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how to install Windows XP on an external USB hard disk?

Posted on 2010-01-03
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Last Modified: 2012-05-08
I have an old notebook without CD drive and unable to boot from anything (that I have) but the internal 2.5" HD.
This 2.5" HD is currently empty/formatted therefore the notebook don't boot.
I can remove and access this 2.5" HD via an USB adapter on my desktop PC.
In this situation, how can I install a Windows XP on this HD so that the notebook can return to be usable?


I already tried this way without success:
- I installed Windows XP on a VMware machine
- I installed Acronis True Image on it
- I cloned C: to the 2.5" HD
- I mounted 2.5" HD back in the notebook
... now when I power-on the notebook it reads the HD for a fraction of second then it stays hanged with completely black screen
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Question by:lucavilla
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by:ICaldwell
ICaldwell earned 600 total points
ID: 26167705
Here is some info on it:

http://www.ngine.de/article/id/8

If you can boot from the drive and can find a driver to add... there is a command like F6 you have to press to add drivers... you should be able to install on this...... My personal computer has a SATA drive which the windows install does not recognize until I provide it with the driver, this should be the same with the usb but the problem is trying to find a driver designed for this...

Go ahead and give what they said in this page a test to see if you can get it working.... good luck
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by:senad
ID: 26167792
To install XP onto your USB Hard Drive you will need to load your USB drivers during the installation. The installation CD does not have USB drivers.
However,I have attached a *pdf file which will show/teach you how.
howto-windows-xp-usb.pdf
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by:senad
ID: 26167794
ahh,just saw my file was the same as ICaldwell .....
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by:coalmanski
ID: 26168004
You didn't provide a lot of information about your computer, so I am assuming that being an older computer you probably have a PATA (IDE) hard drive and a 3.5" floppy drive.  Since the XP installation is hardware dependent, cloning another installation onto the hard drive probably won't work unless the machines are very similar.

To start an installation work around, create a bootable floppy from WinXP.  (If you cannot create a bootable WinXP floppy, create a bootable floppy from another version of Windows.  If your bootable floppy is from an earlier version such as Win 98, then the drive formatting done subsequently must be done in FAT32 not NTFS.)  Ensure that you can boot the notebook from the floppy.  Remove the HD from the notebook and connect it to another computer via USB as you mentioned.  Create 2 partitions on the drive; the size of partition 2 needs to be a minimum of 1GB.  Format partition 2 using the file system appropriate to the boot floppy.  Copy a WinXP installation CD onto partition 2.

Reinstall the HD into the notebook and boot the notebook.  When you get to the a: prompt, switch to the d: drive.  Type setup at the command prompt and hit enter.  The setup then should proceed as if you were installing from a CD.
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by:ICaldwell
ICaldwell earned 600 total points
ID: 26168085
As you can see its complicated... maybe just easier to spent a little money, get a USB CDRom and install the OS from here.... Here is an example from Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/External-CD-ROM-CDROM-Drive-ASUS/dp/B001RKS7AC
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by:Fayaz
ID: 26168643
Will have to know what kind of Hard Drive and BIOS.
See if you can copy DOS on it, if so boot to DOS and start the XP setup.
Include machine details (model, make, BIOS ver etc...)
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by:lucavilla
ID: 26196121
ICaldwell and senad: that doc. shows how to prepare an HD to be booted as USB drive while I need to prepare it to boot as internal HD. I don't think that it's the same thing. That doc. show many USB-specific things that shouldn't be needed for my purpose of booting it as internal HD.

coalmanski: as I already wrote the old notebook is "without CD drive and unable to boot from anything (that I have) but the internal 2.5" HD."  This means that I don't have a floppy drive nor a CD-ROM/DVD internal or external unit.
Anyway, just to know, the boot menu in BIOS shows HD, floppy and CD-ROM/DVD (not specifing if USB or proprietary of other).

Fayaz: it's an HP Omnibook 900 with a 12GB 2,5" IDE HD (IBM Travelstar DATA-212000).
BIOS is a "PhoenixBIOS 4.0 Release 6.0".
How can I install DOS on it? "format /s" doesn't exists anymore and I don't know if it works on HDs...
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by:coalmanski
ID: 26197045
Without getting either a USB floppy drive or CD drive, the only other thing I can suggest is to create the 2 partitions as I suggested before, but format the partitions on a Win 98 machine which will let you do a sys c: to transfer the system files.  Copy the XP installation disk to partition 2.  When reinstalled in your notebook, the machine should boot the system to the c: prompt.  Then, switch to the d: drive and start setup.
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by:senad
ID: 26197247
Does your BIOS support network boot ?
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by:senad
ID: 26197260
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by:ICaldwell
ICaldwell earned 600 total points
ID: 26197302
Just seems a lot simpler to purchase a USB CD ROM for around $20

http://www.amazon.com/External-CD-ROM-CDROM-Drive-ASUS/dp/B001RKS7AC
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by:lucavilla
ID: 26199026
coalmanski: where can I find a win98 ISO image (for VMware) on the net?
does "sys c:" also prepare the sector 0 to make the disk bootable?
why do you suggest to put the XP setup files on a second partition? isn't a single FAT32 partition sufficient for all?

senad: the video shows how to install XP on the internal HD from an USB flash drive. This notebook can't boot from an USB flash drive.

ICaldwell: $20 + shipping to Italy + customs is too much risk being that I don't even know if this notebook can boot from an USB CD-ROM drive. The boot menu in the BIOS doesn't say "USB".It only says  HD, floppy and CD-ROM/DVD (not specifing if USB or proprietary of other).
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by:senad
ID: 26199382
like I said....boot from network....
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by:lucavilla
ID: 26200339
senad: the boot menu in the BIOS "only says HD, floppy and CD-ROM/DVD (not specifing if USB or proprietary of other).".  I don't read network.
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by:coalmanski
coalmanski earned 1000 total points
ID: 26206627
1.  If you don't have one or know someone you could borrow an old Win 98 install disk from, you will probably have a problem trying to find an ISO image on the web since Windows is licensed software.
2. Sys c: transfers the system files making the disk bootable.
3. Yes, a single partition is sufficient.  I suggested two partitions simply to keep all of the installation CD files in one place for easy deletion later, if desired.
4. I believe that the easiest option for you would be to simply add a CD drive.  Without difficulty, I found drives for the HP Omnibook 900 available on eBay for $25.
5. Going back to your original question, you indicated that you want to install Win XP on the computer.  Per the specs for the HP Omnibook 900, it is running a 650 MHz processor with probably 128MB of memory (maximum of 320MB).  With that kind of minimal computing power and only a USB 1.1 port, it seems that you are going through a lot of trouble for a minor gain.  If you want the computer to be usable, I would suggest getting the CD drive from eBay and installing Win 2000 which gives you most of the benefits of Win XP with a much reduced hardware requirement.  Or even better, install Linux.
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lucavilla earned 0 total points
ID: 26412710
Hmmm.... as far as I can see there's no solution without spending money to buy an external CD drive...
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