Is there a way to reformat a hard drive without cd-rom? Possibly a flash drive?

By RJ831 ยท 18 replies
Oct 19, 2007
  1. Before my hard drive crashed, my cd-roms stopped working for some reason. I went out and bought a new hard drive but my cd-roms still aren't picking up. Is there a way to format my hard drive with a flash drive or external hard drive? I copied everything from my windows xp pro cd and put it on the flash drive. When I boot up, it allows me to boot from the flash drive but when I click on it, nothing happens. Is there a special way to do this? I also have an 250gb external hard drive. thanks in advance guys!!
  2. zipperman

    zipperman TS Rookie Posts: 1,179   +7

    It's easy,put your XP cd in a drive,Boot with F8 and select to boot from
    cd.It will Format and Partition,then install XP.
    I did it that way.Got the details from Microsoft Tech support.
    Why would you think otherwise ? It needs info from the cd that you can't
    copy to a hard drive.
  3. RJ831

    RJ831 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 77

    ^My cd-roms don't work...that's the whole point of my thread. thanks for trying though.
  4. zipperman

    zipperman TS Rookie Posts: 1,179   +7

    A computer without an optical drive is not a good idea.
    You have to have at least 1 working cd-rom drive.
    These devices are very very cheap now.Get a DVD burner,
    it does everything.Read and write.
  5. RJ831

    RJ831 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 77

    I'm sorry, I should have been more specific. I took the cd and dvd roms out and put them on another computer and they work fine. I know for a fact that my pc will locate the cd-roms as soon as I install Windows XP on the hard drive. BUT I can't install Windows XP on the hard drive because it hasn't located my drives yet...SO is there way to format a hard drive using a flash drive or an external hard drive???
  6. zipperman

    zipperman TS Rookie Posts: 1,179   +7

    I doubt it

    Stop playing games with this useless topic.

  7. RJ831

    RJ831 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 77

    I know there's a way. That's fine that you don't know. Does anyone know? :wave:
  8. nickc

    nickc TechSpot Paladin Posts: 923   +11

    it will only work if u are formatting a second hard drive and have an Operating System on the first.
  9. bushwhacker

    bushwhacker TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 783

    Did you tried the Microsoft Windows XP Setup Boot disk ?

    it can be found in

    Use the boot disks ( 6~7 disks) to start the setup and you can format the partition from there.

    EDITED= You can obtains the boot disk from Microsoft.

    This is not mandatory, but a recommendation. Some of people can chose not to use the optical drive and opt for the network sharing. a computer that is in the network drive can be using a cdrom or more.
  10. Sicilian

    Sicilian TS Rookie

  11. Per Hansson

    Per Hansson TS Server Guru Posts: 1,960   +218

    You can also install from a network drive

    However the filesystem needs be be formatted as FAT32 during the installation (you can convert it to NTFS after the installation is complete)

    There are a few different ways to go about this, you could just use a bootdisk with network support. Like Bart's Bootdisk (or a Ghost bootdisk with network support)

    Just start the computer into DOS mode and use fdisk to remove all partitions and then create a new one just like you have to do when installing any Windows 9X operating system, restart and then format your harddrive

    Now map the network drive, in this mapped network drive you only need to copy the contents of the i386 folder

    Change drive and directory to this shared i386 directory and run the setup program directly from there, it will copy the files to your local harddrive (this is why you need FAT32)
    When this is done the installation starts, it is actually much faster to do it this way when you have it setup if you have a fast network. Installing from cd-rom oftenly takes much longer...

    If you don't have a floppy you can use a network card that supports PXE boot, setup a small PXE server on one of your other computers and have it push a image like one of the two floppies mentioned above, steps after that are the same...

    I know I was not very specific but with these details you can easily find whole pages on google dedicated to this topic...
  12. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    Dear Zipperman

    What a bad attitude you have! If there were "karma points" or some way to rank you, I'd really stick it to you. :D

    For what its worth, one of the really cool things about working with computer is all the amazingly silly ways to approach situations.

    While RJ831 is trying to figure out how install XP without a CD, he might learn more about networking, learn how to create a Windows PE disk, learn more about the differences between bootable optical media, USB and IDE drives, etc... It's all part of the learning process.

    If I didn't do the 'useless' things RJ831 is aiming for, I probably wouldn't be where I am today, which is on this forum telling you to appreciate 'useless' questions more. :)

    There are lots of ways to approach this, including USB, networking, DOS - just as mentioned above. Sure, it is way more complicated than using a CD and yeah - getting a CDROM that works is probably the most sane way to do this - but why not challenge yourself? I say look around at how to create a bootable USB drive. That's going to be your most flexible option. Mind you that you WILL need access to another computer because you need to get those files off of that CD somehow.

    I'm AM curious about this though. Multiple optical drives quit working? That's very unlikely. Chances are you have a bad CD/DVD ROM and it is affecting the other one. Just as trying to get Windows installed without a CD is a learning experience, so is trying to troubleshoot your optical drives. :) I would pop the computer open and try each optical drive individually (disconnecting the other one from IDE and power cables) and setting the jumper to 'master' for each one you try. One of those drives have to be working, unless they've failed one by one over a longer period of time than I'm led to believe.
    terry5880 likes this.
  13. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,002   +15

    what caused the crash? If both your HD and your CD were took out then your PSU is probably bad. Before wasting anymore $, test it with a tool and a multimeter.
  14. bushwhacker

    bushwhacker TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 783

    Network installation, now that is new to me. Was it a quick transfer?

    how will i configure that?
  15. Per Hansson

    Per Hansson TS Server Guru Posts: 1,960   +218

    bushwhacker; just like I said in my post above, and which Rick put in plain text later

    The reason I am where I am today is because someone didn't teach me how to do this, I thaugt myself. And in the process got a better understanding for allot of different things

    This is why I was a little vague with details in my post above, if anyone (not necessarily the thread starter) takes the time to read my post and then use it as a guide for searching for info on google and manage to do a network install like this he will gain allot of knowledge in many areas

    I can't myself put my finger on how I actually learnt IT but for sure what does it is the interest to try new stuff and never take the easy way out. Here I fully agree with Rick and his feelings about the comment by zipperman above.
    This thread is a very sensible one and a comment like that one by zipperman really puts me off. I was going to do a 24 hour ban but as I so infrequently visit this site now (which I am sorry for) I felt I should not step in and do that.

    Maybe this post of me does not help you with your problem so much you have now but if you follow what I said in my previous post. Plus Rick's post I promise you that you will leran more in the process

    And just like Rick said there are many ways you could gain knowledge here. You could do a network install of Windows, in any of the ways I described above
    Or, you could try troubleshooting why the CD-ROM isn't working.
    Maybe the controller on the mainboard is bad, maybe something needs a BIOS update.
    Maybe a BIOS setting is incorrect
    Or maybe you have a problem with your powersupply, or the IDE cable
    The possibilites are many, but with logical trouble shooting you can come to a conculsion quickly
  16. w2fst4u

    w2fst4u TS Rookie


    there is a couple ways to format a hard drive with out a cd rom #1 partition magic floppy disk #2there is a universal boot disk that will install format everything that you would need u can get one at i think that's the right address i might be able to send you a copy of it if you have aim
  17. bushwhacker

    bushwhacker TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 783

    Sorry Per Hannson, I didn't read your previous post, but I will try on that anyway.

    Thank you :)
  18. kintz2002

    kintz2002 TS Rookie

    Remove your hard drive from a laptop then install it to known good CD rom player then reformat... after you reformat the hard drive, remove it then install it again to your laptop, then reformat it thru Dos(cmd).
  19. RJ831

    RJ831 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 77

    Oh I've already resolved this. I had a bad motherboard. =)
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