How do I make an HDD bootable without CD or FDD or USB?

Posted on 2007-12-06
Last Modified: 2008-02-01
My HDD is faulty and I am trying to replace it with a new one.
All removable drives (floppy, USB, CD) are not working and I don't really need them except a time like this.

I plugged the new one as the second drive (D:) and copied Windows XP CD content on it through LAN. I made it active from Control Panel/Computer Management/Disk Management.

I plan to discennect the faulty drive and reconnect the new one as main C: drive, boot from it to install Windows from DOS command prompt.

I only need to make the new drive bootable and get DOS prompt to start from there.
How do I do that without using any removable drives?

I remember making a disk bootable using "sys" DOS command in old days. Not sure about Windows XP.
Question by:omcweb
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Expert Comment

ID: 20421676
You can co a copy sys:<source drive> but you would still need a "removable media" to get to that point since it needs to read the source media.
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Expert Comment

ID: 20422050
Windows XP CD should be able to auto-run from CD.
So you could:

Insert XP CD
Power Machine off (remove cord)
Remove current (faulty) drive C:
Install new drive
Power Machine on
XP installation should start

Oh, make your CD 1st on the boot device list within BIOS.
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Expert Comment

ID: 20422172
dragonjim ==> "... All removable drives (floppy, USB, CD) are not working ..."

omcweb ==>  Since you were able to use the network (to copy files), etc. I assume the XP installation on your current (faulty) drive is still working ... is that correct?

... If so, the easiest way to do what you want (without any removeable media) is to install a Windows-based imaging program (such as RunTime's free DriveImage: );  and use it to simply transfer your system to the new drive.    There are a variety of ways to do this -- one fairly simple way is:  (a) Create a partition on the new drive at least as large as your current C: partition;  (b)  create a 2nd partition on the new drive to hold your image;  (c)  image your current C: drive to the 2nd partition;  and (d)  now restore the image to the 1st partition on the new drive.    Be sure the 1st partition on the new drive is marked as Active ... and you can then remove your old drive and boot to the new one.

... if your old drive is not functional, then how did you set up the network to copy the files?   With NO removeable devices, it's VERY tricky to install XP.   Even a network install generally requires that you can at least boot with network support ==> the easiest way to do this in the absence of any removeable devices is to temporarily install the new hard drive to a system WITH removeable devices, and prepare a small FAT-32 partition with network boot support ... then put the drive back in your system, boot with network support; and do a network install of XP.
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Expert Comment

ID: 20422253
garycase's solution may be it... if the CD drive isn't working at all - it may be worth troubleshooting as well; if you want a clean install - it'll be problematic.

You might want to: (for CD)

1) Check jumpers are configured correctly (primary / secondary ..  Master / slave)
2) Try new cable between drive and motherboard
3) Try another power plug (if no power to drive)

There really isn't much that can go wrong with a CD device, especially with bootable disks.

Author Comment

ID: 20422590
Yes, the faulty HDD is working, but keeps giving me blue screen to do checkdisk. So I was going to fresh install Win XP on the new HDD. I thought it would be easy to make an HDD bootable to give command prompt using some built-in command like "sys". Maybe it is not as trivial as I thought.
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Expert Comment

ID: 20422712
its not difficult to make a HDD bootable; the only problem is, to do so presumes you have a means to boot the computer to do so.

Assuming your HDD problem is hardware you could try:

Ultimate boot CD (download from another computer to CD) and on another computer slave your drive to ghost the old to the new HDD, and install new back into your computer.

But to make the new HDD bootable, you need a way to access it. Generally, boot to removable device. Which per your question are completely non-functional.
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Accepted Solution

garycase earned 250 total points
ID: 20422855
While my earlier answer does address how you can do what you've asked, I must admit it's difficult to believe that your USB controller, floppy controller, and one of your IDE channels (but not both) have all failed, yet the other IDE channel is working well with your hard drives.

... it would make MUCH more sense to simply replace your failed optical drive so you can just boot with the XP CD.   A new CD drive can be bought VERY inexpensively [ ]... or you could even temporarily connect one from another PC.


Author Comment

ID: 20422980
All the disk controllers are fine. Just the drives are not working and my old BIOS does not support booting from USB. Since I normally do not need a CD drive for this PC, I was looking for a way to do it without CD drive. Of course I could temporarily use a CD drive from another computer. I am just trying to do it without opening the box and installing drives. Am I too lazy? :)
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Expert Comment

ID: 20423050
I completely agree with garrycase - and with your recent post. At minimum, borrow a CD from another computer. Replace the CD, and do it the easy way.
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Expert Comment

ID: 20423084
I think the 5 minutes it would take to temporarily connect a CD drive is a lot less time than you'll spend "fiddling" to install without one :-)

... Once you get it nicely re-installed, be sure to store an Image of the new C: partition ... either on another partition on the same drive; or better-yet on another drive ==> then you could always "reinstall" by simply restoring the image ... and wouldn't need an optical drive to do so.

Expert Comment

ID: 20591221
Forced accept.

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