Restoring a Windows XP computer from the command prompt eliminates the need to boot from a CD or floppy disk. To use the command prompt for the restoration, you must access it in Safe Mode during startup and then run the setup program on your original Windows XP CD. After the factory restore is complete, your computer is wiped clean of old files and you're left with a fresh installation of Windows XP.
Step 1Restart your computer and begin tapping the "F8" key as the computer begins to boot. You should see the "Windows Advanced Options Menu" screen. If Windows starts instead, reboot and try again. If you fail after several attempts, shut off power to your computer while in Windows and then when you restart Windows it may automatically go to the Advanced Options screen.
Step 2Use your cursor keys to highlight "Safe Mode With Command Prompt" and then press "Enter." Windows opens the command line interface.
Step 3Insert your Windows XP installation CD into your computer and then change to the CD drive by typing "d:" (without quotes here and throughout) and pressing "Enter." Replace "d:" with the actual drive letter used by your CD drive if it's different.
Step 4Type "cd i386" and press "Enter" to change to the CD folder containing the installation files.
Step 5Type "winnt" and then press "Enter" to launch the setup program.
Step 6Type "d:\i3896" and press "Enter" when Windows asks the location of the installation files. Replace "d:" with your CD's drive letter if it's different. Windows copies the installation files from the CD to your hard drive, a process which could take an hour or longer depending on the speed of your hardware.
Step 7Press "Enter" to restart your computer once the file transfer is complete.
Step 8Press "Enter" again once the setup program resumes and asks if you want to install Windows XP.
Step 9Press "F8" to accept the license agreement.
Step 10Press "Enter" to select the main hard drive partition for the Windows XP installation.
Step 11Select "NTFS" as the file system, unless you have a specific reason for wanting to use the older "FAT32" file system.
Step 12Press the "F" key to format drive. Windows erases all the data from the drive and begins installing XP. At one point, the computer restarts by itself.
Step 13Follow any additional setup prompts, providing information such as your region, language and networks settings. Click "Finish" at the end of the setup. Windows restarts and brings up the activation screen.
Step 14Enter your 25-character product key and then click "Next."
Step 15Enter a username and then click "Next" to begin using Windows XP.
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- Many brand-name PCs come with a recovery partition on the hard drive that allows you to restore your computer to its original factory settings, including Windows XP along with any third-party software that came with the computer. To use the recovery partition, reboot the computer and then look for a prompt that tells you to press a certain key to access the recovery console. Press the key and follow the prompts.
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