How to Install Windows XP on a Flash Drive

Having a full Windows XP install on a flash drive can be a handy tool for troubleshooting your computer. If your hard drive fails, or if your computer is locked down with an unknown password, booting a full Windows XP environment from a thumb drive to run tests and fix configurations can be a lifesaver.

Step

Install the PE Builder application on your computer. See the Resources section for link to the website.

Step

Extract Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 (see Resources) into a folder on your hard drive and search for the files \"setupldr.bin,\" and \"ramdisk.sys.\"

Step

Create a new folder in the PE Builder folder on your computer named \"srsp1\" (For Example C:\Program Files\PE Builder\srsp1) and copy the \"setupldr.bin\" and \"ramdisk.sys\" files into that folder.

Step

Run the PE Builder application, setting the output folder to \"BartPE.\" Do not generate an ISO image.

Step

Insert your flash drive and note its drive letter (for example E:).

Step

Run the pe2usb utility in your PE Builder folder by entering the command \"pe2usb -f E:\", replacing the \"E\" with the actual drive letter of your flash drive.

Step

Reboot your computer and enter the BIOS options. This is done by hitting a key specified on the screen when you first start your computer, such as F9 or DEL. Set USB as the primary boot option. Option menus vary from computer to computer, so consult your computer's operating manual if you have trouble finding the boot device option.

Step

Save the BIOS options and reboot again. Your computer will boot from the flash drive.