Installing XP on a Laptop without a CD Rom or Floppy

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Installing XP on a Laptop without a CD Rom or Floppy Drive?

If you are buying a laptop without a CD Rom or Floppy Drive off ebay then this guide will explain how to get Windows XP installed.  Quite alot of the smaller laptops tend to require an external CD Rom or Floppy Drive and will only boot if they are the same make as the laptop.  The Dell X Series of laptops and the Toshiba Portege laptops are set up like this.

This guide is aimed at Advanced Computer users so if you do not understand any of this guide do not attempt it, buy a laptop that comes with a CD Rom and Floppy Drive to make your life easier.

Tools required for this guide:

  1. A laptop capable of running Windows XP
  2. A desktop PC
  3. A 2.5inch to 3.5 inch Hard Drive Adaptor (This will alow you to plug a laptop hard drive inside your PC available from maplin)
  4. A Windows XP CD with a Product Key
  5. A Windows 98 CD
  6. A Windows 98 Boot Floppy Disk (Or search google for 98 boot disk and you should fine one to download)
  7. Screwdrivers for taking the laptop apart.
Installing Windows XP:

1.) Remove the Hard Drive from your laptop (Some models there will be one screw to remove the hard drive if it is in a caddy, others will require the whole laptop taking apart)

2.) Use the 2.5 to 3.5 inch Hard Drive Adaptor to plug your laptop hard drive into your desktop PC (UNPLUG ANY OTHER HARD DRIVES INSIDE YOUR PC SO YOU DO NOT ACCIDENTLY FORMAT THEM!)

3.) Insert the Windows 98 boot disk into your PC and boot from it

4.) Choose to boot without CD Rom Support

5.) Hopefully if you followed my instructions above you will have disconnected your PC's other Hard Drives and your laptop hard drive should be assigned the letter C:

6.) Type "format c: /s" without the quotes " and this will format your laptop hard drive and make it bootable.

7.) The next part can be done through the command prompt but it is much easier to do it from within Windows on your desktop PC to make sure you copy everything.

8.) Plug in your other Hard Drive(s) inside your PC and boot into Windows (Make sure you have Master/Slave jumpers set correctly)

9.) Once Windows has booted it should detect your laptop hard drive and assign it a letter, e.g. E:

10.) Put your Windows XP CD Rom inside your PC and copy the i386 folder from the XP CD onto your laptop hard drive in my example it is the E: drive.

11.) Next insert the Windows 98 CD into your PC and copy smartdrv.exe from the root of the CD onto your laptop hard drive.

12.) Open on your 98 CD and look for a file called himem.sys, extract this file and place it onto your laptop hard drive.

13.) Next open notepad and type the following without the quotes "device=himem.sys"

14.) Go to File and Save As.  Type "config.sys" without the quotes and save it to your laptop hard drive.

15.) Now we are good to go so put the laptop hard drive back inside your laptop!

16.) Your laptop should boot to the C: prompt when you turn it on.

17.) Type all of these commands below without the quotes:

"smartdrv.exe" (Press enter)
"cd i386" (Press enter)
"winnt.exe" (Press enter)

18.) Now the Windows XP setup should start and you are good to go!

If the Laptop has an ethernet card and you have a server running Windows Server 2003 you can use RIS (Remote Install Services) to push XP down to the laptop.  Not many people have access to Server 2003 so I am not going to write a guide on how to do it but it is another way for the IT Professionals out there.

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