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An Illustrated Step
By Step Instruction for
Doing a Clean XP Install

Windows XP logo

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It is probably easier to do an installation if you print out these directions before starting or do an installation next to a computer with the instructions displayed.

  1. If you can do this separately from turning on your computer, turn on your monitor (if you don't do this first it might not warm up fast enough for you to see the next message).

  2. Start your computer and look for a little message that says "Press [keyboard key - usually F2, F8 or the Delete Key] to Enter Setup".  This message may only appear for a second.

  3. Quickly press this key.  If you aren't able to move fast enough (most computers are set up this way) wait until Windows completely loads then press Ctl-Alt-Delete to restart Windows.  This time as soon as the screen goes black for the start of the restart press and hold down the key on your keyboard that you saw in Step. 2.  You should now see something like the screen below and are now in the BIOS.  We want to change the settings of the computer so that it boots from the CD rather than from the floppy and hard drive first.

    CMOS screenshot

  4. In some Bios you'll want to select "Advanced Setup" by moving the down arrow on your keyboard and then hitting the Enter key when you arrive on the Entry.  You should see something like below:

    Another BIOS screenshot

    In other BIOSes all you have is to hit the right arrow on your keyboard until the screen lands on "Boot" as below:

    Yet even another BIOS screenshots

    Try to follow the directions on the screen until the "CDROM" or "ATAPI CD ROM" is the 1st Boot Device or appears on top of the order.  This might take some experimentation to figure out, but this is the hardest part of the XP installation and once you get the rest of the installation is pretty easy.  After you set up the CDROM for booting, you want to save your settings and exit the BIOS.  Probably in all BIOS this is done by hitting F10 on your keyboard.  Before you do this, be sure to put your CDROM in the player.

  5. The PC will now Boot from the XP CD.  If it boots into your old version of Windows, be patient and let it load all the way up and then restart your PC again.  If it boots into Windows again, the boot order is not right and you'll have to go back into the BIOS again and try to get the settings right.  Look for message "booting from CD" usually located at the bottom of the screen. If you have a factory splash screen, press ESC to unload it.

  6. Press any Key when you see the prompt to 'Press Any Key".
    Setup will start copying files, if you need to install any third-party or RAID drivers press F6 at this time. the copying of files can take awhile.

  7. Next you will get the option to repair or enter setup, choose to enter setup. Press ENTER. 

    Welcome to Windows XP Setup screenshot

  8. Press F8 if you agree to the license.

    License agreement screenshot

  9. Setup will scan for previous Windows installations.

  10. If you are using the upgrade version of XP on a computer without any version of Windows currently installed, this is where you will replace the XP CD with your qualifying CD, XP setup will scan the qualifying CD and instruct you to replace it with the XP CD to continue XP setup; otherwise, you will not see this screen. Clean install qualifying media can be any of the following Win NT3.51, 4.0, 2000, Win 95, 98, Me.

  11. Choose the location to install.  If the hard drive or partition has a previous installation of XP you want to remove, choose to delete the partition by pressing "D". You will then be prompted to create a new partition in the empty space. This will remove all data from the deleted space.

    Partition setup screenshot

  12. Choose the file system from this screen. If dual booting and you created the small 100 meg partition, make it a fat partition. NTFS is configured at the optimal file size during the initial setup. See this link for more on NTFS.

    File system chice screenshot

    Partition progress screenshot

  13. If you have more that one partition or hard drive on your system, make sure you are formatting the correct partition/drive.

  14. Select F to continue.

  15. Setup will show a progress box and reboot when copying files is complete.

    Your computer will reboot in 15 seconds

  16. When you see the "Press any Key to Reboot" do not Press any Key. If CD boots anyway, remove CD and reboot.

  17. From this point, you will follow the on screen prompts.

    Windows setup progress screenshot

    Installing Windows progrees screenshot II

  18. If you live outside the US, you will probably need to modify the default settings.

  19. Personalize your XP Enter your Name and Organization.

    Personalize your anme and organization screenshot

  20. Enter the CD Key. The Key is located on the back of the CD folder in the Retail versions, and on a holographic label with the OEM versions purchased with a piece of hardware. Write this key down and secure it in a safe place in case the original is misplaced destroyed through natural causes or stupidity. 

    Enter CD license number screenshot

  21. Choose a name for the computer, this should be a unique name for the computer, especially if it is to be connected to a network. In Pro, you are given the option of creating a password or leaving it blank.

    Enter computer anme and network screenshot

  22. Set your Time Zone and Time and Date.

    Change data and time screenshot

  23. Setup will scan for network.

  24. If detected you will have the choice to choose a typical  configuration or custom. Choose typical if you are unsure.

    More network settings screenshot

  25. For home you will choose your workgroup, if a network is already established and you intend to connect to it, use the existing workgroup name, otherwise, I suggest using the default.

    Domain name choice screenshot

  26. For Pro, the same goes for Pro as suggested for Home, but you will have the choice to join a Domain, if you do not have a Domain or do not know leave blank.

  27. Setup will continue and reboot when completed ignore the "Press Any Key".

  28. The loading XP window will now display after reboot.

    Wait while Windows starts

  29. You will see a change display settings, say yes, and accept the setting if you can see the screen after accepting.

    Message about Windows automatically adjusting screen resolution

  30. You will see a welcome screen, press next and unfortunately you have to wait for the dialog to finish.

    Welcom to Windows screenshot

  31. Set up you internet or network connection.

  32. This is the Activate, Register screen. You must activate within 30 days of installing XP, but you do not ever have to register, Registration is completely optional and if you do not register, no personal information will be transmitted during activation. If you register, then activation will transmit that information along with the activation. The first Activation is usually done over the internet if the computer is connected to the internet, otherwise, it can be accomplished by copying the alphanumeric string from the activation screen and make a phone call to the on screen supplied phone number. The activation center will then give you a slightly longer number to input into for activation. I suggest you do not activate immediately in case you need to make hard ware changes, or install to a different system within the thirty days, and you will be reminded on boot up until you do.

    Registering Windows screenshot

  33. Setup users screen. Set at least one user for yourself or the person that will be using the computer.

    Setting up users screenshot

  34. Thank You.

    XP Final Thank You screenshot

  35. Logon to XP and apply Service Pack and Critical updates from Windows Update before installing any software or hardware.  Very important to avoid worms!

  36. Install your anti-virus software.

  37. Install all applications and setup your email.

  38. Restore from Files and Settings transfer after reinstalling all applications.

Comments or questions can be sent

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