How to Reinstall XP on a Netbook with No Optical Drive

I have a great little netbook that I use when I'm travelling.  I much prefer it to a full-size laptop because it's small and light, but is perfectly adequate for web browsing and note-taking.  

However, in the year that I've had it, the machine had become a little sluggish.  It was time for the annual format-and-reinstall operation that I like to do with all my computers whenever I get the chance.  I dug out the Windows XP factory restore disc and settled down with a nice cup of coffee.  And then, of course, I realised that this wasn't going to be as easy as I'd assumed.  Because I needed to boot from the XP disk, and the netbook doesn't have a CD-ROM drive.

It does, though, have lots of USB ports.  Surely it can't be that hard to make a USB pen drive bootable, and copy the XP installation CD to it in a format that actually works?

Suffice it to say, it *is* that hard.  I must have tried a dozen different methods, and all but one of them simply didn't work.

So, here's the thing.  If you have the Windows XP CD that came with your netbook and you want to do a reinstall of the OS, head on over to http://en.kioskea.net/faq/3065-installing-windows-xp-from-a-usb-key and follow the instructions therein.  The download that it points you to (WinSetupFromUSB) is only 3 MB, runs perfectly on XP upwards (I happened to run it under Windows 7), and it managed to copy my XP CD-ROM to a USB stick, and make it bootable, with no problems at all. 

Now I just need to reinstall the network drivers, then I can leave the machine to update itself with all the relevant service packs and other stuff that it desires.  While I get on with the work that I should have started this morning.

 

 


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