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Krister's Blog
krister at hallergard dot com

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Installing Windows XP onto a USB2 Flash Drive

It seems as if Microsoft doesn't want us to be able to install full versions of Windows on USB flash drives. In order to succeed it is necessary to recreate the installation CD with registry changes as to the USB drivers, like instead of being "InputDeviceSupport", the USB drivers are promoted to "BootBusExtenders". The background and full instruction can be found in this link.

I wanted to copy over an up to date Windows XP - SP3 installation, 30GB - onto a SanDisk Cruzer Edge 64GB, USB Flash Drive. First I created a "slipstreamed" SP3 - then modified it according to the above mentioned instructions and from this I created a bootable installation CD.

With this installation CD it is possible to install straight onto the flash drive - that is all there is to it! But it is a very slow process! And installing all the programs is an even slower process. I decided to do it a different way:

XP SP3 with amended USB

View Video 4 min

USB message

I copied over the whole XP installation to the USB-Stick as described here - also a very slow process. Yes, it is important to have deleted the entries for mounted devices (HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\MountedDevices) in the registry of the source. And then used the installation CD created as per above and chose the second R (not the first R for repairing the boot sector) to repair (install over) - if you don't get this option, disconnect all your drives except the USB-stick!. Yes, another very slow process! Ignored all the about ten warnings similar to this one.

It is a good idea to backup the registry of the source before deleting the entries for mounted devices - and restore it after having copied over to the USB-stick.

And after booting the USB-stick it is a good idea to review the drive letters with Windows Disk Management or my preference, the EXT2 Volume Manager (Ext2Fsd.exe). This review should also be done when booting the USB-stick on a different host PC.

Running Windows XP on this USB-stick is very slow - as if I haven't been told - yes, it is so slow that it is hardly worth having. But it does work! Another problem is that it might not run on PC:s with hardware different from the PC used for installation. It did not even work on my wife's Laptop.

To have some use for it, I have added the Ultimate Boot CD for Windows UBCD4Windows, and I intend turning this 64 GB USB-stick into a Multi-Boot drive, with Windows XP as the first partition of four.