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Boot from USB to reinstall XP

Posted on 2010-09-18
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I have some computers that we will reinstall the OS to hopefully "refresh" the machines so they run better until replaced.  I have a custom XP install CD with the image these machines need.  It is on a DVD.  However the computers, Dell Dimension 3000 machines, do not have DVD ROM drives.  Before I go through the effort of manually moving a dvdrom drive to each machine (they are dusty from about 3 yrs of use and I really want to save that work and headache) I am hoping a can find a way to install from USB.

Initially I didn't think this would be an option because I figured the machines wouldn't support it in the BIOS.  They do though and it seems to work (at least booting to a USB thumb drive).  Now I am finding the hard part is actually getting the image on the usb thumb drive and getting it to be bootable.  I have take a look at UNetbootin and SARDU, which have been recommended in other solutions here.  However since I have the custom image I seem to be having a problem using them.  SARDU doesn't see it and UNetbootin, after spending all day copying it and making the drive, didn't list it in the menu that appeared.

I have also tried (and will try again because I heard it should work) a USB DVD drive.  However that didn't seem to be recognized by the BIOS so I couldn't select the boot to USB option.

How can I make the USB get the image I need and be bootable to act like it would with the DVD in a dvdrom?  What am I missing in either of these programs?  Please nothing that would violate the terms of use for EE.  If there is any details you need or any questions then please let me know.
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Question by:b0lsc0tt
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by:dreamcomputer2000
ID: 33709706
It has been a while since I used it but WinToFlash should do the trick.
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by:t_hungate
t_hungate earned 50 total points
ID: 33709773
I know Dell can be bad about it but you really should ensure that you are downloading the latest bios updates and drivers before you go reinstalling the OS on all of these machines. If you are looking to prolong there life-cycle this is an essential step. If I were you I would also look around and see if you have some dead machines that you can slave some RAM from.  Increasing the ram while you are updating everything else just makes sense.

If you were unable to boot from the USB DVD then I don't see why you would be able to boot from a flash drive.  However; if you update the bios as I suggest you should find that more and more hardware manufacturers are updating to allow booting from USB.  The was not the case when those machines first hit the streets.

I hope this helps.

http://www.downloadsquad.com/2009/08/27/make-a-bootable-usb-installer-for-windows-xp-vista-7-with-wint/
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/windows-pocket,1113.html
http://www.pctipsbox.com/installing-windows-xp-using-a-usb-flash-drive/
http://komku.blogspot.com/2008/11/install-windows-xp-using-usb-flash-disk.html
http://wiki.eeeuser.com/windowsxpusb

TLH
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by:jimyX
ID: 33709776
I have successfully used PeToUSB:

http://gocoding.com/page.php?al=petousb
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by:b0lsc0tt
ID: 33709857
Dreamcomput

>> It has been a while since I used it but WinToFlash should do the trick. <<

Did you use it for XP?  Did the program take the ISO (a copy of the disc) or the disc itself?  Was it just a normal XP install CD or one with a custom image?  Thanks for that suggestion and it seems interesting.

TLH,

Memory is something we will be looking at.  Depending on how this works I may be picking up some.  IMO the machines were ordered with insufficient memory but, if we don't have to spend the money to get these to last a year then I probably won't push it.

I will look at a BIOS update but probably won't do it if it doesn't clearly say it will provide external USB device support.  As far as boot to USB I have verified that works.  I will try again with the external DVD drive but am not positive the fact one works means the other should.  It seems hardware wise there could be enough difference to make it so a thumb drive will work while a USB HDD or CD/DVD ROM would not.  I will try it again though.

Thanks for the links.  Could you please be more specific about which you have used or specifically recommended?  The first actually mentions the same product as the first expert so I found it a little odd and paused when you didn't make a note of that.  Please see the note below for a general response on the links but I am most interested in what you can add not just in pages you find.

jimyX,

Thanks for the recommendation.  It may be my misunderstanding but does the "PE" in the suggestion mean it would put XP on the USB drive?  For example I haven't pursued one common PE recommendation because it didn't seem to be used for what I needed.  It seemed more for making a bootable, removable version for USB.  I don't need to run XP and other tools from the USB thumb drive.  I just need it to let me do the install from it.  Let me know if I have misunderstood though.

All,

I have done searching and have spent a bit of time on this.  I forgot to mention this initially but, if you provide links, please be specific on how they help and how to use them.  Also, if you have used them or know it works or just found it or heard about it.  A main reason I asked this is to get advise based on experience with doing this.  Not to take from your overall expertise but the direct experience with this will hopefully get me to the solution quickest.

Thanks for everything so far.  I will look into the above a bit but please reply about anything I asked directly as follow up and I welcome any new thoughts or input.

bol
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by:dbrunton
ID: 33709899
Possibly a browse here might prove helpful

http://www.msfn.org/board/forum/157-install-windows-from-usb/
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by:dreamcomputer2000
ID: 33709906
It was for XP and I think I had slipstreamed sp3 but it has been almost a year and the cobwebs have begun to replace the memory.
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garycase earned 450 total points
ID: 33709913
Not clear what you mean by "... I have a custom XP install CD with the image these machines need."

Is this a modified XP install CD slipstreamed with the drivers and applications that you want to be installed during the loading of XP?     ... an an image of the configured OS that you want to restore to the systems?

It's VERY easy to restore an image from a USB flash drive;   not quite so simple to do the full install (but still doable).      Assuming these systems are going to be identically configured,  I'd get one system fully loaded (by adding a DVD drive if necessary);   then simply image it (to an external USB drive) and then restore the image to each of the other systems via the USB drive.

You're correct, by the way, that if the system will boot to a USB flash drive (as you said it does) it should boot to a USB DVD drive.    Did you check the BIOS with the USB DVD drive connected to see if there's a boot order setting you need to change?     You often have to modify the system BIOS to get an external DVD drive to show up in the F12 boot menu on Dells.
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by:t_hungate
ID: 33709915
bol

I'll be quite honest with you, I have not had to deal with an XP install in almost three years. The links that I provided have some step-by-step procedures in them, and for the most part they all use the some concepts and software. I know when I was installing XP form a USB, I had to create my Image, use a third party software such as Bootsect to add additional command line options, then another third party software like WinToFlans and PEtoUSB to copy the image.

Once I got the image on the USB drive, all I had to do was ensure the machine was able to boot from a USB device, which was not always the case.  Which is why I provided the advice of ensuring that you have the bios updated to allow for the USB booting.

I hope that you get a chance to look at the resources that I supplied; however ultimately my experience with XP is quickly seeping.

Good luck in your search.

TLH
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by:SysExpert
ID: 33709974
<< I have a custom XP install CD with the image these machines need.  It is on a DVD.

If you have an image, then what was used to create the image - Ghost - Acronis ?

Is the image an ISO or what ?

If via Ghost or acronis then all you need to do is make a bootable Ghost or Acronis flash drive, with the image on it.

Need more details on your "image"

I hope this helps !
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by:jimyX
ID: 33710036
For installing XP from the USB.

Zipped file:
http://www.911cd.net/forums//index.php?act=attach&type=post&id=1054

Extract and start with "USB_MultiBoot_10.cmd" make sure you have either ISO image mounted or XP source in the CD/DVD drive or .

That was my own experience as I had similar case as yours (CD drive defect) so I found using PeToUSB does what I needed and probably will do what you need.

Anyways, I am not sure whether this is the best in doing that but it was a full satisfactory for me.

JG
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by:nobus
ID: 33710778
i think - if you put the images on a cd, all your problems are over..
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by:b0lsc0tt
ID: 33718588
Thanks for all the responses.  I will need to look into them more and respond to parts but wanted to post in response to a few points to get feedback.

The BIOS was up to date.

I have tried the external USB dvd drive and it does not work.  With a USB Flash drive it will show an option to use it in the Boot Menu.  The 2 settings in BIOS don't seem to let me set the USB device in the order or enable it.  It does work though since it appears in the Boot Menu.  The dvd drive will not show there though.

I don't know how the disc was made.  It does do a custom install of XP SP3 so the drivers and certain programs are installed.  If it will help I can mention the files or folders on the disc or look for a specific one to find out the type.

I may not be using "image" correctly and do understand it is vague if I am using it right.  I don't believe Ghost was used to make it.  Slipstream may be the "type" or what was used but my experience on this part is lacking so I can't say for sure.  I haven't actually used the dvd yet so I can't say what type of menu, etc appears.  I just know that it will install XP and the programs, etc these machines are licensed for.  

nobus,
I have a DVD.  I used it as a source and had a Roxio program create the ISO.  The problem with using the DVD is the machines do not have a dvd drive.  I am hoping to avoid manually installing one in each temporarily to do this.  I still have the DVD though so can use it to make the bootable USB if my ISO is part of the problem.

dbrunton,
Your link doesn't seem to work right now but that may be temporary because of that site's maintenance.  Please review what I said about providing links (http:#a33709857) and include the requested details.

Thanks all!

bol
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by:b0lsc0tt
ID: 33718992
Since it seems a few are recommending BartPE or a process that uses it then will that be able to work with the "custom" dvd?  Before trying I would like to make sure it won't fail and the result would install the programs and other extras that are on the dvd.

bol
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by:t_hungate
ID: 33719327
As long as you can get the system to recognize the USB device, and get your "image" onto that USB device then it should work as you want.

The only tricky thing is making sure that you ensure that you get a bootable image on your USB device.

I hate to say, it but you have four or five good ideas and suggestions, I would pick one and try it out.  If it does not work for your situation, move on to the next one and see which one works for you.

Please post back when you have a working solution, and if possible provide the steps that you used to make your solution work.  That way when someone else comes across this question they will see the exact solution.

Good luck.

TLH
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by:dbrunton
ID: 33719977
What is at the link I provided.
installfromusb.jpg
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by:b0lsc0tt
ID: 33720776
WinToFlash seemed to just get the Windows install.  From the documentation that seemed to be the case but I still tried.  Haven't bothered to run it because it just grabbed files for the Windows install.

PEToUSB seems dated and didn't recognize my USB thumb drive.  The details mention using FAT16 (and thinking that is required) and so it may be the 2GB limit that is the problem.  The DVD contains about 3GB of files (a bootmgr file and folders named Boot, Deploy and Source).  My USB thumb drive is 8GB.

Unless I have missed something I have exhausted all the specific recommendations or programs.  I believe I have responded to all the specific comments or questions.  Let me know if I missed something or anyone needs more info.  I am still hoping to get something specific that will work.

bol
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by:garycase
ID: 33720888
As I suggested earlier, I'd get one system fully loaded (by adding a DVD drive if necessary);   then simply image it (to an external USB drive) and then restore the image to each of the other systems via the USB drive.
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by:SysExpert
ID: 33722021
I would do something similar.

You need to put a copy of the DVD on the hard drive, since each machine is probably not identical to the first, and it will contain the other drivers needed.

If they are, then garycase has the correct solution.


I hope this helps !
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by:garycase
ID: 33722153
Agree that if they're not identical systems another approach is to simply boot to a bootable DOS CD (or a Bart's PE Windows-based CD;  or a Linux distro -- whichever you're the most comfortable with);     create a folder on the drive; and copy the entire DVD contents to that folder (either from an external DVD drive or by first copying the contents to a USB drive).

You can then run the install from that folder.

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by:b0lsc0tt
ID: 33728245
The machines are identical.  They are same make, model, have all hardware the same and need to have the same software.

What do you recommend I use to image the first machine (response to garycase at http:#a33720888)?  In the past I have used Ghost but that isn't available at this location.  Is there something else that would still be easy?  The key would be one that would work from USB otherwise I would basically be back where I am now.

>> You can then run the install from that folder. <<

I am intrigued by this.  I am not sure how I can manually start this though.  The dvd has the structure I described in http:#a33720776 .  One folder, I believe Deploy, has most of the content.  Subfolders it seems for various "programs" like one name Operating Systems, that has Win XP subfolder and contents, and others.  I could easily copy the contents to the computer and don't have a problem booting but I am not sure what to run to start the process so it would do the full install.

Thanks!!

bol
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by:garycase
ID: 33729787
There are a variety of imaging utilities that would work -- I'm partial to Boot-It NG, which works fine with external USB drive as long as the USB ports are v2.    Otherwise you'd need to use the companion Image for DOS program (which works with v1 ports).

As for installing from a folder on the drives -- I'd boot to a utility that lets you partition the drive;  create a large NTFS partition followed by a small (~ 8GB) FAT32 partition;  then copy the DVD to the small partition;  and then boot to an MSDOS floppy or CD (depending on whether the systems have floppies.     Then just change the logged location to the install folder on the small partition and run the Setup utility.     This will then do the complete install.
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by:jimyX
ID: 33731322
Bol,

The limit was fixed in this Earlier I have used 4 GB Imation USB, and it was accepted and recognized.
And even before posting this, I have tried 16 GB Kingston and it was accepted and recognized too.

So I presume it is the USB brand/manufacturer that was not supported.
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by:jimyX
ID: 33731779
"The size limit issue was fixed in this version."
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by:b0lsc0tt
ID: 33783334
Just an update.  This weekend I will have sometime at the location and will reimage at least one machine.  I will probably just do one.  Right now I am thinking it may just be fastest to install a DVD drive.  I will review all the posts here before doing it though since I would rather do something different.

Thanks for all the input and I hope the delay isn't a problem.  If any have more thoughts feel free to post but I am very pleased with what I have, even if it seems I won't have the solution I had hoped for.
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by:garycase
ID: 33783475
I tend to agree with simply installing a DVD drive temporarily.    For a couple reasons:

....  you indicated the machines are "... dusty from about 3 yrs of use ..."   ==>  it's a GREAT idea to take a can of air and clean them out while you're doing this.

...  temporarily installing a DVD drive is about a 2 minute process.    No need to put it IN the machine -- just bring a 24" IDE cable and unplug the cable the CD drive is using from the motherboard and plug in your DVD cable.    A power extension may be useful as well, but probably isn't necessary.    In any event, once you get it configured, it should be VERY quick to move between systems.

I don't have any Dell 3000's to look at, but I did have a Dell 4300 here last week and confirmed that it would boot from an external DVD drive.    I'm still surprised the 3000 won't - especially since it will boot from a USB flash drive.    But I trust you've explored the BIOS well enough to be confident that it won't.
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by:nobus
ID: 33786375
as i suggested on 19/09
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by:b0lsc0tt
ID: 33812611
>> as i suggested on 19/09 <<

Not exactly, at least as I read it.  I did appreciate the comment though and responded to it in my next post.  It may not have been clear originally or when I followed up but when I said it was on DVD it was because the contents or image is over 3GB.

bol
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by:garycase
ID: 33812862
There's a big difference between "put the images on a cd"  (which isn't possible, as the question made clear by referencing the fact that they required a DVD and the whole issue is the PC's don't have a DVD drive);   and physically adding a DVD drive to the machines so they can read the DVDs :-)
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by:b0lsc0tt
ID: 33815245
Thanks to all!  Many responded with good info and options but just didn't work for what I needed this time.  I did a little split for the BIOS and memory suggestion (the machines may actually need the memory but I will hope the reinstall is sufficient).

Nothing exciting or fancy but the install of the DVD drive did seem to be the only option, without a lot of extra work they still may not do what I want.  It didn't take too long and I did just a couple of machines to see how it helps.

Thanks again for all the input, even if it wasn't part of the answer this time.  I appreciated them all!

bol
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