How to Reinstall XP Without a Disk

By Traci Joy

At one point or another, your PC may need a complete reinstall of Windows XP. Whether it is because of a virus that won't go away or a major computer malfunction, reinstallation is common. If you do not have a reinstallation or recovery disk, often the computer manufacturer has stored the Windows XP application in a file on the computer. This process will guide you through the reinstallation of Windows XP from the hard drive.

Things You'll Need

  • Blank CDs or other storage device
  • PC with Windows XP
  • Windows product key
  • Internet connection

Step 1

Copy all data, programs and photos you wish to save off your computer onto CDs or another storage device.

Step 2

Locate your product key and have it ready; you will need it during reinstallation. If you do not have the packaging that came with your PC, which displays the product key, check on the side or back of your computer. It is often found on a sticker here. If not, you may have to download a key finder to walk you through the steps of finding the product key, hidden in your computer's registry. See the Resources section for a link to a free key finder program.

Step 3

Click on "Start," then go to "My Computer."

Step 4

Click on the file "I386." Within this file, there are many other files. You are looking for the file "Winnt32.exe." If you cannot locate the file this way, type "Winnt32.exe" into the search field on the start menu.

Step 5

Open the file and follow the given setup instructions.

Step 6

Enter your product key when prompted.

Step 7

Accept the terms of the licensing agreement when prompted.

Step 8

Set up Windows XP to your preferences by following the setup wizard.

Tips & Warnings

  • As soon as you have reinstalled Windows XP, immediately reinstall your anti-virus program, which will have been deleted during reinstallation.
  • You will also need to reinstall all drivers and programs.