How to Make a Bootable USB to Install Windows XP

by Joe Lewis
usb flash drive image by Bosko Martinovic from <a href=''></a>

USB drives are recognizes by most BIOS systems as bootable drives. Since USB drives are more durable and portable than CDs or DVDs, and also because netbooks lack any type of CD or DVD drive, they have become popular methods of booting and installing operating systems. It isn't as simple as copying the DVD files to the drive, however. Adequate formatting and file preparation must take place before the drive can be recognized as a bootable device.

Format the USB Drive

Step 1

Download and install the HP USB disk storage format tool, which will be used to format the USB drive.

Step 2

Run the HP USB disk storage format tool, which is accessed by clicking on "Start," then "All Programs" and "HP Company."

Select the USB drive from the list of drives. Choose FAT32 as the file system. Click "Start" to begin the format.

Copy Necessary Boot Files

Step 1

Right-click on the "Start" menu. Select "Explore" from the menu.

Step 2

Click on the "Tools" menu. Select "Folder Options." Click the tab labeled "View" and select the "Show Hidden Files and Folders" radio button.

Step 3

Copy the following files from the root drive (typically C:) to the USB drive: -boot.ini -ntldr -ntdetect

Step 4

Insert the Windows XP installation DVD into the computer's drive. Open the Windows XP DVD in Windows Explorer. Right-click in the window and choose the "Select All" option. Hold down Control-C at the same time to copy all of the selected files.

Navigate to the USB drive in Windows Explorer. Hold down Control-V to paste the DVD installation files to the USB drive. This drive can now install Windows XP.


  • Formatting the USB drive using only the Windows XP operating system is not recommended, as irreparable damage to the flash memory may be caused.


  • Consult online references to ensure adequate preparation for this procedure.


Photo Credits

  • usb flash drive image by Bosko Martinovic from

About the Author

Based out of the bluegrass of Lexington, Kentucky, Joe Lewis began his freelance writing career in 2002 as a columnist for Decipher, Inc., and Worlds Apart. His opinions and analysis in the realms of technology, search engine optimization and social media have also been featured in both WebProNews and Attribute Magazine.

More Articles