How To Plan Your Windows XP Installation

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If you’re planning on installing Windows XP on a new, empty hard drive then this step by step guide is for you. This guide is broken into three, 10-step parts and will walk you through every part of the installation. The most important before setting up Windows XP is to check the minimum system requirements for installation. Microsoft sets these minimum standards based on their own tests of what kind of computer system will be able to handle the basic tasks of the operating system. Because a faster system will make for a much more enjoyable Windows XP user experience, I highly recommend that you not only meet but greatly exceed these requirements.

Note: The steps and screen shots shown in these 30 steps refer specifically to Windows XP Professional but will also serve perfectly well as a guide to installing Windows XP Home Edition.

Boot From the Windows XP CD

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To begin the Windows XP installation process, you will need to boot from the Windows XP CD.

1. Watch for a Press any key to boot from CD… message similar to the one shown in the screenshot above.

2. Press a key to force the computer to boot from the Windows CD. If you do not press a key, your PC will attempt to boot to the next device in the boot order, which is probably your hard drive. Since your hard drive has no operating system on it, the boot process will fail.

Press F6 to Install a Third Party Driver

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The Windows Setup screen will appear and a number of files and drivers necessary for the setup process will load. Toward the beginning of this process, a message will appear that says Press F6 if you need to install a third party SCSI or RAID driver…. As long as you are installing from a Windows XP SP2 CD, this step is probably not necessary. On the other hand, if you’re installing from an older version of the Windows XP installation CD and you have an SATA hard drive, you will need to press F6 here to load any necessary drivers. The instructions that came with your new hard drive should include this information. For most users though, this step can be ignored.

Press ENTER to Set Up Windows XP

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After the necessary files and drivers are loaded, the Windows XP Professional Setup screen will appear. Since this will be a new installation of Windows XP, press Enter to setup Windows XP now.

Read and Accept the Windows XP Licensing Agreement

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The next screen that appears is the Windows XP Licensing Agreement screen. Read through the agreement and press F8 to confirm that you agree with the terms.

Tip: Press the Page Down key to advance through the licensing agreement faster. This is not to suggest that you should skip reading the agreement though! You should always read “small print” especially when it comes to operating systems and other software.

Create a Partition

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Since your hard drive is probably new or has never been used, all of the space on it is unpartitioned. In this step, you will create a new partition for Windows XP to use. Using the arrow keys on your keyboard, highlight the line that says Unpartitioned space. Press C to create a partition on this unpartitioned space.

Warning Note: You may have other partitions on this drive and on other drives that may be installed in your PC. If so, you may have a number of entries here. Be careful not to remove partitions that you may be using as this will remove all data from those partitions permanently.

Choose a Partition Size

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Here you need to choose a size for the new partition. This will become the size of the C drive, the main drive on your PC that Windows XP will install to. This is also the drive that all of your software and data will probably reside on unless you have additional partitions set aside for those purposes. Unless you are planning on creating additional partitions from within Windows XP after the installation process (for any number of reasons), it’s usually wise to create a partition at the maximum size possible. For most users, the default number provided will be the maximum space available and the best choice. Press Enter to confirm the partition size.

Choose a Partition to Install Windows XP On

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Highlight the line with the newly created partition and press Enter to set up Windows XP on the selected partition.

Note: Even if you created a partition at the maximum size available, there will always be a relatively small amount of space left over that will not be included in the partitioned space. This will be labeled as Unpartitioned space in the list of partitions, as shown in the screen shot above.

Choose a File System to Format the Partition

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For Windows XP to install on a partition on a hard drive, it has to be formatted to use a particular file system – either the FAT file system format or the NTFS file system format. NTFS is more stable and secure than FAT and is always the recommended choice for a new Windows XP installation. Using the arrow keys on your keyboard, highlight the line that says Format the partition using the NTFS file system and press Enter.

Wait for the New Partition to Format

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Depending on the size of the partition that you are formatting and the speed of your computer, formatting the partition could take anywhere from a few minutes to several minutes or hours.

Wait for the Windows XP Installation Files to Copy

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Windows XP Setup will now copy the necessary installation files from the Windows XP installation CD to the newly formatted partition – the C drive. This step usually only takes a few minutes and no user intervention is necessary.

Windows XP Installation Begins

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Windows XP will now begin installing. No user intervention is necessary.

Note: The Setup will complete in approximately: time estimation on the left is based on the number of tasks that the Windows XP setup process has left to complete, not on a true estimation of the time it will take to complete them. Usually the time here is an exaggeration. Windows XP will probably be setup sooner than this.

Choose Regional and Language Options

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During installation, the Regional and Language Options window will appear. The first section allows you to change the default Windows XP language and the default location. If the options listed match your preferences, no changes are necessary. If you wish to make changes, click on the Customize… button and follow the directions given to install new languages or change locations. The second section allows you to change the default Windows XP input language and device. If the options listed match your preferences, no changes are necessary. If you wish to make changes, click on the Details… button and follow the directions given to install new input languages or change input methods. After you’ve made any changes, or if you’ve determined no changes are necessary, click Next >.

Enter Your Name and Organization

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In the Name: text box, enter your full name. In the Organization text box, enter your organization or business name. Click Next > when complete. In the next window (not shown), enter the Windows XP product key. This key should have come with your Windows XP purchase.

Note: If you’re installing Windows XP from a Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) CD, you will not be prompted to enter a product key at this time. Click Next > when complete.

Enter a Computer Name and Administrator Password

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The Computer Name and Administrator Password window will appear next. In the Computer name: text box, Windows XP Setup has suggested a unique computer name for you. If your computer will be on a network, this is how it will be identified to other computers. Feel free to change the computer name to anything you wish. In the Administrator password: text box, enter a password for the local administrator account. This field can be left blank but it’s not recommended to do so for security purposes. Confirm this password in the Confirm password: text box. Click Next > when complete.

Set the Date and Time

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In the Date and Time Settings window, set the correct date, time and time zone settings. Click Next > when complete.

Choose the Networking Settings

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The Networking Settings window will appear next with two options for you to choose from – Typical settings or Custom settings. If you’re installing Windows XP in on a single computer or a computer on a home network, chances are the correct option to choose is Typical settings. If you’re installing Windows XP in a corporate environment, you may need to choose the Custom settings option but check with your system administrator first. Even in this case, the Typical settings option is probably the right one. If you’re not sure, choose Typical settings. Click Next >.

Enter a Workgroup or Domain Name

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The Workgroup or Computer Domain window will appear next with two options for you to choose from – No, this computer is not on a network, or is on a network without a domain… or Yes, make this computer a member of the following domain:. If you’re installing Windows XP on a single computer or a computer on a home network, chances are the correct option to choose is No, this computer is not on a network, or is on a network without a domain…. If you’re on a network, enter the workgroup name of that network here. Otherwise, feel free to leave the default workgroup name and continue. If you’re installing Windows XP in a corporate environment, you may need to choose the Yes, make this computer a member of the following domain: option and enter a domain name but check with your system administrator first. If you’re not sure, choose No, this computer is not on a network, or is on a network without a domain…. Click Next >.

Wait for the Windows XP Installation to Finalize

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The Windows XP installation will now finalize. No user intervention is necessary.

Wait for Restart and First Windows XP Boot

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Your PC will automatically restart and proceed to load Windows XP for the first time.

Accept Automatic Display Settings Adjustment

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After the Windows XP start up splash screen appeared in the last step, a window titled Display

Settings will appear. Click OK to allow Windows XP to automatically adjust the screen resolution.

Confirm Automatic Display Settings Adjustment

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The next window is titled Monitor Settings and is asking for confirmation that you can read the text on the screen. This will tell Windows XP that the automatic resolution changes it made in the previous step were successful. If you can clearly read the text in the window, click OK. If you can not read the text on the screen, the screen is garbled or not clear, click Cancel if you are able. If you can’t see the Cancel button, the screen will automatically revert to the previous setting in 20 seconds.

Begin Final Set Up of Windows XP 

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The Welcome to Microsoft Windows screen appears next, informing you that the next few minutes will be spent setting up your computer. Click Next –>.

Wait for Internet Connectivity Check

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The Checking your Internet connectivity screen appears next, informing you that Windows is checking to see if your computer is connected to the Internet. If you’d like to skip this step, click Skip –>.

Choose an Internet Connection Method

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In this step, Windows XP wants to know whether your computer connects to the Internet through a network or if it connects to the Internet directly. If you have high speed internet like DSL or Cable Internet and are using a router or if you’re on a home or business network, choose Yes, this computer will connect through a local area network or home network. If you are connecting directly to the Internet via a modem (dial-up or broadband like DSL or Cable), choose No, this computer will connect directly to the Internet. Windows XP will see most modern Internet connection setups, even those involving only a single PC, as on a network so the first option is probably the most likely choice for most users. If you’re really not sure though, choose No, this computer will connect directly to the Internet or click Skip –>. After making a choice, click Next –>.

Optionally Register Windows XP with Microsoft

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Registration with Microsoft is optional, but if you’d like to do that now, choose Yes, I’d like to register with Microsoft now, click Next -> and follow the instructions to register. Otherwise, choose No, not at this time and click Next –>.

Create Initial User Accounts

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In this step, setup wants to know the names of the users who will use Windows XP so it can setup individual accounts for each user. You must enter at least one name but can enter up to 5 here. More users can be entered from within Windows XP after installation is complete. After entering the account name(s), click Next -> to continue.

Finish Final Setup of Windows XP

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We’re almost there! All of the necessary files are installed and all of the necessary settings are configured. Click Finish -> to proceed to Windows XP.

Wait for Windows XP to Start

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Windows XP is now loading for the first time. This may take a minute or two depending on your computer’s speed.

Windows XP Installation is Complete!

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This completes the final step of installing Windows XP! Congratulations! If you’re new to Windows XP, click on the balloon (shown above) to take a tour. The first step after installing Windows XP is to proceed to Windows Update to install all of the latest updates and fixes from Microsoft. This is a very important step to ensure that your new installation of Windows XP is secure and up to date.

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