|Do you have an XP CD, preferably of the same version, Home or Pro, as on the computer ?|
In order to be able to use the Product Key that's on the official Microsoft label on the outside of the computer case and have it accepted by Setup, it must be either
- an XP Re-installation CD that came with the same brand name computer model, or that you bought from the brand name's web site for your model. (The first disk of a Recovery disk set for most brand name computers that had XP on them is an XP Re-installation CD, however that may not apply to a netbook model - in that case it may have a Recovery disk set that is a multi disk archive to reload everything on the hard drive that was originally installed - that would work with a USB optical drive).
- a regular Microsoft OEM XP CD of the same version as on the Microsoft label, Home or Pro - it has "For distribution with a new PC only." printed on it and the Microsoft holograms.
You could buy or borrow a USB optical drive, or you could do most of the following by removing your drive and connecting it to another computer that has a working operating system (DO NOT boot from your drive on the other computer - XP will not load all the way from your drive even when there's nothing wrong with it if the two mboards are more than a little different).
If you buy yourself or borrow a USB connected optical drive, or in any case, you should do this first:
- Check your hard drive with the manufacturer's diagnostics.
See the latter part of response 1 in this:
If you don't have a floppy drive, you can get a CD image diagnostic utility from most hard drive manufacturer's web sites, but obviously you would need to make a burned CD, preferably a CD-R for best compatibility, on another computer if you need to.
Seagate's Seatools will test any brand of hard drive.
Do the long test.
The bootable Dos versions of SeaTools can be used even if Windows is not working properly.
The Windows version of SeaTools can be used in Windows if Windows works properly, and it can test hard drives that are in an external enclosure (the bootable Dos versions of SeaTools can't do that).
If the hard drive itself tests okay, any data problems found can be fixed, one way or another.
If the hard drive itself tests okay, you could
- make yourself a bootable CD, such as a Linux CD, boot your computer with it, and copy the personal data you do not want to lose to elsewhere.
You probably can't install Windows from a Windows CD in a USB optical drive, even if you can set your bios Setup Boot Order or similar settings to boot from a USB connected drive, because in most if not all cases the contents of the XP (or 2000) CD cannot recognize the USB optical drive model .
You CAN install Windows from scratch
- if you can set your bios Setup Boot Order or similar settings to boot from a USB connected drive, by using a USB flash drive that has been prepared to be made bootable and by following a procedure on another computer, then booting your computer with the flash drive.
Search for: install XP from a flash drive
or similar on the web for instructions.
- if you CAN'T set your bios Setup Boot Order or similar settings to boot from a USB connected drive, or in any case, you can follow a procedure to prepare your hard drive on another computer so that you can then run Setup on your netbook from your hard drive.
How to install XP when you can't load files from the XP CD on the computer, and when you cannot set your bios Setup to boot from a USB drive...
See response 5, 6, and 7: