How to Fix Windows XP From a Flash USB

By Ruri Ranbe

While Windows XP's installation CD can repair certain registry or system errors, if a trojan or virus has infected your computer and is preventing it from running properly, your Windows XP CD's repair utility can only do so much. To fix Windows XP, you will need to create a bootable disk installed with an antivirus software.In the past, boot disks were created using either a CD, DVD or floppy disk. Now, however, with the development of external drives, computers can boot from a USB flash drive. USB flash drives are more convenient than most other removable media because they are smaller and contain more drive space. Making a bootable USB drive to fix Windows XP can be a complicated, drawn-out process, so it's important to have plenty of time available to create the drive.

Things You'll Need

  • Windows XP installation CD
  • USB flash drive

Step 1

Access your BIOS setup screen. Check the drive priority menu to see whether or not you can boot from USB. If the option is not there, an update to the BIOS firmware may allow you to boot to USB. Contact your motherboard's manufacturer for further assistance.

Step 2

Check your USB drive's documentation to confirm that it can be used as a bootable drive. While most USB drives can be used this way, older or cheaper USB drives may not have that functionality.

Step 3

Download and run "HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool." Select your USB drive, choose the FAT file option, then click "Start" to format your USB drive.

Step 4

Right-click "Start," then click "Explore." Click "Tools" from the menu bar, then click "Folder Options." Click the "View" tab, then check "Show hidden files and folders." Click "OK."

Step 5

Click the "C:" drive. Hold down "CTRL" then click the "boot.ini," "ntldr" and "ntdetect" files. Press "CTRL" and "C" simultaneously, then navigate to your flash drive. Press "CTRL" and "P" simultaneously to paste these files into your drive. Do not close Explorer.

Step 6

Download, install and run PEBuilder so that you can create a bootable copy of the Windows XP OS. Insert your Windows XP CD into an available CD or DVD drive.

Step 7

Download a copy of AVG AntiVirus 7.0 and install it to your computer, then download the AVG AntiVirus plugin. Click "Plugins" on the PEBuilder application, then click "Add." Locate your AVG AntiVirus plugin, click it, then click "Open."

Step 8

Return to Explorer. Copy all of the files from your AVG AntiVirus 7.0 program folder to the new AVG AntiVirus plugin folder. Your AVG AntiVirus plugin folder should be located in your PEBuilder program folder.

Step 9

Restart PEBuilder. Click the "Plugins" option, then click "AVG Antivirus" from the list. Click "Enable."

Step 10

Select your Windows XP Installation CD as the source drive, if it is not automatically selected already. Write down the location of the "Output" folder so that you can locate it later in Explorer. In the "Media Output" section, click "None."

Step 11

Click "Build." Once the boot disk files have been generated, locate your "Output" folder and copy all of the files to your USB drive.

Step 12

Restart your computer. Access the BIOS setup utility and change the drive boot priority so that your USB drive boots first. Consult your computer's manual or contact your motherboard's manufacturer if you are not sure how to do this.

Step 13

Restart your computer again. The computer should boot Windows XP using the USB flash drive. Run the AVG Antivirus application and perform a full scan on your computer to remove any viruses or other infections that are preventing Windows XP from running properly.

Tips & Warnings

  • If your Windows XP Installation CD does not include Service Pack 2, you will need to download the SP from the Microsoft site and click the "Slipstream" in PEBuilder when selecting the Windows XP CD as the source file.
  • Some computers, even with BIOS upgrade, will not be able to boot from USB.
  • Do not make a copy of the Windows XP Install CD unless you are the licensed owner of that copy.