How to Install Windows XP From a USB Drive

By Erin McManaway

The Windows XP folder named "I386" on an installation disk contains the files you need to create a new installation of the Windows XP operating system. If you copy this folder to your USB drive, you can use the USB drive to create a Windows XP installation. However, you will still need to have a valid Windows product key to authenticate the installation and activate Windows XP. You will also need to have an original Windows XP installation disk or a copy of the entire "I386" folder.

Copy the "I386" Folder

Step 1

Insert the Windows XP CD into a computer CD-ROM drive.

Step 2

Insert your USB drive into a USB slot on the computer.

Step 3

Click the "Start" button and double-click "My computer." This will open up a list of drives on your computer.

Step 4

Right-click on the CD-ROM drive that contains the Windows XP disk and choose "Browse."

Step 5

Right-click on the "I386" folder on the Windows XP disk and choose "Copy."

Step 6

Minimize the CD-ROM window and double-click your USB drive from the "My Computer" window. This will open up your USB drive window.

Step 7

Right-click inside the USB drive window and choose "Paste." This will create a copy of the "I386" folder on your USB drive. You can also copy and paste the "I386" folder from another location on your computer if you only have the folder and not the CD.

Install Windows XP From the USB Drive

Step 1

Insert the USB drive into the computer's USB slot.

Step 2

Open the "I386" folder and locate the "Winnt.exe" file.

Step 3

Double-click the "Winnt.exe" file to launch a DOS prompt for a Windows XP installation.

Step 4

Type the location path of your "I386" folder in the DOS window. For example, if your USB drive is letter "D" in your "My Computer" window, type "d:\i386" without the quotation marks and press the "Enter" key.

Step 5

Allow the installation program to copy Windows XP setup files to your computer.

Step 6

Reboot your computer at the prompt. The Windows XP installation will continue automatically.

Step 7

Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the installation. The program will prompt you for your Windows XP product key during this process.