THIS WAS ORIGINALLY POSTED IN THE XP FORUM AND THEN MOVED BY THE MODERATOR TO THE WINDOWS 8 FORUM. DESPITE ULTIMATELY RECOGNIZING IT IS ACTUALLY AN XP TOPIC, THE MODERATOR REQUIRED ME TO COPY AND PASTE IT BACK TO THIS FORUM. SO EXCUSE THE ABNORMAL THREADING OF THE DISCUSSION.
I got a little nervous when thinking of doing a fresh install of Windows 8.1 on my new laptop so I decided to do a fresh install of Windows XP Home on my other old laptop first. This was to gain a bit of experience and also to ensure I have a working PC in the event of a glitch in the fresh install of Windows 8.1 - just wanted to be sure I could continue to get work done in the interim if something went wrong. However, doing a fresh install of XP turned out more problematic than I thought, for the following reasons:
- I had no CD - never did. Neither Compaq nor Circuit City gave me one. I lost the restore media (if I ever created it back in 2004 or so).
- I spent a lot of time researching slipstreaming an install including all the service packs but could feel confident in none of the sources of the software on the web nor in my ability to properly follow the processes for slipstreaming
- I spent a lot of time researching sources on the web for the straight XP OS (without the service packs) but none gained my trust
- There is conflicting info out there about whether it is necessary to install SP1 and then SP2 before installing SP3
- I finally decided the answer was that going straight to the SP3 service pack was the path I would try but could not find a trusted source of SP3
- Microsoft site has SP3 on it but the web page includes statements intended to scare non-IT-geek consumers (like me) away from using it. After some nail-biting and failing to find other solutions, I decided I would just try to use what Microsoft offers and see if I could pull it off. If not, I might have to start all over again.
How I Moved Forward
Note that, first I backed up any files I wanted to ensure remained safe from disaster. I also re-partitioned my HDD, reducing the size of the C: drive to be only a dozen or so Gigs larger than the total used space on the disk. In this way, I could create a ISO backup of the partition and keep its size to a minimum. I also downloaded all the applicable drivers from the HP site.
For the XP installation media I wound up deciding to try using the i386 folder that has been on my laptop from the start. Sites on the web mention that the OS is often on the HDD and that all the necessary files are in this folder. To initiate an install one has only to click a single file - specifically the winnt32.exe file. Now, this install method does not format your HDD (which is one thing I had wanted to do in order to start completely fresh). But I decided to see if it would work and provide me a sufficient performance boost without reformatting. It worked for me.
Note that the process did NOT allow me to place the install on the C: drive. Makes sense since the install requires info from the existing files on the C: drive in order to install the fresh OS. So I'm REALLY glad I had created a new partition on the HDD. Formerly the HDD was just one 60GB partition labeled "C:"
The next challenge was to get SP3 installed. This meant downloading the SP from Microsoft, burning the ISO file to a CD, installing an ISO image reader on the machine, and, I thought, spending lots of time trying to figure out how to install SP3 on a single machine (since the download is intended for IT professionals installing on multiple machines over a network). As it turns out, there was NOTHING remotely complicated about the install. It's clear Microsoft is intentionally scaring consumers toward upgrading to Windows 8 rather than attempting to complete a fresh XP install.
A challenge I had not anticipated was trying to use the included IE6 browser to install Avast Antivirus and to perform other internet-related tasks. The problem is that lots of sites cannot be rendered on IE6.
- Solution: Upgrade to the best version of IE that will run on XP. Problems: I had a lot of trouble determining which version could be installed effectively. Also, I could not reliably find a source for IE8, for example.
- Solution?: Install Chrome. Problem: The Chrome download would not work under IE6.
- Solution: Install the latest version of Firefox which then allowed me to install Chrome. This worked. I won't use IE6 on the machine at all. This will prevent me from even considering using Microsoft's Bing as my search engine. <One very stiff middle finger raised toward Redmond>.
I installed Avast without a hitch and ran a full scan - no problems.
Today I read an XP thread on this forum with a post highly recommending running the Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT) provided by Microsoft and running it monthly. I readily found the page with MSRT for XP, downloaded and installed. Began a scan. A few minutes later, got a BSOD with a full screen of suggested actions the first of which was to shut down and restart to see if it happens again. It hasn't but I haven't yet tried to run the MSRT again. Meantime, the laptop is working just fine.
What Can Still Go Wrong?
- Activation: Some have complained on the web that they have had trouble "activating" the OS (which has to be done within 30 days of installing). I have not yet attempted this. I suspect I won't have issues since I used the i386 folder that was placed on the machine by HP. So there shouldn't be any mismatch between the software's ID and the motherboard. Keeping my fingers crossed. [Update: Activation took 30 seconds via the internet].
- MSRT might fire up and cause another BSOD. If so, I may uninstall MSRT (if I can) and just rely on Avast for protection. Note that the primary use for this machine is as a music server. Spotify will be the almost the only web property accessed via my WiFi. I will do no email, messaging, nor social media on the machine.
I hope others find my experience useful. Your mileage may vary.
=================below is response from another user===================
allbenatt, thanks for sharing your experience!
There was a long running XP Topic where the OP, also with an HP computer, could have used your solution. Actually the way you installed, being it was to another partition, it was formatted prior to you taking this action, so it didn't really need it again. Too, all OS's requires some type of formatting of the partition to install, in this case it was likely NTFS. No, it wasn't the type of XP format that would take hours to complete on some larger drives, which was probably more secure of an erase than today's quick formatting, but one was one.
So how did the OS install process go? Install to the partition next to it? I'm curious about this, and may try it on my last XP computer just to see it in action. It's 60GB in size, but I could shrink the actual XP partition to 25GB or so, and there's a Recovery partition at the end. However, many doesn't have that, could have once been there, but was removed, tempting to some because in 2003/04, 40GB HDD's were the norm. Actually the one I have came with that size one, but I replaced it with a 60GB 7200 rpm one, the OEM one ran at 4200 rpm (or in that range).
That SP3 download of over 300MB, I've had that on CD since 2010. Anytime I install XP these days, seems like Windows Update won't connect w/out it (an error message will show). Installing SP3 fixes this. Though here as of late, haven't done much XP installing, other than some virtual machines for me to tinker with.
Had you updated after installing SP3, IE8 would have been among the first set of updates offered, though I've also seen it for download in the past, an IE8/Bing combo for XP, and here at FileHippo, where I get a lot of software. If installing to a fresh, unupdated XP, it will fetch some needed updates, including the MSRT, and install. Reboot & finish updating.
So if I could free up 25-30GB in space, and format the partition, I can install XP fresh?
Finally, can the original one be safely deleted after install, than with a partition tool, move the new XP install to the left?
I'm asking these questions because many has torched XP installs, and if this would restore their OS's, would be fantastic.
Edited by allbenatt, 08 January 2015 - 08:35 PM.