Install Windows no CD or floppy drive

By swker98 ยท 11 replies
Apr 10, 2009
  1. Hi, i recently acquired a dell latitude (older p3 860mhz) and it has no cd, floppy drive so i cant install windows a traditional way. My question is how can i install windows using my ide to usb cable?

    What i did was partition the drive, put the contents of my windows xp disk on one partition and the other partition i hope to some how get it to boot into dos or a command prompt in order to activate the xp partition and begin installation.
    Also i saw many ways of doing this but it requires me to actually connect the drive to my computers ide channel and not through usb.

    Any suggestions are appreciated this is driving me crazy lol
    Thanks in advance
  2. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,332   +101

    Not too much you'll be able to do if your BIOS won't support the ability to boot from USB, which, given the age, it probably doesn't.

    Almost every computer has an optical drive, borrow one from another system and replace it after the installation of Windows - or spend the $20 for a new one.
  3. swker98

    swker98 TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 1,077

    thanks, i dont think this computer even supports a cd drive as far as hardware wise, its a dell latitude

    basically i just need to be able to boot into a command prompt or dos and tell it to launch the windows install file anyone know how i could get it to boot to dos

    anyone else have any ideas
  4. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    Well, I will try a few guesses. I think there was an external CD drive for those models, which have a special connector block on the side of the laptop, like a one inch wide but very narrow connector. Obviously you dont have that drive. You might be able to find out the exact model of this device from the Dell site, and with a lot of luck, source one on ebay etc.

    Since you can use a USB drive to do things like partitioning, and appear to have copied XP install to a second partition, I suggest the following. Create a tiny third partition like 20Mb, format it FAT, and install DOS there. Again sourcing DOS would be no problem for me, but might be a headache for you....however, if you can do that, then the partition manager can be used to set that new Dos partition to be the active one, so you have the ability to boot into Dos. Then you can run XP install from the copy.

    Two problems. Those early Dells did not as a rule have more than 256Mb of Ram. This will just about run XP but it will struggle. Win2K would be better. 2nd problem is you may have created your copy partition formatted with NTFS. Dos will not see that. If necessary, reformat and re-copy using FAT16.
  5. swker98

    swker98 TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 1,077

    thanks for your help
    the only problem im having is not being able to install dos through windows, any ideas on how i can do that through usb?
  6. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    So far you have not told me what, if any, operating system is running on the laptop already. If it is XP then you can run a Dos-like system by choosing it from the special start-up menu available from the F8 key at boot-time
  7. swker98

    swker98 TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 1,077

    no os is on the hard drive, what im trying to do is load dos through the usb so i can tell it to start the windows xp install

    I have partitioned the laptops hard drive and have the contents of the xp cd on one partition and another blank where i hope to load dos so i can start the xp install
  8. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,332   +101

  9. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    Matthew, the poster has no OS, no floppy, no CD. That is a bit of a puzzle !

    swker98 you better explain how you got the partitions installed and how you copied the XP install disc to one. Clearly, you can somehow execute why can't you execute install.exe on the install disc copy?

    Explore the idea of installing Dos by removing your laptop HDD and connecting it to a 'proper' pc via a laptop drive adapter for IDE - they cost peanuts and give you full access on the donor PC. There is no point in actually installing XP while on the other PC although you could; probably you know that.....
  10. swker98

    swker98 TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 1,077

    i had my xp disc files on partition one and a blank partition 2 where i wanted to install xp to, i tried to install dos from windows xp through my ide to usb but couldn't.

    I bought a 2.5 to 3.5" adapter should be here by thurs. and im gona put the drive in an old comp and try it that way any ideas on how i can do it with that
    i know i cant install it on the "host" pc because its probably gona bsod or never work right so i need to execute the install on the laptop
    i found some tutorials online that needed a 2.5 to 3.5 converter. i could prob. give them a shot and see how if it works
  11. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    If you have access to a Dos install, you can certainly install that on drive whilst in the donor PC without it affecting anything on the donor PC, but on installing back in the portable, it will boot into it fine.
  12. swker98

    swker98 TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 1,077

    alright i found a great turorial on how to do this but you need a ide 2.5 to 3.5 adapter that i got for $5 at newegg, it did what i was trying to do for hours in minutes. one note: i dont know if it was just my setup but i couldn't transfer the smartdrv.exe it would tell me that it had too many parimiters so my transfer speeds are going to be hellishly slow

    thanks for all your help
Topic Status:
Not open for further replies.

Similar Topics

Add your comment to this article

You need to be a member to leave a comment. Join thousands of tech enthusiasts and participate.
TechSpot Account You may also...