No Windows XP setup disk? Here’s how to create one

Many PCs don’t come with a full bootable Windows Setup CD. Instead they come with a "Recovery CD" or, worse still, no CD but a special recovery partition on the hard drive. In most cases running the recovery CD or hard drive program will take the PC back to its original state.

That’s all very well for the PC vendors, but it’s a bad deal for consumers. Often, users want to re-install Windows without reverting the PC to its original state. Similarly, they may want to move their copy of Windows to another PC or engage in a task that requires a Windows Setup CD, such as building a Bart PE Boot Disk. That’s why it’s always useful to have a full Windows Setup CD for your PC.

But there is some good news: with Windows XP it’s usually possible to create a Windows Setup CD from the PC Vendor’s Recovery CD or from files on your hard drive.

If You Don’t Have a Recovery CD

The main requirement is that you have a folder called I386 on your hard drive. This is commonly found at C:I386, but it may be lurking elsewhere. If you can’t find it try using Windows Search to locate it.

If you have such a folder (together with the license key for your copy of Windows) then you are in business; you can create a full bootable Windows XP Setup CD.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2008-03-20: