Creating a Windows Installation CD from your Recovery Disk

Making a CD for Windows 9x and ME
Making a CD for Windows XP, 2000, and NT
Smart Tip for installing Windows with NTFS
A little updated info


Making a CD for Windows 9x and ME

We have utility, Easy Recovery that will create a Windows CD for you, and create recovery files, so you will not need to format to reinstall Windows.

I have been asked many times "I have Windows 9x (or ME), how can I install Windows without having to lose all my files. I only have a Recovery Disk". Well it is really very simple, so long as you have a CD burner; or at least a second hard drive.

The first thing you can do is make a Startup diskette, or you can make a bootable CD image.

If you have a Recovery CD from your computer manufacturer, the Recovery CD will install the Windows installation files (the Windows Cabinet file) to a folder, normally to C:\Windows\Options\Cabs or to C:\Windows\Options\Install. Open the Windows Explorer and look for them. Make sure you have the file Precopy1.cab. Then, check that you have a cab file with a number (?????2.cab) all the way up to the last number. Each version of Windows is different. Windows 95 and 98 have a file named Precopy2.cab while Millennium has a file named Base2.cab. Windows 98 has Base4.cab while Windows 95 has Win_04.cab and Millennium has a file named Net4.cab. So you need to look for the sequence of numbers, not the name. In all versions, all the Win cabs use an underscore before the number. A list of needed files are listed below.

Windows 95 normally goes up to cab file number 22 but your computer manufacturer may have added files, so you could have files up to 29 or even higher. Windows 98 has files up to 69. Here again, it could be higher. Millennium has files up to 22, again, there could be more. Each manufacturer has a different number of cabinet files. Once you have checked that these files exist, check that a setup.exe exists. Also,check for the file xmsmmgr.exe. If both of these files exist, then you probably have all the needed files to install Windows. If not, you may have deleted one or two, or even had a FAT error and the files disappeared on their own. In which case, you may need to reinstall Windows just to get these files.

Let's check it. Double click on setup and let Windows start to check your system and run Scandisk. Once Windows offers you a Cancel option, Cancel. If you got this far you probably have all the needed files. Create a folder named Win9x. Copy all the files from Windows\Options\Cabs to the Win9x folder on your CD burner (with a CD in it). If you do not have a CD burner and cannot get someone to burn the CD for you, copy the files to a different hard drive. This way, if you ever have to format a drive you can install Windows from the unformatted drive.

Lastly, but most importantly, you need a Startup disk. If you already have one from the manufacturer, make your own anyway. Open the Control Panel and select Add/Remove Programs, click on the tab, Startup Disk. Windows 98 and ME will create a Startup Disk that will load your CD-ROM. Windows 95 will not create a startup disk that loads your CD, but the manufacturers disk will, so you can use theirs. You will need to exit the Windows install and switch CDs to your CD at this point.

If you are copying the files to your hard drive remember where you placed them. Example: D:\Win9x. At the A: prompt or C: prompt, type "D:" (without the quotes) then press enter. Now type "cd win9x" (without the quotes). Press enter. Now type "Setup" (without the quotes) and press enter. The same will hold true for a CD installation. You just have to watch the screen for what drive your CD-ROM was loaded to. Normally, if your CD-ROM is D: it will be loaded to E:. The Startup disk will normally creates a RAM drive before loading the CD-ROM.

Needed files (Example List)
The list was taken from my CDs, so you may have different names such as Driver10.cab instead of Net10.cab. You may even have more files than this. Most important item to check is that your setup.exe file is a Microsoft file, if not your computer manufacture may have put a Fdisk command in the setup file. This will Fdisk the hard drive immediately.

Windows 98 files

BASE4.CAB
BASE5.CAB
BASE6.CAB
CATALOG3.CAB
CHL99.CAB
DELTEMP.COM
DOSSETUP.BIN
DRIVER11.CAB
DRIVER12.CAB
DRIVER13.CAB
DRIVER14.CAB
DRIVER15.CAB
DRIVER16.CAB
DRIVER17.CAB
DRIVER18.CAB
DRIVER19.CAB
DRIVER20.CAB
DRIVER21.CAB
EXTRACT.EXE
MINI.CAB
MSNET32.DLL Optional
NET10.CAB
NET7.CAB
NET8.CAB
NET9.CAB
PRECOPY1.CAB
PRECOPY2.CAB
RICHED20.DLL Optional
RICHED32.DLL Optional
SAVE32.COM
SCANDISK.EXE
SCANDISK.PIF Optional
SCANPROG.EXE
SCANREG.EXE
SETUP.EXE
SETUP.TXT Optional
SETUP0.WAV Optional
SETUP1.WAV Optional
SETUP2.WAV Optional
SMARTDRV.EXE
SUBACK.BIN
SUCATREG.EXE (For SE)
SUHELPER.BIN
USP10.DLL Optional
VDHCP.386 Optional
W98SETUP.BIN
WB16OFF.EXE
WIN98_22.CAB
WIN98_23.CAB
WIN98_24.CAB
WIN98_25.CAB
WIN98_26.CAB
WIN98_27.CAB
WIN98_28.CAB

Windows 98 Continued

WIN98_29.CAB
WIN98_30.CAB
WIN98_31.CAB
WIN98_32.CAB
WIN98_33.CAB
WIN98_34.CAB
WIN98_35.CAB
WIN98_36.CAB
WIN98_37.CAB
WIN98_38.CAB
WIN98_39.CAB
WIN98_40.CAB
WIN98_41.CAB
WIN98_42.CAB
WIN98_43.CAB
WIN98_44.CAB
WIN98_45.CAB
WIN98_46.CAB
WIN98_47.CAB
WIN98_48.CAB
WIN98_49.CAB
WIN98_50.CAB
WIN98_51.CAB
WIN98_52.CAB
WIN98_53.CAB
WIN98_54.CAB
WIN98_55.CAB
WIN98_56.CAB
WIN98_57.CAB
WIN98_58.CAB
WIN98_59.CAB
WIN98_60.CAB
WIN98_61.CAB
WIN98_62.CAB
WIN98_63.CAB
WIN98_64.CAB
WIN98_65.CAB
WIN98_66.CAB
WIN98_67.CAB
WIN98_68.CAB
WIN98_69.CAB
XMSMMGR.EXE

Windows ME files

BASE2.CAB
CATALOG.CAB
DELTEMP.COM
DOSSETUP.BIN
DRIVER5.CAB
DRIVER6.CAB
DRIVER7.CAB
EXTRACT.EXE
FORMAT.COM
MINI.CAB
MSBATCH.INF Optional
MSLOGO.TTF Optional
NET3.CAB
NET4.CAB
OEMSETUP.BIN Optional
OEMSETUP.EXE Optional
PRECOPY1.CAB
ROBOCOPY.EXE
SAVE32.COM
SCANDISK.EXE
SCANDISK.PIF
SCANPROG.EXE
SCANREG.EXE
SETUP.EXE
SETUP.TXT Optional
SETUP0.WAV
SMARTDRV.EXE
SUBACK.BIN
SUBACK16.BIN
SUHELPER.BIN
W9XSETUP.BIN
WB16OFF.EXE
WIN_10.CAB
WIN_11.CAB
WIN_12.CAB
WIN_13.CAB
WIN_14.CAB
WIN_15.CAB
WIN_16.CAB
WIN_17.CAB
WIN_18.CAB
WIN_19.CAB
WIN_20.CAB
WIN_21.CAB
WIN_22.CAB
WIN_8.CAB
WIN_9.CAB
WIN_OL.CAB
WIN1024.BIN
WIN640.BIN
WIN800.BIN
WINME.BAT Optional
WINME.WMV
XMSMMGR.EXE

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Making a CD for Windows XP, 2000, 2003, and NT

I have been asked many times "I have Windows XP, how can I install Windows without having to lose all my files. I only have a Recovery Disk". Well it is really very simple, so long as you have a CD burner; or at least a second hard drive.

The first thing you can do is make a Startup diskette if you are using FAT32, or you can make a bootable CD image. If you are using NTFS read the section bootable CD image.

If you have a Recovery CD from your computer manufacturer, the Recovery CD will install the Windows installation files to a folder, normally to C:\I386 or C:\Winnt\I386 or C:\Windows\I386 . Open the Windows Explorer and look for them. Make sure you have the file Winnt.exe, Winnt32.exe and EULA.txt. Each version of Windows has a different number of files and almost all the files will be compressed so they will have an underscore at the end of the file extension like "Shell32.dl_"

You can do a search for the folder I386. You will need to copy the entire folder to your CD burner. Do not change the  name of the folder and do not make it a sub folder as in E:\Windows\I386 , it must be E:\I386. This folder will contain about 1000 or more files, in some cases nearly 1500 files.

Be sure to review the section A little updated info before making the CD.

Now comes the tough part, getting the Windows CD Key. The NT platform does not store the CD Key in the Registry in plain text as on the Windows 9x platform. It stores only the Product ID, which is different each time you reinstall windows. So you will need to check your computer case for it. My laptop has a Windows CD Key pasted to the bottom of it. Your Recovery CD may have it on its label, or your paper work has it written somewhere. If you cannot find the key you can modify the file I386\Setupp.ini or you can download our free CD Key Reader software to read the installed key that was used to install Windows on your computer.

Windows XP: The CD Key Reader software will tell you the CD that Windows was last installed with. If your computer is from Dell or other manufacturer and you have not reinstalled Windows yourself, then this Key may not work. This manufactures are installing Windows to all the machines from a common Image. Using the same CD Key. They then give you the CD Key on the box that matches the PID file in the I386 folder. This is different then the common image they used.

For Windows 9x click here .

To modify the Setupp.ini file, open it in notepad. It will look like this:
[Pid]
ExtraData=6376796F71737A76767385CA66F124
Pid=51873OEM

Change the OEM to 270  on the Pid Value so it looks like this:
[Pid]
ExtraData=6376796F71737A76767385CA66F124
Pid=51873270

This should work on most CDs. This will allow you to install Windows 2000 without a serial number, this will NOT work on evaluation versions of Windows, or Windows 2003. It will work on only the earlier versions of XP.

For those who do not know how to start the installation of Windows for NT, XP, 2000, and 2003 there are two files available in the I386 folder. The file Winnt.exe will start the installation from a DOS prompt, and Winnt32.exe will start it within Windows. If you have a problem with Winnt32.exe when in Windows you can use the Winnt.exe instead, however it is much slower.

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A Smart Tip for installing Windows with NTFS

Windows NT, 2000, 2003, and XP with the NTFS (New Technology File System) cannot be installed using the Recover Console, so creating a third drive is a smart idea. The following only pertains to those people who wish to use NTFS. The following will eliminate the need for formatting and losing all your files the next time you install Windows.

Without a FAT or FAT32 drive the DOS Setup program will not be able to copy files to the hard drive, even if you install from the CD-ROM. Windows NT, 2000, and XP need a FAT or FAT32 to copy files to. It cannot see the NTFS partition yet. This is not the case if you install Windows from inside of Windows NT, 2000, 2003, or XP; or you use the Windows CD to boot.

Lets say you currently have only the C drive and a CD-ROM, you will need to Fdisk and format the C drive into at least two drives, a C and a D. Make a D drive that is NTFS and a C drive in FAT32 that is large enough to hold your I386 folder times 2.5 times the size of the I386 folder. You will need the C drive large enough for the I386 folder and the copying of files for the Windows installation. Just copy the entire I386 folder to the C drive , do not make it a sub folder. You now can make your D drive NTFS for added security. If you only have a Recovery CD, you can create either a CD with the I386 folder on it or move the I386 to a partition that is FAT to FAT32 while you are setting up you new partitions. If you are coping the I386 folder that was installed to your hard drive by a recovery CD then read the section How to make a Windows CD.

Now you need only to change the settings in the Registry so Windows can find them when it needs them if you already had Windows installed to a different drive other than the C drive. You will need to go to the Registry Key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\ Software\ Microsoft\ Windows\ CurrentVersion\ Setup and change the location for "SourcePath" to the new Drive letter (E:) Also change the setting at "Installation Sources". You should also change the setting "SourcePath" at the Key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\ Software\ Microsoft\ Windows NT\ CurrentVersion

Now when you need to reinstall Windows  you can use a Windows 9x or ME startup disk to get to the command prompt. If you use a 9x or ME disk you will go to the C drive at the Command prompt. Windows 9x  can only see FAT or FAT32, DOS cannot see any NTFS drives. You can go to the C:\I386 folder and type "Winnt" without the quotes. This will start the installation, and all files will be copied to the C drive. When you reboot to finish the installation, setup will then ask you where to install Windows to.

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A little updated info

If you have proprietary hardware or if you are not sure if you do, you should copy all your drivers to the CD as well. Most of the manufacturers use some proprietary hardware to cut costs in manufacturing. When Windows installs the hardware many times it sees that it needs a standard Windows driver like Serial.vxd. But the manufacturer's hardware may need a different driver. So they either rewrite the standard Serial.vxd or replace it with their own version of the driver once Windows installs it.

To determine which ones they are use the Device Manager. Right Click the My Computer Icon on your desktop, select Properties, click the Device Manager tab, now click on the plus sign, next to the CDROM icon . The first one should be CD-ROM. Click on the CD-ROM device(s). Now select the properties button and then the Drivers Tab. Now select Driver File Details. If the button is grayed out then there are no required drivers that you will need to copy. If not copy all the files in the window that appears after you click on the Driver File Details button. Many of these files may not be needed. But better safe than sorry.

Now all you need is the Windows CD Key, this is easy. Download our free CD Key Reader or go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\ SOFTWARE\ Microsoft\ Windows\ CurrentVersion, and copy the information at the "ProductKey" value, on Windows 95 it will be "ProductID". NT XP 2000 and 2003 will need the CD Key Reader . If you need to install without the CD key click here .

Are you missing a cabinet file? Click Here

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Bootable CD Image

You will need a piece of software, like Nero to copy the image to the CD.

If you have Windows 9x / ME or are using FAT32 on your XP 2000, 2003 machine you can have the software copy the image from a Startup diskette, or from another CD that you might have that is bootable to a DOS prompt.

If you are using NTFS as most people are who have 2000, 2003 or XP, then you will need borrow a Windows CD from a friend. Or you can download a copy of the Windows NT platform bootable image from here

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