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Popular | February 21, 2008

Installing Windows XP

Installing Windows XP is generally an easy process. Here are a few tips for completing a new, full install of WIndows XP. These tips apply to both the Home and Pro versions of Windows XP, OEM and retail versions.

First, boot directly from the CD, don’t try to install from a running version of Windows. When booting from the CD you’ll see a message that says ‘Press any key to boot from CD…’ and it only lasts about 3 seconds, so don’t miss it.

The rest of the install is easy. After the license agreement, you’ll be asked where you want to install Windows. In most cases there is only one hard drive with one partition (all hard drives are organized into partitions, or sections), so that choice is easy. If several partitions are listed, and you are sure that they don’t contain important data, then you can safely delete them all.

If you are starting with a new hard drive or if you’ve deleted the partitions, then you simply select the desired hard drive and press enter. Setup will automatically create a partition using the entire disk and offer to format it. If you are asked, choose NTFS for the file system. Choose quick format if you know that the disk is healthy, otherwise the full format will check for bad sectors, and could take up to 30 minutes.

The rest is all automatic. If you run into problems, though, read on.

Troubleshooting Tips

If your computer won’t boot from the CD, you probably just need to change the computer’s startup sequence. On newer computers, you may be able to hit F12 to select a temporary boot device. Otherwise you’ll need to change a setting in your PC’s BIOS (Built-In Operating System).

The BIOS setup menu is normally accessed by pressing a key during the few seconds before Windows starts, usually the [Del] or [F2] key. Different PCs have different BIOS menus, but look for a way to change the boot sequence, or startup order. You’ll want to make sure that the CDROM is set as the first option.

If you see an error message during installation, there are several options. If it was a file copy error, then you likely have either a defective install CD or faulty PC components. The easiest way to test the install CD is to copy the CD’s contents to a blank folder on another computer. If all the files copy correctly, then the CD is probably fine.

Next, try removing and disconnecting any extra devices and components, like printers, external storage, non-essential PCI cards, etc. Then try the install again.

The final step is to have your computer hardware tested. This is best done by your local computer technician. Try to avoid large chains like Best Buy and Staples. You could also run some tests yourself if you want to avoid the expense of a technician. We offer ‘Diagnostic CDs’ in our online store that allow you to thoroughly test your PC’s RAM and hard disks, the most common sources of hardware trouble. Once you isolate the faulty component, replace it and start over with the install.

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