Solved How to get my WIN XP on a DELL 8400 to boot

June 24, 2014 at 14:25:01
Specs: Windows XP
I want to fix my un-bootable WIN XP *OR* transfer *everything* from this 12 y.o. WIN XP (on a DELL 8400) to an appropriate WIN 8 version. But my XP won't open (missing or corrupt: Windows\system32\config\system). I lost my Setup CD ROM. I lost my password to open a repair function. I do have my original purchase paperwork to prove I am the rightful, original owner of my XP.

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June 24, 2014 at 15:22:56
Is your intent to install Windows 8 on a 12 year old computer? If so, I suggest you rethink that idea.

If you are planning on getting a new computer you can either install the old hard drive into the new computer or connect it using a USB docking device.

The hard drive doesn't need to be boot-able when installed as a second hard drive. You should be able to read all the data, assuming you didn't encrypt the hard drive in the Dell.

You can't transfer programs. Any that you have disk for and are compatible with Windows 8 will need to be installed again on the new platform.

I assume you do NOT have any backup/ images? In the future you should get into the habit of performing regular backups of at least your personal files.

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June 24, 2014 at 16:16:23
✔ Best Answer
Did this Dell come with a "proper" (Dell badged or maybe still M$) XP disk; or did it come with recovery disk? Twelve years ago usually one received a "proper" XP disk but occasionally a recovery disk; and later only a recovery disk; and then of course later still only a recovery partition...

Have you tried the assorted boot options (F8); Safe-mode, Last know good config etc.?

Likely your first concern is your personal files etc; as likely they aren't all copied safe elsewhere as well as being on the hard drive?

Presuming so... download and burn to DVD an ISO for Ubuntu. Boot with this disk (it's a Linux variant). It will load into RAM only; and the hard drive is merely a resource for the Linux style OS. Then you can access "all" your files - and copy them to DVD and/or an external hard drive. Verify the copies are truly accessible too on at least one works computer... - is where to find the ISO (free).

Then set about fixing the system:

offers one way...

This one is "interesting: to say the least; but haven't tried it so can't comment further:

This one uses a Linux boot and then takes you through the whole process of recovering a working (undamaged) file. XP (windows in general I think these days) makes backups of last decent/successful boot up; and in effect you are going after a set of those files - which are not instantly available... You would start at step- 3 once you have booted up with the Ubuntu DVD.

This one (use Recovery Console approach) requires a CD of course...

But the Recovery Console can lead to loss of data in some situations... Whereas a repair installation doesn't; but still wise first to safeguard your personal files before doing either.

is an excellent discussion about various ways to "fix" XP... but they require a cd..

If you can borrow (and copy - it's legal) an XP cd (from wherever) as long as it's the same type as your installation, you can go down the Michael Stevens path... (a Repair installation). In other words... If your XP installation was (is) an OEM then all you need is an OEM disk - and you use "your" key. If your XP is retail (non-OEM) then you need a retail disk - and again use your key.

XP disks are out there in clearance-land and also on eBay; and at some computer fairs. And likely you may have chum (or chum-ess) who has an XP disk that will do - and which you can legally copy - but use "your" key... If you were in the UK (I'm presuming you're across the pond and south of the land of Maple syrup...) then one could easily provide a suitable copy. But I'm sure they're arond in your area fairly easily.

But I'd first safeguard all those personal files; then follow the routines that use a Linux boot to restore/replace the damaged files from backup... And if that doesn't pan out then consider the XP disk routines...

When you do get it all up and running again... make a backup of the installation; Acronis and other similar utilities are ideal for this... Make two copies, label and date them; keep safe and store each away from the other... And then find an appropriate XP disk - if you haven't by then?

Incidentally - although Dell may no-longer be really into/supporting XP as once they dun... if you were to contact them and provide your proof of ownership etc., possibly they may help and provide you with an XP disk appropriate to your system? Worth a try at least?

message edited by trvlr

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June 24, 2014 at 20:45:20
Check Riider's # 2 here:

for a link to an XP iso download. Your Dell originally came with a COA/product key sticker on it that you can use if you do a fresh install.

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Related Solutions

June 27, 2014 at 07:54:28
Hi again,
I was not able to make an ISO disk as suggested. Is there a way to access my C: drive BEFORE my XP tries to access my un-bootable WIN XP? I've already tried all of the options available on the WIN XP F12 and the F8 boot paths ("Onboard or USB Floppy Drive", "Onboard or USB CD-ROM Drive" and nothing connects to my external 3 GB, backup drive connected via USB.

**I omitted mentioning failure of the WIN XP F12 Boot Device Menu:
"Boot to Utility Partition" This looked like I'd be able to get to C: this way. Nope...It could not find a partition.

Is there a way to cgreat or designate a utility partition before asking to boot to it???

Hoping someone has time to help me on this.


I just don't remember how to use these repair features, please help.


message edited by LuigiM

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June 27, 2014 at 09:07:10
Can you not download and burn the ISO for Ubuntu (at least) to a DVD; then boot with that and access the hard drive? Another disk to make is this one:

as it allows assorted options; and would allow to recover/safeguard files; and also very likely resolve your current/initial problem.

And this site discusses using the actual Bart's disc (they tell you where to download the ISO - again..) and also how to use it to resolve your current problems.

If you're (for whatever reasons) unable to download any ISO and burn etc. to DVD then... Perhaps approach whomever (a friend or three) and ask them make the DVD for you. Then boot etc. as in earlier posts above... to recover data; and if you have the appropriate DVD burned then likely afterwards resolve the current problem?

Check the copies of your data/files are truly accessible on at least one other working system - just to be sure all your files are OK - before dealing with the current boot problem

Otherwise if no ISO burned to a DVD... remove the drive from it's current location; attach it with a usb adapter cable set to another working computer. Then you can access it as a standard usb device...

Such cable sets come in assorted flavours, Some for EIDE only, some SATA only; and some for both. Logically get one that does both. They cost very few pennies - but don't buy the cheapest (unless it's on "special")?

They have an external ac-adapter to power the drive; and it takes but a few minutes to get it all up and running.

Amazon has them; as do eBay of course; and likely many/most local PC stores too...

You're looking for:

usb hard drive adapter

Or maybe use a usb dock for EIDE and/or SATA - depending on what drive type you have. These "docks" usually come with an external ac-adapter again to power the drive.

Look for: usb hard drive dock

They allow you to slot the drive into a simple docking unit - which will have an external power-supply; connect to usb port on a computer and you're away...

Some like, and some don't like, Western Digital drives; check carefully what drive you have (make/model) before you buy for compatibility...

In both the above scenarios - read the comments form those who have bought wihich-ever you are considering.

Don't give up on data access/recovery/safeguard - yet. Persevere as above and then resolve the booting problems... Data safeguarding ought to be top of the list at this time; then repair routines.

message edited by trvlr

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