Reinstalling WinXP
February 7, 2005 7:30 AM   Subscribe

After a few hours of Google researching over the weekend, I could not find a simple, understandable guide for formatting my hard drive and re-installing Windows XP. I'm more interested in the actual process and less interested in being reminded to "backup everything." Does anyone know where I can find such a resource?
posted by LouMac to Computers & Internet (19 answers total)
This is a very handy site
posted by RMALCOLM at 7:45 AM on February 7, 2005

The Windows XP CD is self-booting. If you start your PC with the CD in the drive, it should bring up a screen that says "press any key to boot from CD." That loads the installation system, which includes the option to delete your current partition (the hard drive) and then re-install XP from scratch.

That's pretty much the actual process.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:47 AM on February 7, 2005

That's pretty much the actual process.

Beaten to the punch.

Just about every version of Windows install CDs after 98 includes an option at boot to wipe the HD. At least, XP, 2000 and 2003 do. If you want to go old-school, you could throw a bootable DOS disk into the FDD with a copy of FORMAT.COM on it, then format your hard drive manually. The older NT versions of FORMAT will probably work with NTFS.

Jesus that's a lot of abbreviations. Sorry about that.

Anyway, I'll one-up RMALCOM's link and give you this comprehensive Windows boot-disk tutorial. It's so kick-ass I've had to sit on pillows for the past two years.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:58 AM on February 7, 2005

Thanks, y'all. I'm fairly confident that I'll still find a way to completely hose my computer. If I'm asking for laptop purchasing advice next week, you'll know why.
posted by LouMac at 9:04 AM on February 7, 2005

Lou, I was about to post what C_D and XQ put up. It's a really straightforward process. It limits your options pretty well, as long as you are clear that you really want to format. Once you tell it to go, it goes.
posted by TeamBilly at 9:13 AM on February 7, 2005

Hmmm, I always hear that an unpatched system will be hax0red within minutes of being put on the net again. How do you patch easily before going online?
posted by grouse at 9:37 AM on February 7, 2005

grouse, an unpatched system can be hax0red within minutes of being put online. Can is not the same as will; it's not even the same is 'is likely to be.' It would be tremendously unlikely that you would get a virus or a stern h4x0ring if you made a point of downloading the patches before doing anything else (like using Outlook).
posted by willpie at 9:47 AM on February 7, 2005

grouse, you install a freeware firewall that you've burned to CD, and then plug in your network cable and go to windows update.
posted by Jairus at 9:49 AM on February 7, 2005

...and willpie is completely incorrect. I've had several test systems get hacked literally within seconds of plugging in the network cable.
posted by Jairus at 9:51 AM on February 7, 2005

How do you patch easily before going online?

You do what's called slipstreaming.

1 Windows Install CD
1 Service Pack (the full download, not the small one) (for example, here's the 2000 SP4)
1 CD Burner software

1. Extract boot sector from Windows install CD. (Or download one here.)
2. Copy /i386 directory of install CD to your HD.
3. Unpack service pack (servicepackfilename.exe -x)
4. Slipstream the service pack (servicepackfilename.exe -s:c:\whereveryouputthei386directory)
5. Open up the bootfiles zip. Select the correct CDROM_Ix file
6. Fire up Nero. Choose BOOT-CD/DVD, Load Segment: 07C0, Sectors: 4.
7. Select the i386 directory and the root directory files you want to include
8. Burn at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

This is all covered in more detail in the link I originally provided.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:11 AM on February 7, 2005

You can also order a CD of XP Service Pack 2 from Microsoft's website. It's free.
posted by neckro23 at 10:44 AM on February 7, 2005

To prevent your box from being pwned as soon as you boot it up, pick up a cheap Ethernet router (Linksys, DLink, Netgear -- whatever's on sale for $20-$30 at Best Buy) and stick that between your PC and your Internet connection. By default these almost all have DHCP and NAT enabled and the DMZ disabled. That means your machine can get out to the Internet (for, say, Windows Update), but no machine on the Internet can get to you. This is really all the protection you need against hax0ring and you don't have to worry about installing software on your box and keeping it up-to-date. As a bonus, it lets you use more than one machine off your Internet connection.
posted by kindall at 10:51 AM on February 7, 2005

I'm thrilled to see this question because I need to do this too. I have just one question: this h4x0ring, what is it? I speak no leet.
posted by Miko at 11:03 AM on February 7, 2005

hax0r is l33tsp3ak for "hacker." Being hax0red is like being pwned. I mean owned. I mean hacked.
posted by grouse at 12:32 PM on February 7, 2005

LouMac don't worry about the hosing. I can't think of anyway you could actually damage you machine with a modern incarnation of windows on modern hardware (anything that came stock with a 20GB HD). The worst that could happen is you'd have to reformat and start again.

Kindall is right. Software firewalls are mostly useless unless ran on machines other than the one you are protecting.

Miko h4x0ring == hacking; hax0red == hacked
posted by Mitheral at 12:35 PM on February 7, 2005

Sweet, thanks again everyone. I've already got a router, and I've ordered an XP SP2 CD. Now I just hope that XP contains all or most of the drivers I will need.
posted by LouMac at 1:10 PM on February 7, 2005

Thanks, y'all. I'm fairly confident that I'll still find a way to completely hose my computer. If I'm asking for laptop purchasing advice next week, you'll know why.

Well, formatting the hard drive is basicaly an intentional (temporary) hosing. you can't get less functional then that, so there's nothing to worry about.
posted by delmoi at 2:26 PM on February 7, 2005

Danger, Will Robinson, Danger. While re-installing Windows on a desktop PC is fine, doing so on a laptop comes with extra pitfalls, mainly in the area of drivers.

Most laptops have especially custom hardware inside them, and Windows probably won't be able to identify many of the things inside it, usually leading to annoying problems like no power control, dodgy screen resolutions, no network access, etc.

I highly suggest that you either:
a) Use the restore CD that came with your laptop instead of a Windows CD.
b) Go to your laptop manufacturer's web site and download all the drivers you can find for it, plus any instructions they may supply on re-installing Windows.
posted by Mwongozi at 4:28 PM on February 7, 2005

fwiw, there's a wizard based Windows slipstream utility here. also check out this site if you want to go over the harder process of integrating apps and drivers into your XP CD (basically, making your own OEM recovery disk).
posted by mrg at 9:47 PM on February 7, 2005

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