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Trying to install XP to blank HDD using ISO

by raabeyes / April 9, 2014 6:51 AM PDT

Hello Everyone,

For some quick background, I am an average techy. I would give myself 4 out of 10 in regards to understanding computers.

In this situation though, I am stumped, even after I have followed directions from numerous boards and forums.

The product:

And old Dell D620 Laptop. The operating system it came with was WIndows XP Pro. Years ago I upgraded to Vista. Oops.
Since that time- I have upgraded the internal HDD twice, and the last time Laptop worked it was running Win 7.

The situation:

HDD is dead again. I since have found an older Hitachi 2.5" HDD and wiped it clean with with DiskWipe. I want to use this HDD with this laptop.

I found an ISO of WIndows XP Pro. Its about 605MB. I don't have the original Windows XP disc, as the OS was preinstalled by Dell. I want to install this ISO onto Hitachi HDD.

I also have USB to SATA adapter if needed.

Whats not working?

Accoridng to simple instructions from nearly everyone, I shoudl burn the ISO to a disc. Check. I burned the ISO file to a DVD disc.

Next I inserted it into the laptops disc tray.

I have been told that once I turn on the laptop, the CPU should give me the option to boot from disc. Except it hasn't.

I have gone into the boot menu and chose for the CD/DVD as the boot device.

Restarted CPU.

Still nothing. I just get the message "Missing Operating System"

Of course I am missing it. Thats why I am trying to install it. Duh.

So to my questions:

Do I have to do anything with the Windows XP ISO file? Extract it? Zip it? Rename it?

WOuld I have better luck using my USB to SATA adapter, and try to install the ISO externally using my desktop computer as the conduit?

What if I load the ISO onto a USB stick instead of trying to install by disc?

I have read several things about using Dameon to "mount" the ISO? Should I be doing this?

Also I have downloaded the Windows XP Pro Boot from Microsofts website. KB310994. Not sure what this is, but every time I run it from my Desktop my cpu locks up.

Thanks for any help/suggestions you can offer. I am at my last rope here.

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All Answers

Best Answer chosen by raabeyes

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An ISO is an image.
by orlbuckeye / April 9, 2014 10:54 PM PDT

They are basically used to compress files and those file have to uncompressed to be executable files. I use Roxio to uncompress ISO files. I believe in Window the OS can handle ISO file files just like ZIP files of previous OS's.

The error your getting is generated because the pc is looking for a certain type of file. There are certain non OS type applications that will run the application before windows. Things like Imaging software (ghost and Acronis True Image) and partitian managers and anti-virus software.

When Dell sells you a new pc they install the OEM OS.
The best solution is to buy a new Windows Disk and install that.

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The best solution
by raabeyes / April 10, 2014 12:52 AM PDT
In reply to: An ISO is an image.

Thanks Buckeye.

And you nailed it, the best solution is to buy a new Windows disk.

Someone just told me that Microsoft is offering $100 if you trade in your old laptop.

If I can get mine to work (I assume MS wants "working" products) then I think that's the best route.

Thanks for taking the time to try to help me. Never really dealt with ISO images before, nut now I know so much more.

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Having the same problem
by adam1949 / December 15, 2015 1:15 AM PST
In reply to: An ISO is an image.

I refurbish and repair machines for charities. Before anyone gives this guy trouble over downloading ISOs to load I have been told the same thing but I can't get them to load on a blank HD At worst I think I am missing a command to run software. Microsoft makes ISO's available to reinstall hardrives that have been wiped or damaged by viruses when the owner has lost the OS disk and still has an installation key. Wise "Crackers" should look it up. Since MS does not support OS like XP and Vista the only way to obtain the software is to download the ISO. From my point of view I donate my time to people who need computers for job search and education who could otherwise not afford one. I can't afford to go out and purchase an OS for every machine I get. I load the OS and use the key provided then donate the machine. It's legal.

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Not here it isn't.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / December 15, 2015 9:15 AM PST

In the USA it's not and if you are doing this it can come back to haunt you years later.

Go ahead and play Robin Hood if you want, at least someone warned you.

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Crackers and Crumbs
by James Denison / December 21, 2015 1:59 PM PST
"Before anyone gives this guy trouble over downloading ISOs to load I have been told the same thing but I can't get them to load on a blank HD, At worst I think I am missing a command to run software. Microsoft makes ISO's available to reinstall hardrives that have been wiped or damaged by viruses when the owner has lost the OS disk and still has an installation key. Wise "Crackers" should look it up."

Unless the ISO has a bootable image, it won't boot from the CD or DVD it was burned to. For XP even windows 98 bootable image is sufficient. You can then run the winnt32.exe file instead and do a DOS based install of XP, even from the same non-bootable CD. This is old news.

The next problem is OEM software versus retail and the activation process. If the computer came from one of the larger manufacturers, not a "system builder" or home build, then the only "free" installation of XP is to get the reload discs from the manufacturer, or find copies of the same on EBay. If instead you an ISO of a retail disc, and do the DOS type install using winnt32 in the i386 folder, then you still need a Product Key to complete the install and then you have only 30 days before the activation virus takes over.

If you are in the habit of providing restored computers as donations, and they are from XP era, better to put a modern Linux desktop version on them like Mint, Kubuntu, Zorin, Mageia, Lubuntu, or others.

See for a listing by popularity, right column down the page a bit.
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PS - cheap "hard drive for linux"
by James Denison / December 21, 2015 2:18 PM PST

For less than $6 you can also provide a bootable drive that linux can be installed to, which you can't with windows, since it won't boot from a flashdrive.

It can be a full install, (tkaes 8 GB) or a LIVE version (takes 2GB) with "persistence", but whichever is used, a computer can boot from it and be used for job searching and saving data to other media (flashdrives, external hard drives, internal hard drive). If the LIVE version also has "persistence" set up it can also save the data, even though the system runs from RAMDRIVE it's booted into.

Mint MATE can run on as little as 1GB of RAM. If you need information on how to set such up, there's a Linux forum here, or consult the particular distro's forums on it.

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Re: iso
by Kees_B Forum moderator / December 21, 2015 2:24 PM PST

An iso-file usually (after you downloaded it) is a file on a hard disk. If you copy it to an optical disk (CD, DVD), it's a file on an optical disk That's NOT something you can use to install an OS. For that you need to burn the image using a program like IMGBURN (free). Then you can boot from it and install Windows XP (assuming it was an image of a Windows XP installation disk). You need a unique valid license code for each install.

But surely you know all that if your hobby is refurbishing PC's. And then certainly you know what to do (fix whatever the problem is) if the install doesn't work. So what's your problem?

If there's a license of money issue, I have to agree with James that Linux would be a perfect OS for job search and education. No need for Windows then.


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by Dafydd Forum moderator / April 9, 2014 6:58 AM PDT

You will fall foul of this. You will be refused activation by MS. Is this ISO cracked software?


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Cracked Software? What?
by raabeyes / April 9, 2014 12:17 PM PDT
In reply to: OEM.

Well it's great you think I am some kind of criminal.

All I am trying to do is get the Laptop back to its initial state. having upgraded to Vista, and then 7, MS got their fair share.

I am now just using an ISO image to try to set this back up. I have a XP license key that's on the bottom of the Laptop, I assume that was the OEM that stuck that there.

Regardless, I won't be refused activation, becuase I have a key, and if MS doesn't accept it there are ways we all know around this.

In the end I just want my computer to work.

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Actually you will
by Jimmy Greystone / April 9, 2014 12:28 PM PDT

Actually, you will, because that is a volume license key on the bottom of your computer, so it won't necessarily work with some random ISO you got off a torrent site. And after the comment basically stating your intent to use some kind of illegal crack to bypass activation if Microsoft won't give you an activation code, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the next time I stop by here this thread has been locked. No one here is particularly interested in being made an accessory to your conspiracy to commit software piracy would be my guess.

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harsh uneducated response
by adam1949 / December 15, 2015 1:28 AM PST
In reply to: Actually you will

Your assumption is that he did not download the ISO from Microsoft. Check it out. They do provide the software for down load and let the poor guy express his frustration. I have been working all day to run an ISO file to a wiped hard drive so I can donate it. NO profit on my part and I don't get to keep the machines. I do use the volume key and at least one of my downloads from Microsoft had several volume keys attached to it.

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That license key was only valid for the OEM version.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 9, 2014 1:05 PM PDT

Please don't dive into the minutia of Windows licenses. That key is invalid for what is usually the full retail version of XP.

Please avoid telling folk you are going to get around this or you may derail your discussion.

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Re: iso
by Kees_B Forum moderator / April 9, 2014 7:42 AM PDT

Assuming all of this legal (Davydd seems to think that it might not) it all depends on one crucial detail you didn't tell: how exactly did you burn that iso file to DVD?

Some people don't know how to burn an iso-file to disk. They burn it as a file in stead of as an image! That doesn't work, of course.

I'd check the instructions on the site where you "found" this iso on how to burn it. Hint: IMGBURN. With some luck, it works with the license code on the original COA that came with your laptop.

As for that boot diskettes: tells how to use them.


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Link only.
by Dafydd Forum moderator / April 9, 2014 7:47 AM PDT
In reply to: Re: iso
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Probably because
by Jimmy Greystone / April 9, 2014 9:54 AM PDT
In reply to: Re: iso

Probably because XP was never officially distributed as an ISO outside of very limited channels. Of those channels, the bulk of the legal XP ISO images came from Microsoft's MSDN TechNet subscriptions, aimed at developers and costing a couple grand a year. So if the OP had obtained the image from there, the odds of them needing to ask help on how to do anything with it are remote. I have seen academic versions distributed as a disk image, but every time it was always accompanied by a program that would basically download the image and then burn it to disc for you. So again, the odds of this ISO image being obtained via less than reputable means goes up.

Further, I'm going to borrow from an old chestnut: Friends don't let friends install XP. Which is borrowed from a drunk driving advertising campaign and since both of them describe potentially dangerous activities (albeit in different ways) probably the best thing you can do is just walk away.

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