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I've got a hard drive connected to my PC with eSATA. I'd like to install Windows XP on it without having to reboot the computer.

What is the best/easiest/quickest way of doing this?

I plan on inserting the hard drive into an other PC later on.

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You will need to use a Pre-Install Kit that OEM vendors have when they buy Windows Packs. The installation has to continue on the target PC.. but you can use Windows Installation Scripts to automate settings, and post install software.. Not a small job though.. takes some time to perfect it. – ppumkin Feb 2 '12 at 15:37
up vote 5 down vote accepted

The install will require a reboot.

Moving it to a new PC will also create issues with hardware incompatibility and driver stability.

Can you provide more info on what you wish to accomplish beyond getting XP installed on the eSATA drive?

Given the cost of a CD/DVD (or the time to "borrow" one from a working system) getting a working CD/DVD is a much better option

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I wish to reinstall Windows on an old computer with a broken cdrom, so, I've disconnected the hard drive and plugged it into hdd communicator. I want to install on it windows XP without it polluting the boot space (e g adding itself to the boot options) – Arsen Zahray Feb 2 '12 at 14:03
@ArsenZahray - As Dave points out. What you want to do will cause a lot of problem, you WILL NOT be able to use the installation, on any either computer. The first thing you need to do is replace the optical drive – Ramhound Feb 2 '12 at 14:12
I hoped to avoid that. ugh.... – Arsen Zahray Feb 2 '12 at 14:13

Extract a .wim file to the disk. This will probably take about 15-20 min. or longer depending on the transfer rates for the HDD and CD/DVD. I know Windows 7 DVDs have an install.wim that uses the default settings. Windows XP does not, but if you have a wim file that you created with ImageX, that would probably be the most convenient way to set it up. However, you will have to reboot after it is done extracting the files, but at least you can continue to work during the copying/extracting files part.

If you do not already have a wim file, you will have to create one (you can set up a VM, run sysprep, and create the wim file). Unfortunately this will not save time unless you have to install it multiple times.

You can also go into Device Manager and select Action > Scan for hardware changes, but you may have to reboot a couple of times. Running sysprep with the generalize option will clear hardware-specific settings and drivers, but may cause problems with activation.

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XP does not use wim files for install. – Moab Feb 2 '12 at 16:18
@Moab - XP can be installed from a wim file, if you have one. It may not be included on the installation disk though. – ctype.h Feb 2 '12 at 16:45
"may not", its definitely not on any legitimate XP install disc – Moab Feb 2 '12 at 16:58
I don't have an XP install disk anymore. I just remember that Windows 2000 and later can be installed from a wim file. – ctype.h Feb 2 '12 at 17:09
wim was invented for Vista, did not exist before – Moab Feb 2 '12 at 21:32

Use VMware for installing the Operating System.

So that it can be movable easily.

VMware Player
The Easiest Way to Run a Virtual Machine

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How exactly would that work? The OP wants to boot from the drive later on. – slhck Feb 2 '12 at 14:24
On VMware settings, we can change the drive letter accordingly. So it should not create any problem while using across PC. – Siva Charan Feb 2 '12 at 14:30
Can you describe how to do that? I'm quite familiar with VMware, but how exactly do you have to install it? – slhck Feb 2 '12 at 14:31
ok I will do that – Siva Charan Feb 2 '12 at 14:33
It can work if you isntall vmPlayer and boot the Vm in the VMPLAyer.. you see – ppumkin Feb 2 '12 at 15:28

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