Installing WinXP on an extFAT SSD ?


Norm X

Microsoft exFAT is an ideal format for SSD. I've been using it on a 16 GB
SDHC with no problems. I/O benchmarks using Crystaldiskmark are better with
exFAT than with NTFS, FAT or FAT32. CHKDSK always works and there is never
any file corruption. Tomorrow, I'll purchase a 32 GB SDHC and format it with

I own the original Acer Aspire One with an internal 8 GB SSD. It shipped
with a version of Linux that was unstable on an SSD so I replaced the OS
with WinXP. Win 7 won't fit. If I partition the internal SSD with an exFAT
partition the I/O literally screams. It is much faster than a hard disk.

For a long time I used NTFS on the internal SSD. Deferred Error checking
would never complete out so I was obliged to install the Recovery Console on
disk. I finally gave up and now I am using FAT32 which is less troublesome
than NTFS on the internal SSD.

However, it is not so easy to install WinXP on an exFAT formatted SSD.
Microsoft offers a download update that implements the exFAT disk format in
WinXP for external drives.

When installing WinXP, the installation CD program asks to press F6 to
provide special drivers, however it expects the drivers to be on floppy
drive "A". My AAOne doesn't have a floppy.

I have several questions.

1) What are the MS files that implement exFAT? Usually one sees .inf, .dll
and .sys files. But the MS exFAT update is automatic and I cannot see what
is installed.

2) Is it possible to create a bootable USB flash that contains the WinXP
installation software and that also includes the MS exFAT driver software?

3) Is there another way? Maybe create an exFAT WinXP partition on a hard
disk partition, copy the exFAT driver files and use a partition manager to
move the whole thing to the internal SSD with a partition manager? But how
does one make such a beast bootable? The boot track format for exFAT is
documented but I don't know of any tools. The WinXP utility diskpart doesn't
know anything about exFAT.

One other point of interest. Windows will not boot from a USB flash but
Ubuntu will. USB flash is SSD so linux is only stable on flash formatted
with ext4. One can edit the fstab file with "DISCARD" to implement the
hardware command "TRIM" so that it doesn't slow down with time due to "write
amplification". It all works good. I have installed exFAT support in Ubuntu
so all Windows files are visible.

exFAT SSD never slows down. Microsoft has implemented some powerful magic in

Thanks for your attention.

Tim Meddick

The Recovery Console, provided in Windows 2000, XP and Server 2003, has the
ability to seamlessly recognise and access NTFS, FAT FAT32 and exFAT

Recovery Console should also be able to access any attached USB storage
devices (USB HDs & USB flash (pen or memory-stick) drives and even cards
inserted into attached card readers) that are formatted in any of the above

However, from what I understand, it is not possible to make any exFAT
partition bootable.


Cheers, Tim Meddick, Peckham, London. :)

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