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Clean Install of Windows XP

Many people find that doing a clean install of an operating system is the best way to go. Clean installing Windows XP is not difficult. However you should consult the Windows XP Hardware Compatibility List  to ensure that your hardware is supported by XP. Hardware that is not on the list may still work very well however you should make sure that you visit the manufacturer's site for updated drivers. If the manufacturer doesn't have XP specific drivers then make sure that you have Windows 2000 drivers downloaded and saved to floppy, CD or a separate partition on your hard drive BEFORE you start the installation process. The instructions below are basic instructions. If you have a SCSI drive or RAID controllers then you will need to ensure that you have drivers for these devices and install them when prompted at the beginning of the setup process.

All versions of the Windows XP CD are bootable. To do so your BIOS must support booting from your CD-Rom drive. Access the BIOS/CMOS settings and look for the Boot Sequence. Make sure it is set to "CD-Rom" before the "C" drive. You can use a Windows XP Upgrade CD to perform a clean install providing you have a qualifying version of Windows to satisfy the authenticity check during setup. (see #9)

The may wish to download Service Pack 2 or other Windows Updates and save to CD before you run your clean install.
SP2 Release Information
SP2 Checklist (Jupiter Jones)
Download SP2 (full)
Windows Updates (Catalog site)
Windows Updates (Technet site)

or you might want to create a Slipstream Windows XP CD. See here for instructions on how to do this Slipstream Windows XP

Presuming that your computer has a blank, freshly partitioned and formatted hard disk, you need to start your computer using one of the following procedures:

To Install using the Setup startup disks.

  1. If your computer can not boot from a CD-Rom drive then you will need to use a Setup disk set to start the computer with. You can obtain a download which will create a 6 floppy Setup disk set that corresponds to your version of Windows XP from here:
    Windows XP Home Edition Utility- Setup Disks for Floppy Boot Install
    Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 1 Utility- Setup Disks for Floppy Boot Install
  2. Once the Startup process is finished you can point to the location of your Windows XP CD or files to begin the install.
  3. An alternative to the 6 floppy Setup disk set is to use the 1 floppy XP Install Disk from here . Boot with it and then run WINNT.EXE from the \i386 directory of your XP CD or your setup files location.


If your computer is capable of booting from a CD-ROM drive and you would rather install using this method, then:

  1. Start your computer and then insert the Windows XP CD into your CD-ROM drive.

  2. Your computer should automatically detect the CD, and a message "Press any key to boot CD" will be displayed for 5 seconds.

  3. Press a key and the CD will begin to load files that are needed to begin the installation. This make take a few minutes.

  4. When asked if you wish to install Windows XP press Enter.

  5. You will be presented with the End User Licensing Agreement. Press F8 to accept and continue or press F3 to cancel the install.

  6. Select the partition in which you wish to install Windows XP and press the Enter key. If you wish to delete the current partition or partitions you can do so now. Once you've deleted partitions you will be asked to create a partition. At this point you can choose the size you wish. Most people will elect to create one partition that fills the entire dive. If you decide you would like multiple partitions then create a partition size that will be suitable for XP and your installed apps as well as room for cache files etc. 10GB is s nice size for a full XP install leaving plenty of room for applications etc. After XP is setup and running you can create additional partitions in the free space through XP's Computer Management Console.

  7. The next screen asks if you wish to use the NTFS file system.  This is the preferred file system, however, if you choose to use FAT32, you will not have all the security and stability features of  Windows XP.

  8. If you previously had an Operating System installed you will be given a choice of Format options . Select the Format option of your choice. When asked to start the format, press the "F" key.  The formatting process may take quite a bit of time. 

  9. Setup will begin an automated loading of files which will take several minutes.
    ***Note - If you are clean installing using an XP Upgrade CD you will be asked for a qualifying product at this point. Just pop the CD for your older version of Windows into the drive while the XP setup completes an authenticity check. Following this you will be prompted for the XP CD and setup will continue.

  10. After this is complete the computer will restart. Leave the XP CD in the drive but this time DO NOT press any key when the message it "Press any key to boot CD" is displayed. In 5 seconds setup will continue.

  11. The Windows XP Setup wizard will lead you through the process of gathering information about you and your computer.

  12. If you are connected to the Internet XP will prompt you to "Activate". Do not activate at this time. You will be prompted periodically to activate but you have 30 days to do so. Remember though that at the end of 30 days, if you have still not activated you will no longer be able to access the Desktop. Information on WPA found here Technical Details on Microsoft Product Activation for Windows XP

  13. Following the Activation Screen you will be given the opportunity to Register Windows XP. Registration is optional and choosing not to register will not have any negative effect on your system.

  14. You will be required to enter your account password to gain access to the Windows XP Desktop.

******Please Note******. Due to the proliferation of the Blaster and Welchia Worm/Virus
Be aware that a Clean Install will leave your system vulnerable to the Blaster and Welchia worms. Do not go on line until you have enabled XP's firewall first. Then visit the Windows Update Site and download and install ONLY the Critical Updates including Service Pack1a. You will also need to install java which you can get from here or here

Finally run Defrag before you start reinstalling all your other programs or running the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard to restore that data. Good Luck

Visual Step by Step Manual for XP Pro (this should be applicable for XP Home as well)