to do with FAT limitations in bios booting. AKA Fat32 is not an option with some bios boot sequences.

    Report Unresolved Customer Service Issues here:

    Dell - Unresolved Customer Service Issues

    I do not work for Dell. I too am a user.

    The forum is primarily user to user, with Dell employees moderating.

  • I usually manually install the drivers as when slipstreamed the application isn't always there e.g. Dell Quickset. If however you want to slipstream them you need to extract them all using the likes of 7zip.

    As I said slipstreaming (Service Packs) anyway isn't supported on Media Centre Edition I am not sure about drivers.

    Maybe in your case actually, you can just use the win to flash program and directly select your DVD drive when looking for the files...

    I have never tried using an SD card. I have never seen the option to boot from one however.

    You can borrow a friends USB flash stick maybe. As you can just format the flash stick once windows is installed.

    Alternatively if you have a friend with another laptop, you can swap the DVD drives and use their drive and your DVD to install Windows. Swapping the DVD drive, requires the removal of 1 screw on Dell systems. See the Service Manual of your laptop for example. The part can be searched on eBay quite easily e.g. here for about £5. Search for "laptop dvd drive -external". If it is 2nd hand doesn't matter - so long as it works. See here also.

    Philip Yip

     

    Windows Reinstallation Guide and Related Wikies See here for other wikies such as Customising and Using Windows 8.1, Dell Wireless Cards and Unofficial Drivers.

  • Thanks. I'll try your suggestions and will let you know how it goes.

  • Just wanted to report back on my progress in case it helps others. I finally did get it to work, here is what I found:

    1. WinToFlash & WinSetupToUSB did not work for me, While they transferred the OS to a USB stick, when I used the stick to install I got various errors -- BSOD, drive corrupted etc. I ended up using USBMultiBoot to transfer XP to a 2 GB stick.

    2. Slip streaming drivers didn't work, so I just installed them after installing XP

    3. While my laptop offers an option to boot from USB, it does not recognize all USB devices as boot devices. Thus, a USB stick or an external USB hard drive will work, but an external USB CD/DVD drive does not work.

    4. When booting from the USB stick, you need to leave your boot sequence to boot from hard drive first (otherwise the assignment of drive letters goes off). Leave the boot sequence as is, but during startup pressing F12 allows you to over-ride the boot sequence and you can choose USB as the temporary boot device. This has to be done for a total of 3 boots until the OS is fully installed, after that boots can be from the hard drive. If you miss pressing F12 during the first 3 boots it will try to boot from the hard drive and give an error -- missing HAL.DLL -- no problem, just restart and press F12 again to boot from USB.

    5. The internal hard drive MUST show up as drive C:, do not install if it does not. If it is showing as D: the USB MultiBoot help file has tips on how to fix.

    Hope this helps others trying this. Of course everyone's situation will be different and there can be different challenges -- it takes patience to get it right and a lot of Googling/Binging to find the right approach.