Booting XP from a USB stick

UPDATE – PLEASE READ: There’s a download link near the bottom of this page for the program I found which worked. I think I left my log file in the thing – if you’re nervous about downloading from me, just Google the application. Also, this information is specific to Windows XP. I’ve found that Rufus is actually a better tool for creating a bootable, USB stick when using Windows 7 (and possibly, Windows 8 – I haven’t had any reason to install Windows 8). WinSetupFromUSB, in many cases, has problems with Windows 7 ISOs if they have been modified from the original Microsoft formats. Rufus, on the other hand, has no problem with images – for Windows 7 – that are not stock….that have been modified, hacked, etc. WinSetupFromUSB, similarly, has no problems working with modified versions of Windows XP.

Rufus failed – and what finally worked

Alrighty, then… So I decided that I’d like to install Windows XP using a bootable, USB media. After all, it’s easy to create a bootable USB stick for any Linux distro using Unetbootin. How hard could it be for Windows XP? And, a quick web search revealed a number of free tools for getting the job done. Rufus seemed to be the most highly recommended, but I absolutely could not get it to work. While a Google search revealed my problem to be fairly uncommon (I found almost nothing on the web that described the issue) I kept getting a lengthy error message which said something like, “Setup cannot find a previous version of Windows”. And it went on to question whether or not I qualified for an upgrade – I actually don’t recall the precise text. I eventually found a program that worked great, and, easily – but it did require a particular setting which I only hit upon after a lot of guesswork. The program which worked was WinSetupFromUsb 1.4. And, I had to choose “Auto Format it with FBinst”, and, tick the “Force C/H/S Mode” box. I have virtually no idea what this second box means, does, etc. But it worked and it worked with both stock, and, modified versions of Windows XP.

Required Settings/Procedure using WinSetupFromUsb

As noted above, for whatever reasons, two boxes must be checked for this to work (in my case, anyway). I had to check “AutoFormat it with FBinst” and “Force C/H/S mode“. Also, as I recall this thing won’t read data straight from an ISO file – you need to extract the contents of your ISO to a folder, tick the XP/Windows 2003 box, and browse to the directory where you’ve extracted your files. All in all, this thing is easy to use and worked great for me…..

Loading from your USB stick

I’m presuming that you know how to boot from a USB stick (by either changing a setting in your BIOS, or, using a function key at start-up to choose a temporary boot device). You’ll see two consecutive screens when booting from a USB device, which look like the following – make these choices:

Screen #1:

Screen #2:


Did this work for you? Let me know

I’ve really wondered if my problems with Rufus were related to my hardware, some sort of setting I’m missing, etc. If you try this I’d be interested to know if it worked. Please stop back and leave a comment so that others (and myself) will know if this is as good a program as it seems to be. I’d really be interested to know if it works for others.

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