Creating A Windows Startup Disk

There are times when you can't boot your system from the hard drive, thanks to either a system problem, a lost password, or the simple fact that the OS hasn't been installed. Windows XP offers a number of options for booting from floppy disks, but you must prepare them before they're needed.

If something goes wrong with the boot drive, you may be able to recover the system using a bootable disk. Don't just format a disk with the box 'Create An MS-DOS Startup Disk' checked, you want to boot windows, not MS-DOS. Start by formatting the disk without checking that box. Now copy these three files onto the disk: 'Boot.ini', '', and 'Ntldr' (all these file are located in the 'C:\' directory). If any of these files ever get deleted or corrupted, you can use this floppy disk to boot up your computer.

If you ever forget your password, a password reset floppy can save the day. The password reset disk lets you reset your password without revealing what the previous password was. The precise technique for creating and using a password reset disk varies by account type and log-on type. Use the Help and Support in Windows XP to search for Password Reset Disk for details specific to your situation.

A Computer with no operating system installed will usually boot from the Windows XP CD. For that rare system that won't, Microsoft offers downloadable programs to create the necessary set of bootable floppy disks. Go to and search for article number '310994'. Find the download link for your Windows XP version and language. The downloaded program will create six setup disks, which can be used to start your system up and begin installing the OS from a CD.