How To Clean Install Windows XP (Part 1 of 3)

Plan Your Windows XP Clean Installation

Windows XP Splash Screen Windows XP Clean Install – Step 1 of 34

After serious system problems it’s often necessary to wipe your Windows XP system clean and start over from scratch – a procedure referred to as a “Clean Install”. This guide is broken into four parts for a total of 34 steps and will walk you through every part of the clean installation process.

The most important thing to realize before performing a clean installation of Windows XP is that all of the information on the drive that Windows XP is currently on (probably your C: drive) will be destroyed during this process. That means that if there’s anything you want to keep you should back it up to a CD or another drive prior to beginning this process.

Some things to consider backing up hat usually reside on the same drive as Windows XP (which we’ll assume is “C:”) include a number of folders located under C:\Documents and Settings\{YOUR NAME} such as Desktop, Favorites and My Documents. Also check these folders under other user’s accounts if more than one person logs onto your PC.

You should also locate the Windows XP product key, a 25-digit alphanumeric code unique to your copy of Windows XP. If you can’t locate it, there is a fairly easy way to find the Windows XP product key code from your existing installation, but this must be done before you reinstall.

When you’re absolutely sure sure that everything from your computer that you want to keep is backed up, proceed to the next step. Keep in mind that once you delete all of the information from this drive (as we’ll do in a future step), the action is not reversible!

Note: The steps and screen shots shown in these 34 steps refer specifically to Windows XP Professional but will also serve perfectly well as a guide to reinstalling Windows XP Home Edition.

Boot From the Windows XP CD

Press any key to boot from CD PromptWindows XP Clean Install – Step 2 of 34

To begin the Windows XP clean install process, you will need to boot from the Windows XP CD.

  1. Watch for a Press any key to boot from CD… message similar to the one shown in the screenshot above.
  2. Press a key to force the computer to boot from the Windows CD. If you do not press a key, your PC will attempt to boot to the operating system that’s currently installed on your hard drive. If this happens, simply reboot and try to boot to the Windows XP CD again

Press F6 to Install a Third Party Driver

Press F6 screen seen during the Windows XP setup process Windows XP Clean Install – Step 3 of 34

The Windows Setup screen will appear and a number of files and drivers necessary for the setup process will load.

Toward the beginning of this process, a message will appear that says Press F6 if you need to install a third party SCSI or RAID driver…. As long as you are performing this clean install from a Windows XP SP2 CD, this step is probably not necessary. On the other hand, if you’re reinstalling from an older version of the Windows XP installation CD and you have an SATA hard drive, you will need to press F6 here to load any necessary drivers. The instructions that came with your hard drive or computer should include this information.

For most users though, this step can be ignored.

Press ENTER to Set Up Windows XP

Windows XP Welcome to Setup Screen Windows XP Clean Install – Step 4 of 34

After the necessary files and drivers are loaded, the Windows XP Professional Setup screen will appear.

Since this will be a clean installation of Windows XP, press Enter to setup Windows XP now.

Read and Accept the Windows XP Licensing Agreement

Windows XP Licensing Agreement Page Windows XP Clean Install – Step 5 of 34

The next screen that appears is the Windows XP Licensing Agreement screen. Read through the agreement and press F8 to confirm that you agree with the terms.

Tip: Press the Page Down key to advance through the licensing agreement faster. This is not to suggest that you should skip reading the agreement though! You should always read a software’s “small print” especially when it comes to operating systems like Windows XP.

Pres ESC To Install a Fresh Copy of Windows XP

List of found Windows XP installations during the Windows XP setup process Windows XP Clean Install – Step 6 of 34

On the next screen, Windows XP Setup needs to know which Windows installation you want to repair or if you’d rather install a fresh copy of Windows XP.

An installation of Windows on your PC should already be highlighted, assuming Windows exists on there at all (it doesn’t need to). If you have multiple Windows installations then you’ll see them all listed.

Even though you may be repairing an issue with your computer, do not choose to repair the selected Windows XP installation. In this tutorial, we are installing a clean copy of Windows XP on the computer.

Press the Esc key to continue.

Delete the Existing Windows XP Partition

Deleting a partition during the Windows XP setup process Windows XP Clean Install – Step 7 of 34

In this step, you will delete the main partition on your computer – the space on the hard drive that your current Windows XP installation has been using.

Using the arrow keys on your keyboard, highlight the line for the C: drive. It probably says Partition1 or System though yours may be different. Press D to delete this partition.

Warning: This will remove all of the information on the drive that Windows XP is currently on (your C: drive). Everything on that drive will be destroyed during this process.

Confirm Knowledge of the System Partition

Confirmation screen when deleting a partition during Windows XP Setup Windows XP Clean Install – Step 8 of 34

In this step, Windows XP Setup warns that the partition you are trying to delete is a system partition that may contain Windows XP. Of course we know this because that is exactly what we’re trying to do.

Confirm your knowledge that this is a system partition by pressing Enter to continue.

Confirm Partition Deletion Request

Final confirmation screen for deleting a partition during the Windows XP setup process Windows XP Clean Install – Step 9 of 34

WARNING: This is your last chance to back out of the reinstallation process by pressing the Esc key. If you back out now and restart your PC, your previous Windows XP installation will boot normally with no loss of data, assuming it was working before you started this process!

If you’re sure you’re ready to proceed, confirm that you wish to delete this partition by pressing the L key.

Create a Partition

Selection of unpartitioned space to install Windows XP to during the setup proces Windows XP Clean Install – Step 10 of 34

Now that the previous partition is removed, all of the space on the hard drive is unpartitioned. In this step, you will create a new partition for Windows XP to use.

Using the arrow keys on your keyboard, highlight the line that says Unpartitioned space. Press C to create a partition on this unpartitioned space.

Warning Note: You may have other partitions on this drive and on other drives that may be installed in your PC. If so, you may have a number of entries here. Be careful not to remove partitions that you may be using as this will remove all data from those partitions permanently.

Please proceed to How To Clean Install Windows XP (Part 2 of 3) to continue.

Republished from About.com (View original version.)

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One comment on “How To Clean Install Windows XP (Part 1 of 3)

  1. Hi there, the whole thing is going well here and
    ofcourse every one is sharing information, that’s really
    excellent, keep up writing.

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