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Use WinXP from USB HDD (again :) with help of a SATA disk?

Hi there,

Okay, so I found out that it's hard to put XP on a USB HDD.
See for example http://www.experts-exchange.com/Operating_Systems/Q_20983648.html .

But is it possible to have a configuration that would boot off a SATA disk and then load Windows from the USB HDD?
Our problem is that computer reboots AFTER showing the WinXP logo, so I'm guessing only putting the bootloader
on the SATA disk doesn't resolve the problem - correct?

Any thoughts on this, how can I build a configuration with identical SATA disks so that one is connected to SATA
and one to USB (with a USB-SATA case), and so that I can boot from which disk I want? WinXP on both disks.

Suggestions welcome. Thanks!
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1 Solution
first your bios needs to be able to have usb drives in the startup boot device sequence
install xp on your primary sata, connect your usb ext sata (must retain drive letter), install xp on that too after 1st booting from xp cd, this should configure the boot.ini to look for two boot partitions on those defined attached drives allowing you to select which one to want to boot from
ZaSSeRAuthor Commented:
Thanks for your post FriarTuk - however, could you clarify how that helps our situation? To me it seems like we still end up
loading the OS wholly from the USB hard drive and still end up rebooting when the USB bus is reset (see link on original post).

We have no problem booting off the USB disk. However, we do have a problem with XP resetting the USB bus when loading
 - so when we boot off the USB drive the computer will reboot when loading XP when it loses the boot disk on bus reset.

To my understanding there's no way around this with only USB hard drive (correct me if I'm wrong).
A thought occured whether it would be possible to install so much of the XP on the SATA drive (or a IDE-CF for that matter)
so that we would get past the USB bus reset, and then read the rest from the USB HD.
Thus actual system files would be on the USB drive, so that we can carry this USB drive with us, and connect it onto any
of these computers (several are being built) retaining all settings etc.

Anybody want to clarify how exactly we would accomplish this?
Is it possible to slice up XP bootup process so that a part is loaded from one HD and the rest from other?
So that the first HD would have no information that would need to change (just enough boot files to get past the USB bus reset),
 ie. we can just swap USB drives between computers and every user will have their own XP to carry with?

Thanks for your thoughts!
you can't slice the boot process, first xp loads from the boot area which informs it of which drive the o/s is on, then loads from there - in essence you boot from one drive or partition loading the o/s from the other drive or partition - this is how you can have dual boot systems - w98 on c:, xp on d: but xp bootloader is on c:
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ZaSSeRAuthor Commented:
So basically I'm screwed with respect to building systems with interchangeable USB system hard drives..? :(
Pretty much, see here for an explanation of system vs boot partitions

also if you were to install xp on a usb drive, it would have to load new system & hardware drivers for every pc you connected it too - ususally xp doesn't like finding itself on a system with completely different hardware because it uses a combination of that system's detected hardware serial #'s to help produce the activation key, see below for related problems moving xp to another box

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/824125/en-us    how to replace mobo for 2k/xp
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/249694/en-us    moving xp to a different pc
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/314070/en-us    move xp to new hardware
ZaSSeRAuthor Commented:
Yeah, the last part I'm aware of.

This was for a case where we would have built several identical PCs and allow the USB-drives to roam between them.
But it looks like we have to go the SATA way, if there's no solution for USB.
if you don't need an actual o/s on the usb drive, you could just format in ntfs, make it bootable if need be, & just use it to share files

i have mine setup to be bootable, with the dos ghost.exe & corresponding images on it just in case i need to reload any of my computers, but it mainly sits as a shared network drive for backup purposes

thx for the pts & sorry it wasn't exactly what you wanted
ZaSSeRAuthor Commented:
Well, sometimes the right solution is that you can't do it. :)

I do need the actual OS on the USB drive, idea was to use these drives as a portable workstation environment, so that each designer
has their own system - but can carry only a 2pound drive and not a 20pound system with them as they change location.
Ie. systems would be deployed on sites ready to be plugged with the USB hard drive.

Why USB? Because then you can use it to copy files on any computer, even if you're limited to booting from identical ones.
But we'll scrap this share idea, and build SATA ports on the back of the computers and do the same with a portable SATA drive.
Shouldn't be any problem with that. Have to supply them with USB sticks or something then for general file sharing.
Or maybe I can find a HDD case that has both SATA and USB connectors - haven't seen any, only USB&Firewire. But maybe they're around...
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