How-to Install Windows XP to SATA Hard Drive

The following explanation assumes you already know how to install XP on an IDE/PATA hard drive. XP doesn’t natively support SATA so to get to install, you will have to use one of the 3 methods listed below.


Step 1. download a copy of the SATA/RAID driver for your motherboard. If you have a fairly new board, you probably already have the driver on the drivers disk that came with the board. If not, go the the motherboard manufacturer’s website & download it.

Step 2. enter the BIOS & check the boot order. Make sure the CD/DVD drive is listed before the HDD. If it’s not, change the order & save.


METHOD 1 – system with floppy drive

Step 1. copy the SATA/RAID driver to a floppy disk

Step 2. boot the computer with the XP disk in the drive & watch for the prompt – “Press any key to boot from CD….”

Step 3. as XP Setup is loading, watch for the prompt at the bottom of the screen – Press F6 if you need to install a third party SCSI or RAID driver….”

Step 4. after pressing F6, insert the floppy disk & follow the instructions

METHOD 2 – IDE compatibility mode

Step 1. boot the system & immediately enter the BIOS. Change the SATA setting to “IDE compatibility” & save

Step 2. boot the computer with the XP disk in the drive & watch for the prompt – “Press any key to boot from CD….”

Step 3. perform the XP installation as you would with an IDE/PATA hard drive

Step 4. after the XP installation is completed, install the SATA/RAID driver

Step 5. reboot, enter the BIOS, change the SATA setting back to SATA mode & save

METHOD 3 – slipstream SATA/RAID driver into XP disk

Use this method if you have no floppy drive & your BIOS doesn’t support running SATA in IDE compatibility mode. Basically what you’ll be doing is creating a new Windows XP Installation CD containing the SATA driver. Here’s what you’ll need:

– a working XP SP2 (or better) system with CD/DVD burner
– .NET Framework 2.0 SP1 installed (see note 1)
– burning program such as ImgBurn (see note 2)
– SATA/RAID driver
– nLite (see link below)
– approx 1GB available free space on hard drive
– blank CD-R disk

The nLite program will download all the files from your XP CD, add the SATA drivers, then create an .ISO file which can be burned to a CD & used for the XP installation. You can also use nLite to add other drivers or Service Packs to the CD, so if you have an older XP disk with SP1 or SP2, you can add SP3 to the new CD as well.

You can download nLite here:

The nLite Guide can be found here:

Note: .NET Framework 2.0 SP1 can be downloaded using Windows Update or from one of the following links:

Note: ImgBurn can be downloaded using one one of the following links: