Monday, January 4, 2010

Reinstall Windows XP from original CD - a painful exercise

My crashed hard drive (mentioned in earlier posts) was in a bad way. Having restored the Master Boot Record and fixed the Boot Sector, Windows XP would only partially boot. This indicated it was not totally 'fritzed' however essential files were missing. I tried initially to work around by copying the missing files from another, good installation of Windows XP. Ultimately that didn't work. I could get to the Windows XP start up logo but that was it. The boot hung with no further clue as to what it needed. With no other alternatives obvious, it was time to do the dreaded reinstall from the original Windows XP CD. I say 'dreaded' because in my case, the reinstall process could not read files from the CD.

How the heck did I reinstall Windows XP from the CD if it couldn't read the CD?

OK, well I had first better clarify things. The Windows XP CD would boot and allow me to start the reinstall. The read problem came later. Well into the reinstall, the process prompted for 'ASMS' on the CD. The default path was :
With no other path to i386 on the CD-ROM root directory, the work around was:

  1. Boot another installation of Windows XP in a separate machine. (I used my lap top PC)
  2. Remove and hook up the crashed drive via a USB2/SATA interface to the second machine. (These new interfaces are such excellent devices.)
  3. Pop the original installation CD in the CD-ROM on the second machine.
  4. Copy the i386 directory from the CD-ROM to the root directory on the crashed drive. (Assumes of course the file and directory structure on the crashed drive is intact and readable).
  5. Put the crashed drive back in the desk top PC.
  6. Reboot.
  7. The crashed drive will probably now boot and continue with the reinstall. (You probably won't even need the installation CD now).
  8. At each prompt for a file from the CD, simply type the path C:\I386.(Copy and paste will work. You will need it many times, and read the installation files from the hard drive you are restoring).
  9. This will probably bring you to the end of the re-installation without any other dramas, although you might be prompted for certain hardware based drivers such as the video card. Click Yes to move on in each case.

The problem reading the CD-ROM during reinstall appears to be fairly common and there are a lot of entries on Google in relation to files missing during the reinstall. Several work around suggestions have been made but none appear to be as effective as copying the source files onto the destination hard drive as described.

So thats how I fixed my crashed Windows XP. The first thing I did after that was to update and run the virus checker to try to find what destroyed my system in the first place. Boy oh boy - did I ever find some bugs, but that's another story.

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