Maybe this partitioning scheme wasn't as clever as I thought ...
June 7, 2008 10:30 AM   Subscribe

Is it possible to reinstall Windows XP on a small partition (~20 GB) of a single 300 GB hard drive?

When I installed Windows XP originally, I made a small partition for Windows and left the rest of the disc unpartitioned. After installing SP2 (when Windows can detect hard drives greater than 127 GB), I partitioned the rest of the 300 GB hard drive for everything unrelated to the OS. I did this to allow Windows to be reinstalled without having to worry about backing up and restoring hundreds of GB of personal data.

However, today when pondering an OS reinstall, I realized that the installer on the Windows XP disc can't correctly handle HDs greater than 127 GB. It doesn't detect my HD being one 20 GB partition and one 280 GB partition. Instead it just sees one 127 GB partition of an unknown type. Obviously this means I can't just nuke the Windows partition and reinstall the OS by itself.

Aside from backing up the 280 GB partition and restoring it after reinstall up to SP2, is there any way to reinstall Windows XP without affecting the other partition?
posted by Nelsormensch to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
To answer your question, XP w/ SP2 can fit comfortably in 20GB.
posted by mpls2 at 10:36 AM on June 7, 2008

Best answer: You can probably get an up-to-date installation CD from Microsoft or through the original OEM -- though in your situation, I'd have very few moral qualms about seeking out a torrented ISO of XP SP2 matching the version for which you have a product key.
posted by holgate at 10:44 AM on June 7, 2008

20gigs is a lot for a basic XP install. You'll be fine. Of course youre better off fixing your install disk to break the 28-bit limit.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:55 AM on June 7, 2008

Best answer: You could make a Windows XP disc with SP3 slipstreamed. You'll need to download the full SP3, then use nLite to create the updated version. nLite has a lot of extra options too, to make re-installs easy.
posted by punilux at 11:08 AM on June 7, 2008

Actually, I see SP2 is still available if you don't want to make too many changes at once.
posted by punilux at 11:15 AM on June 7, 2008

I am currently running XP on a windows with a 6GB hard drive and no other storage, so it's definitely possible.
posted by Shepherd at 12:51 PM on June 7, 2008

Er... on a laptop.
posted by Shepherd at 12:51 PM on June 7, 2008

Running a 10 GB WinXP partition on a dual boot Macbook here. My old desktop computer only had a 20 GB HD (among its other crapulent features) and it was fine. If you have external media storage you will be good.
posted by sararah at 2:17 PM on June 7, 2008

Seconding using nLite to slipstream SP3 into your original XP disc. If for some reason that doesn't work, Paul Thurrott also wrote a detailed XPSP3 slipstream guide that doesn't use nLite.
posted by cnc at 5:23 PM on June 7, 2008

Response by poster: Excellent, I didn't even think about just getting SP2 on the install disc. Thanks!
posted by Nelsormensch at 9:37 PM on June 7, 2008

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