How to Make a Bootable USB in Windows XP

By Candace Benson

With the increasing number of netbooks and other laptops without optical drives, USB flash drives have become increasingly popular for storing and sharing data and for installing operating systems or running "live" installations. To utilize the bootable USB flash drive, your computer's BIOS must support booting from USB. Older computers will be unable to boot from USB, while newer systems should have native support or a BIOS flash upgrade available.

Things You'll Need

  • USB flash drive
  • Windows XP installation disc

Prepare Startup Files

Step 1

Insert your Windows XP installation disc. Close the AutoPlay window when it appears.

Step 2

Right-click "Start," and click "Windows Explorer."

Step 3

Navigate to the "D:/i386" folder in Windows Explorer.

Step 4

Hold down the "Ctrl" button, and click once on both the "Ntldr" and the "" files. Click "Edit" in the menu bar, then "Copy."

Step 5

Click on your "Desktop" in the left column of the Windows Explorer window. Right-click on an empty spot in the right column, then click "New" and "Folder." Type "USB," and press the "Enter" key.

Step 6

Right-click the "USB" folder you just created, and click "Paste."

Step 7

Right-click the "USB" folder again. Click "New" and "Text Document." Type "boot.ini" (without quotes) as the document name. Press the "Enter" key. Double-click the boot.ini file. Copy and paste the following information into the boot.ini file:[boot loader]timeout=30Default= multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\windows[operating systems]multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\windows=""Click "File" in the menu bar, then "Save."

Format USB Drive

Step 1

Download and install the HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool from CNET. (See Resources.)

Step 2

Insert your USB flash drive into an available USB port. Open the HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool.

Step 3

Select your USB flash drive as your "Device." Choose "FAT32" as the "File System." Type "Boot" as the "Volume Label." Click the box next to "Create a DOS Startup Disk." Click "using DOS system files located at," then press the "..." button. Navigate and select your "Desktop\USB" folder.

Step 4

Press the "Start" button.

Tips & Warnings

  • You may also copy other boot disk files or an operating system to your USB drive. See Resources.