Can I make turn a USB Pocket drive into a boot disk and use it to install Windows XP?

by on March 1, 2009

Q: I want to dump Vista off of my HP Slimline s3400f and install XP Pro instead. The 3400 has an internal poket drive. My laptop (HP 6820 with XP) has a 2.5″ internal drive. I need to access DOS on the 3400 for the Boot Disk to operate. Can I purchase an external Pocket drive with USB connect and create the boot disk, and then use that boot disk to format and install XP on the 3400?

8 Responses to “Can I make turn a USB Pocket drive into a boot disk and use it to install Windows XP?”

    What you are suggesting is definitely possible, but it is difficult, risky, time-consuming, and not approved by Microsoft.

    Unless modifications have been made, your computer includes a built-in CD/DVD drive. All you need do to install Windows XP while erasing Windows Vista is to put a Windows XP installation disc into your computer’s CD/DVD drive.

    PS: Remember to backup your important files to an external device before installing Windows XP

    Does this help?


    That would have been an easy fix if it were possible, so easy I wouldn’t have asked it here. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. The computer that has Vista refuses to let the XP software load and overwrite Vista, saying that the OS currently loaded is a newer version than the one I am trying to introduce. I know that I must use a boot disk and force the computer to dump Vista and load XP from outside of the current OS. Since; as the purpose of the boot disk, it provides the drivers from DOS to activate the CD/DVD Drive in order to manually override the hijacking that Vista has built in to it.
    And frankly; I don’t care what Microsoft wants or approves. They should be ashamed of themselves in ever introducing Vista, which is about the crappiest OS they have put out since Windows ME. If I have to; I will even use an alternate program such as DBAN or others to totally force erase the hard drive so that the computer will have no choice but to accept XP. My dilemma really is that one of my computers has a 3.5″ floppy drive, the laptop has a 2″ floppy drive, and this other HP has this USB Pocket drive. I want to create a boot disk on an external pocket drive from the computer that already has XP loaded, and then insert this boot disk into the computer infested with Vista and rid myself of this languishing problem altogether. I won’t ever buy another computer with Vista loaded on it ever again. (And yes, my files are already backed up) Thanks.


    Hi Snowman50,

    Thank you for your passionate reply. What I still don’t understand is why you need to involve these other computers of yours. With a little planning and preparation, your HP Slimline can prepare its own downgrade.

    There is an excellent article at,2817,2287685,00.asp which provides solutions to your problem (although I disagree with the author on how to backup important files).

    Although the aforementioned article discusses Microsoft’s supported boot disk option, you may want to visit for alternatives.

    I’ve been using to “write zeros” or “wipe” to a computer’s hard drive. I’ll definitely try DBAN; it seems like it might be superior to the program that I’ve been using.

    In any event, you can definitely downgrade from Windows Vista to Windows XP if you wipe your computer’s hard drive first and the use a full Windows XP installation disc. HOWEVER, an upgrade version of the Windows XP installation disc requires proof of a previous version of Windows. With a wiped hard drive, the only acceptable proof of which I am aware is a full installation disc from a previous version of Windows (Windows 2000 and below). System recovery discs will NOT be recognized by the upgrade program.

    Lastly, some computer companies are allowing customers to request Windows XP downgrades which have been specifically designed for their systems. It might be worth your time to contact HP for more info on this.

    PS: You may have noticed while reading other posts of mine here at Ask A Geek that I have no love for Microsoft. I frequently suggest alternatives, such as Mac OS X and Ubuntu Linux. Windows Vista as it was originally released was beta software at best. Windows XP is certainly more user-friendly than Windows Vista will ever be. Nevertheless, a service pack and dozens of other updates have transformed Windows Vista into a “good enough” operating system which even manages to be better than Windows XP at many tasks.

    Has this been more helpful?


    Thanks for your timely reply, Robert. And yes, your information is somewhat more helpfull as we come closer to understanding the issues at hand. I guess what is frustrating to me the most is that all 3 of my computers have 3 different types of floppy (archaic word, I’ll admit) drives, and this being the case, no one disk can work for the others. I cannot use the Slimline to make a boot disk, seeing it has Vista on it. I have to use the other computer that has XP.
    Now, I must tell you that I am computer saavy and find very few times I have to go out and buy hardware to correct something unless it’s defective, and I rarely need to refomat and install an OS unless there is a need from corruption or instability. But I am determined to rid this Slimline of the pesky Vista and it’s resource hogging and constant bugging the user with blockades and self-doubt windows.
    Plus, I work with a facinating program called “nLite” that allows you to “manipulate” and custom design your own version of XP, You can nLite many different Windows operating systems (2000, XP, and 2003, all of which you can do x86 and x64 versions). You can integrate service packs and updates, remove unwanted components, Create an un-attended set-up(including ISO) integrate drivers to be automatically installed, enable hundreds of tweaks in the tool (from all over the internet), and configure services. “nLite is a tool for permanent Windows components removal and pre-installation Windows setup. After removal there is an option to make bootable image ready for burning on cd or testing in virtual machines. With nLite you will be able to have Windows installation which on install doesn’t include, or even contain on cd, unwanted components.” Since we all recognize that XP is a very stable OS that we are familiar with, I have worked on my own copy and tweaked it to my satisfaction to the point that I want it installed on all 3 computers. Note: I am not implying or condoning distribution of that CD; merely for my own personal use. nLite does have a program for Vista called vLite, but I will not be looking into that one. You can read more about this at:
    Hope this explains further why I have been asking these questions. Thanks for your help.



    I’m more confused than ever about why you need a boot disk and/or USB flash drive, why your older computers need to be involved in this, etc!

    Why not simply wipe the hard drive in your Slimline, install Windows XP onto your Slimline using a Windows XP installation disc (full retail version, upgrade retail version if you have older full installation disc for proof, or customized downgrade version provided by HP), then create your nLite CD with the ISO program of your choice, wipe your Slimline’s hard drive, and then use the nLite CD to install a customized version of Windows XP onto the Slimline? No USB flash drive or boot disc required…

    Although legally it might not be possible, can’t you technologically speaking use nLite and the Windows XP that’s on your HP 6820 to create a customized Windows XP installation CD? Again, no USB flash drive or boot disc required…

    PS: The developer of nLite is making a similar program for creating customized Windows Vista installation discs at the website.


    Thanks for your reply, once again…”Although legally it might not be possible, can’t you technologically speaking use nLite and the Windows XP that’s on your HP 6820 to create a customized Windows XP installation CD? Again, no USB flash drive or boot disc required…”
    That’s exactly what I am trying to do. But whenever I instruct the Slimline to boot from CD, it always reverts back to Vista automatically upon startup, stating that it is protecting the OS from being downgraded to an older OS. But; upon reading that link you gave me earlier from PC magazine, I might have some alternatives that I haven’t used yet. I am leaving an entire disk wipe out as a last resort. Affecting the BIOS is really the best approach, but the OS is stubborn and not letting me do this. But, at least now I have some choices. Thanks once again..


    Hi Snowman50… I’m pleased to have provided some useful information. Cheers!


    The first thin I myself would do, is create the restoration disks.

    The second thing I would do, use the restoration disks to boot the computer, and delete the primary (and if you want to, the restore partition). At this point, I would be able to install anything because it will not be able to detect the the Vista install any more.

    BE CAREFUL! Deleting the partitions is the point of no return, if you have any doubts…resolve them first.

    Once the partition(s) are deleted, you can pop in your XP CD, and will have no problem.