Monday, June 8, 2009

WINXP - Boot Problems

I am posting this because of the many, many times that I have to repeat this advice in the WEB sites I monitor (sidebar).

WinXP boot problems fall into 2 broad categories:
  • When you try to boot to the hard drive you get an error of some type

  • When you try to install WinXP, Setup cannot find your hard drive

Possible solutions to these problems involve booting to your *original* WinXP Setup CD.

CAUTION: If your WinXP Setup CD is for WinXP SP2, but you have upgraded to SP3, the CD is useless for repair. AFTER upgrading to SP3 any repair option will insist you use a WinXP SP3 CD, which you usually do not have. Notice the qualifier "usually," this is because there are WinXP SP3 OEM Setup CDs available in limited quantities, for a short while. I bought one of these for repair purposes, for my home system.


This is the category where you get an error when you try to boot to your WinXP hard drive. This includes the infamous BSoD (Blue Screen of Death).

The mistake some people that have this problem do, is to reinstall WinXP from scratch. This wipes the entire hard drive AND all applications, My Documents, etc., that were installed. This "fix" should be a very last resort, AND should never be used to just "fix" a virus problem.

What should be tried FIRST:

  1. Boot to your WinXP Setup CD

  2. After loading, at the first dialog, there will be a Repair option on the bottom Statusbar, use this option to open the Repair Console

  3. When you get to the Repair Console Command Prompt, enter CHKDSK C: /R

  4. Let CHKDSK do its thing, then reboot

If the above does NOT work, try:

  1. Boot to your WinXP Setup CD again

  2. This time, at the first dialog, select the option to install WinXP

  3. A second dialog should show C:\Windows as existing (you have WinXP already installed), and there will be another Repair option on the bottom Statusbar, use this option to start a Repair Reinstall

  4. A Repair Reinstall will leave your current configuration, applications, documents, etc., as is.

    CAUTION: You must rerun ALL Win Updates. I highly suggest you install only 3 to 5 at a time, reboot asked to or not, repeat. Keep all SPs (Service Packs) for last and install one-at-a-time (they're big).


The WinXP Setup CD does NOT include SATA drivers. Therefore if your system uses SATA hard dives, WinXP Setup will not see your hard drives.

The fix is to go into your system's BIOS Setup and look at the SATA Setup/Configuration.

See if there is a Compatibility Mode or IDE Mode setting. Setting this will make your SATA Controller act like an EIDE Controller, which will allow WinXP Setup to see your hard drives.

After installing WinXP, if you want to use SATA (which has faster transfer rate), you must install SATA drivers. You should be able to get these from the original Driver CD that came with your system, or download from your motherboard manufacturer's site.

After installing the SATA drivers, go back into your BIOS Setup, SATA Setup/Configuration, and change setting back to original.

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