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How to perform a Repair Install of Windows XP

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This is a quick guide on how to perform a repair install of Windows XP.


  • Windows XP CD
  • Windows XP Product Code
  • CD/DVD Drive

Step 1: Starting the Windows XP Setup Utility

You will need a Windows XP CD, and a working CD/DVD drive.

Please insert the Windows XP CD into the CD drive, and start up your computer. If your computer is not set to start up off of a CD, then you will need to find out how to open the "Boot Menu". On a Dell you will want to press the
key on your keyboard when you see the Dell logo on your screen (sometimes you need to press the key multiple times). I would believe that HP and Compaq computers use the same key as Dell, but they will say what key to press in the lower-right corner. Toshibas will say what key to press just under the Toshiba logo.

Once the boot menu is open, you will need to select to start your computer off of the CD or DVD drive. Sometimes they display the names of the devices as the model numbers of the drives, so if they are confusing then just look through the model numbers until you find one that says
, or
. Boot menus usually require that you select the option you want by using the arrow keys on your keyboard, and then press the
once you have selected the option you want.

After you have selected to start the computer from the CD/DVD drive, the screen should turn black, and in the upper-left corner it will say "Press any key to boot from CD". At this point you can press any key on your keyboard to load the Windows XP Setup Utility.

Important Note:
If your computer uses a RAID setup for extra performance or data redundancy, then you will need a floppy disk drive to supply RAID drivers for the Windows XP Setup Utility. You will need to obtain these drivers from your computer manufacturer, motherboard manufacturer, or RAID card manufacturer. If you do not know if your computer has a RAID setup, then please ignore this note for now.

Step 2: Begin Setup

After the Windows XP Setup is finished loading, you should see the following screen:


At this point, please press Enter on your keyboard to continue with the setup.

Step 3: License Agreement

You will now be greeted with the Windows XP End-User License Agreement (or EULA for short). The screen will look like this:


If you have time, Microsoft expects you to read this agreement, but I will leave that up to you. When you are ready to continue, please press the F8 key on your keyboard to continue.

Step 4: Previous Installations

The Windows XP Setup will now search for any previous installations of Windows. If it finds one (which is what we expect it to do), then it will give you the option to repair it. You should see a screen similar to the one below:


If you do not see a screen like the one above, then it is possible that your computer uses a RAID setup for your hard drives, and you will need to contact your computer manufacturer to get drivers for the Windows XP Setup. It is also possible that your installation of Windows is too corrupt for the Windows XP Setup to recognize it, and you may need to run a chkdsk from the Recovery Console.

If you do see a screen like the one above, then you will need to select your installation of Windows using the arrow keys (the picture of the screen above only has one installation of Windows listed, and if yours looks the same then you don't need to worry about selecting the correct installation of Windows) and then press the R key on your keyboard to begin the repair install.

At this point the Windows XP Setup will begin copying files to your hard drive, and when it is done it will want to restart your computer (if you do not tell it to restart your computer then it will do it on its own after about 15 seconds) and then your computer will begin the repair install. It will ask you a few questions during this process, so answer them to the best of your ability. Usually the default options work fine, but you may want to make sure that the correct time zone is selected.

Step 5: Windows Product Code

During the repair install, you will need your Windows XP product code. This is usually found on the side, top, or back of your computer (laptops usually have it on the bottom). You will see a screen like the one below during the repair install which asks for the product code:


Please make sure that you type it in exactly as it appears in the sticker.

Step 6: After the Repair Install

Once the repair install is finished, you may need to reinstall drivers and some applications if they do not work correctly. Make sure to check and see if your files are all still there (the repair install is not supposed to touch them, so there shouldn't be any problems).

Important Note:
You will need to run Windows Update after performing a Repair Install, because it will replace all of the Windows System Files with ones from the CD, and you will no longer have any of the Windows Updates. You will also need to make sure that you install any Service Packs that you need to get your Windows XP installation back up to Service Pack 3.

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