How to Reinstall XP Without a Disk

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.

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Step

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

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Sample of computer label with product key

Step

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

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

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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.

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Open the file and follow the given setup instructions.

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Enter your product key when prompted.

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Accept the terms of the licensing agreement when prompted.

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