Installing Windows XP to hard disk from USB Flashdrive


G

Greegor

I've been tinkering, trying out two uitilities that
copy a Windows install CD to a flash drive
to boot and install windows FROM FLASH
onto a hard disk drive.

WinToFlash and WinSetup

http://wintoflash.com/home/en/

http://winsetupfromusb.googlecode.com/files/Win Setup_1_0_beta8.7z

This type of utility is primarily to help people with
notebook computers without CDROM or Floppy
drives to reinstall windows after replacing or
wiping a hard disk. They need to have another
computer that DOES have a CDROM drive to
set up the Flash Drive.

First I tried WinToFlash which failed.
I looked on their support forums and found
that the blue screen error code that I got was
resolved with a modified NTDETECT.COM
on some computers.

It worked.

A SATA vs IDE driver issue caused
the COPY portion of Windows install
to take 7 HOURS, but I don't think that's
any fault of the utility.
A Windows install CD intended to install
onto SATA works but SLOWLY to put
Windows onto an IDE hard disk drive.
(Presumably, a CD intended to install to
IDE would similarly COPY files very slowly.)

After the 7 HOUR delay for COPY, the
installed Windows worked normally.

A few days later I tried the only other
such utility I could find online.
But for this test I was targeting a SATA drive
on my target machine.

I tried WinSetupFromUSB_0-2-3.exe which
failed. I could not find a solution in their
support forum, but I did find a reference to
a newer version (Beta) so downloaded
Win Setup_1_0_beta8.7z

I uninstalled the old WinSetup and installed the
new (beta) one.

I noticed in some info on it that it has the
capability to automatically install an
altered NTDETECT.COM and a newer
(modular) formatting routine contributed
by someone else.

I started over with this beta version and
the user interface screens were very different.
A pop out menu had the NTDETECT option
I was looking for.

I booted from the USB flash on my target machine,
selecting part 1 of the install and rebooting to
part 2 of the install.

The entire install only took 30 minutes, but
had the advantage of a SATA drive with a
CD designed to install to SATA.

The two (competing) programs for doing this
both work in their latest incarnation and
with minor tweeks like the altered
NTDETECT.COM.

I started into this because I bought a
PNY 32 GB USB Flash drive at WalMart
for $19.99 and wanted to explore the options.
Definately overkill for this purpose since
a 1GB drive is plenty for an XT install CD
and 2GB Flash drives are fairly cheap on eBay.

My next move would be to study nLite and
Autostream or similar programs for both adding
updates like SP3 or removing Outlook Express
from the install image.

At the moment, the latest version of WinSetup
is only slightly more polished than WinToFlash,
but WinToFlash has a better support forum and
I suspect it might leapfrog a bit.

Does anybody know if these two free software
projects are sharing any code or developers?

Or know of any other utilities like these?
 
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