Windows XP Repair Install – How extreme can you go
The object of this report is not to provide information on how to perform a “Repair Install”, but to see how well it works even under extreme conditions.
Bill W., a friend of mine recently gave me a used PC which for me would make a perfect test PC for trying out various test scenarios. The PC arrived with a lot of dust and no hard disk drive. Since I had a spare hard drive and a can of compressed air I was good to go.
At this point I decided to see if the test PC would boot Windows XP Pro with SP2, using that spare hard drive I mentioned. The spare drive had been removed from a Dell 4100 PC when I upgraded the 4100 to a larger drive. The Dell had virtually nothing in common with the Test PC as far as the hardware. The Dell uses an Intel motherboard and a Intel P3 933Mhz cpu, the Test PC has an ASUS P4PE motherboard, Intel P4 3.06 GHz HT cpu and a more recent Intel chipset. Both had PATA/IDE drive support and the Test PC included SATA drive support. Built into the Test Pc’s motherboard were chips which provided Audio, Network interface, USB 2.0, Firewire and a Raid controller. Also included was an Nvidia TI 4200 video card. The Dell uses a Creative SB Live ValueAudio card, SMC 10Mb Network card, NVIDIA GeForce2 GTS Video card, two USB 1.1 ports, LITE-ON DVDRW LDW-851S, LITE-ON LTR-52246S CDRW drives and an Intel 82801BA Ultra ATA Controller.
1) With the drive installed in the Test PC the first thing I tried was to see if the PC could boot to Windows without performing the Repair Install. It did not, just a black screen.
2) The Windows XP CD used for the Repair Install was a Slipstreamed version Windows XP SP2 using the original XP gold CD and SP2 download file. I used AutoStreamer to create the slipstreamed CD it's easy to use and for the most part self explanatory. Keep in mind that the service pack version of the XP CD must match the version of the Windows you are trying to repair.
3) I already had an Image backup of the C: partition created before I removed the drive from the Dell PC, so both warnings mentioned in this article in effect were satisfied. I also had no plans to Activate Windows (the retail product key was already in use on the Dell PC) and since I have plans to use my other (currently unused) retail copy of XP Pro on the test PC when I do a “Clean Install” it made no sense to activate Windows for this one or two day test.
How well did the ‘Repair Install’ work:
So the next step was to perform the ‘Repair Install’. I used the instructions provided by Michael Stevens titled: “How to Perform a Windows XP Repair Install”, the link to this article is provided below so you can see the steps that I followed: http://www.michaelstevenstech.com/XPrepairinstall.htm
Step 4 of Michael’s article is where (after booting from the CD) Windows Setup will search the hard drive for any existing Windows installations. It found one, I selected it and pressed R to start the repair process. Setup then began the process of copying a large number of files to the hard drive.
The Computer rebooted and all the user accounts were displayed on the Welcome screen.
I logged into my account, all the desktop icons were there and Start/All Programs listed the applications I had installed. A Windows popup appeared proclaiming that I had three days to activate Windows. MS Office, Norton System Works and Norton AV also required activation. As mentioned earlier I choose not to activate Windows at this time.
Other applications worked just fine.
Installing the device drivers:
I then entered Device Manager and as expected a number of devices had the familiar yellow question mark next to them. Since I had previously downloaded and burned the drivers available for the ASUS P4PE motherboard from their web site to a CD, I though I was in good shape to start installing the necessary drivers.
Unfortunately both the CD-RW and DVD drives where not listed in Windows Explorer and Device Manager displayed an error code 31. The first thing I tried was to shut down the PC, disconnect both the CD and DVD drives, reboot the computer and then verify that no CD or DVD device was listed in Device Manager. Then I shut down the PC again, connected both the CD and DVD drives and rebooted, no luck as Device Manager still showed an error code 31 for both drives. The fix that worked for this problem is covered in Microsoft’s Knowledge Base in an article named: You can no longer access the CD drive or the DVD drive, or you receive an error message after you remove a CD recording program or a DVD recording program in Windows XP: "error code 31"
I used method #2 in this article, which is to use the registry editor (regedit) to delete the Upper and Lower filter registry entries. I then rebooted the computer and problem solved, both the CD and DVD drives were visible in Windows Explorer and Device Manager showed no problems. Now it was time to install the device drivers.
Video Card: The NIVIA TI 4100 video card appeared to be working fine with the existing drivers that were already installed, so no change was necessary.
Sound Card: Since this motherboard had a built in sound chip a driver (SoundMAX) was needed, so I installed the driver and utilities I had downloaded from the ASUS web site. Drivers installed without problems.
USB 2.0: Device Manager showed no problems.
FireWire (IEEE1394 interface): No drivers were available on the ASUS web site or from any other web site. Near as I can figure XP includes built in drivers but they did not work, so I plan to enter the BIOS setup and disable FireWire as I had no plans to use it anyway. For more info see: Using IEEE 1394 (FireWire) Devices with Windows XP
Network drivers: (Broadcom 4401 chip): Device Manager showed the usual yellow question mark and an error code #, installing the drivers did not help. Search the web and found revised versions of the drivers but they did not help either. As a last resort I tried a “Clean Install” of Windows XP SP2 and then tried once more to install the drivers, they still failed! I tried one more time using the drivers from ASUS and still no luck, it was by accident that after this last try I rebooted the PC and discovered that Device Manager now showed the IEEE 1394 FireWire device functioning properly. Since I had noticed during the last try on installing the Network driver that some of the files had the number 1394 as part of the filename I decided to try one more time installing the drivers. This time they installed and Network device was recognized. I would suspect that had I rebooted after failing for the first time when doing the Repair Install, the next time I tried installing the Network drivers I would have had success, as it appears that the Broadcom 4401 network chip on the motherboard requires that the FireWire drivers are installed and working before attempting to install the network drivers.
In short I had to install the Broadcom drivers twice, once to get the 1394 FireWire working, reboot and then install the same drivers a second time in order to get the 4401 network chip to function.
At least in my case the Repair Install worked even under what I would call extreme conditions such as moving a hard drive preloaded with Windows XP (SP2) from one PC to another PC that for all practical purposes had totally different hardware.