How to upgrade the OS on a laptop with no CD or floppy?
January 29, 2008 11:52 AM   Subscribe

How do I upgrade from Win 2k to XP on a laptop with no CD or floppy and no option in the bios to boot from USB?

I have a Sony Vaio z505-JEK from 2000 which came preinstalled with Win2k. As it sits, it's useless to me because everything I'd like to use requires XP.

I've tried the BIOS to boot via USB (the only input it has, really) but it isn't an option.

I've tried to install Virtual PC, but it says it doesn't meet the requirements.

The Sony website doesn't seem to list this model on the support website.

If I can't get it to boot via USB are there any other options to update the OS on my machine? Can I update the BIOS somehow?
posted by monkeystronghold to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You can get laptop ide adapters which will allow you to install an IDE laptop drive in a desktop computer. That's how I installed linux on my vaio n505. Here's a random result from googling "laptop hd adapter"
posted by duckstab at 12:06 PM on January 29, 2008

I believe this is the Sony support page for your model:
posted by jmd82 at 12:12 PM on January 29, 2008

Specifically you'll need to remove the drive, install it in a new system, format the drive (NTFS) while making it bootable (copy system files), then copy your Windows XP disc onto the drive in a temp folder (say Windows_Install), reinstall the drive in the laptop, boot to DOS, and run the setup.exe.

It's been many years since I've done this. Back when computers still had floppy drives I had a boot disk which would allow me to format hard drives and copy the XP install files from the CD to the hard drive and then run setup - it was quite a bit faster than installing from the CD. That's not really the case anymore...

Anyway, you'll need to google up some directions for formating the laptop drive and making it bootable. I'm too lazy to go into much more detail.

Can I update the BIOS somehow?

Possibly. Have you checked the manufacturer's website? Do you have floppy drive?
posted by wfrgms at 12:18 PM on January 29, 2008

Cant you just put the CD contents on a flash drive, plug it in, copy the entire disc to the c: drive and run an in-place setup from there while running win2k? I dont think ive ever done this but it sounds doable.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:18 PM on January 29, 2008

Copy the /i386 folder to your C: drive over a network or USB connection and run setup from there. Use a subdirectory if it already has a c:\i386
posted by rhizome at 12:38 PM on January 29, 2008

Best answer: You shouldn't need to do any disk formatting as both XP and 2K ought to use NTFS by default. You can just move a copy of the XP install CD onto your drive as rhizome says above, just use a shared CD drive on another computer through the network. Save everything on the XP CD to a folder (such as "c:\winxp" or whatever). Run the setup.exe file from this directory in 2K. During the setup, XP will decide that its install source is wherever you ran the setup file from, and save this source in the registry. It will copy all needed setup files from your initial folder to wherever they need to go, and then when it reboots it will know where to look to find these files.

You'll have the option of upgrading to XP or installing alongside 2K. Unless you have a pressing need to keep 2K running, just do the upgrade. Whatever you do, do not do a clean install that includes formatting the drive, as your install files are living on the drive you would be formatting. The end result would be a dead system with a blank hard drive.
posted by caution live frogs at 3:12 PM on January 29, 2008

Also, I wouldn't mess with the i386 directory. Just copy the entire CD into a different folder. It's a little longer to do, but it will also ensure that you will have access to all the files on the XP CD just in case you get one of those annoying "Insert your Windows CD to continue..." prompts later on.
posted by caution live frogs at 3:13 PM on January 29, 2008

Best answer: I happen to have a z505-HE, which I believe is an earlier model than yours, and is a small/slim laptop with no internal CD drive. What I do have is an external cd that connects via the PC card slot. In the past few weeks I've installed Win98, Win2K and Ubuntu without a hitch, and ended up sticking with Ubuntu. One caveat about installing XP is these machines don't have a heck of a lot of memory, so it might run kind of slow.

Right now somebody appears to be selling a DVD drive for your unit on ebay for pretty cheap.

The other possibility is to try to connect an external drive using the Sony's firewire connection, if you can find one.

I'll have to admit that I didn't even try installing from USB, so I don't know that this is possible even with a bios upgrade. I have found that these Sony laptops can be a little persnickety with hardware drivers, and was pleasantly surprised that Ubuntu worked out of the box.
posted by SteveInMaine at 6:20 AM on January 30, 2008

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