Creating an Updated XP SP2 Recovery CD

by whoozhe
May 25, 2005

(Intermediate to Guru or not for the faint hearted)
This process will only work with the original XP release. It will not work with XP SP1 or Custom XP CD's
If you rely on your PC to get your work done, you probably won't be able to afford a weekend without it. If you take the time now to prepare (and test) a recovery disc, you can rest assured that you'll be able to get your PC back up and running quickly in case of any problems.

These days many systems come with a recovery disk that would reinstall all the software and drivers that were installed when the computer was new.

Chances are the CD is long gone, ruined or hidden amid 100's of others. Maybe this is a good thing as most of these recovery disks wipe out everything and restore the computer back to condition it was on the day you first turned it on.

Even if you do have that CD handy it will be out of date. The drivers will be old and if you have added new hardware and/or installed SP2 then totally useless.

So what can be done. Well make a new Recovery CD that will include SP2 and all the latest drivers.

The following will show you how to do just that and one where you can reinstall windows or a required driver separately or do a full recovery.

To achieve this you will need a few essentials

1. An original Windows XP CD,
2. A valid Windows product key. The XP 25-digit product key from the original sleeve or on a sticker on the PC. (If you can't find it go to magicaljellybean. This will extract it from the registry) If all fails contact the vendor or Microsoft for a new one.
3. A collection of your most essential hardware drivers
4. A copy of your backup software so you can access your archived data.
5. Go to Microsoft's Web site and search for the "Windows XP Service Pack 2 Network Installation Package for IT Professionals and Developers." Download the 272MB file, WindowsXP-KB835935-SP2-ENU.exe, and save it to a new folder on your hard drive, C:\sp2
Note see footnotes if you have the SP2 CD.

Now if your system came with XP pre-installed contact the vendor. You are entitled to the Full Windows CD, after all you did pay for it. In most cases, you'll get one for free, no questions asked. In some instances with vendors like HP you may have to pay around $US20 for the CD. alternatively have a look around eBay for a cheaper full copy.

Here's the problem: Once you upgrade to SP2, you won't ever be able to install the original version of Windows XP over it. You would be forced to reformat and start from scratch.

The solution is to create a new hybrid installation CD from your original Windows XP CD and a special version of SP2, a process known as slipstreaming.

To create a slipstreamed Windows XP-SP2 CD, first create a new folder called "XP" in the root folder of your hard drive, e.g.C:\XP. (You'll need about a gigabyte of free space.) Insert your original Windows XP CD, start Windows Explorer, and then navigate to your CD drive (usually D:). Highlight everything in the root folder of the CD and copy it all to the C:\XP folder you just created.

Now we should have 2 new folders, C:\sp2 with the above file and C:\XP with a copy of the XP CD root folder.

Open a Command Prompt window (Start | All Programs | Accessories | Command Prompt), and then type this command at the prompt:
c:\sp2\WindowsXP-KB835935-SP2-ENU /integrate:c:\xp (suggest you cut and paste this command)

If all goes well, the process should take a minute or two and then conclude with a simple completed message box. (If it doesn't work, then your copy of Windows XP can't be slipstreamed.)

The Windows XP SP2 set-up files should now consume about 600MB , leaving about 100MB free when they are placed on a garden-variety CD-R. Use this space to include drivers for your most important hardware devices. You can download the appropriate drivers from the hardware manufacturers' Web sites.

In the C:\XP folder, create a new folder called DRIVERS, and then create a sub folder for each driver. For instance, create a VIDEO folder for your display adapter drivers, a NETWORK folder for your Ethernet or wireless-network adapter driver, and MODEM for your modem driver (if needed). Make sure to include all drivers and software you will need to get your PC connected to the Internet. Once your Internet connection is up and running, you'll be able to download the less-vital drivers, such as those for your printer and sound card.

To be certain all these drivers will work when you need them, don't use anything you haven't personally tested. And don't forget to expand any ZIP files or self-extracting EXE files now, so that you'll be able to access the individual driver files during Windows set-up if needed.

Finally, if there's room on your CD-R, make a folder for your backup software so that you'll be able to get your data off your backup media. Likewise, include any SCSI, tape drive, or FireWire drivers you might need to access your backup devices.

Next, you make your recovery CD bootable by using IsoBuster to extract the boot loader from your original Windows XP CD. In IsoBuster, select your CD drive from the list, highlight the Bootable CD folder on the left, and then drag the BootImage.img file from IsoBuster to your hard drive.

Now it's time to burn a new CD. You'll need CD-burning software capable of creating a bootable CD, such as Roxio Easy Media Creator 7, or Nero Burning ROM 6 or later ( Nero link ). Just drag the entire contents of the C:\xp folder to your CD project, and then use the BootImage.img file for the boot image data (refer to your CD-burning software manual for details). When you're ready, burn the CD.

If you have only a Service Pack 2 update disc, then you may still be able to slipstream it. Just open the disc in Windows Explorer, and see if there's a 272,391 kb (278,927,592 byte) file of type "Application" (i.e. an EXE file). If the file is there, you can use it in place of the WindowsXP-KB835935-SP2-ENU.exe file described in the article; otherwise, you'll need to get the file from the Microsoft website as instructed.
A direct link to the file is XP-SP2.

Most recovery Disks contain an encrypted version of Windows XP or allow access to a hidden partition on the hard drive where is resides. These disks are not usuable for slipstreaming. An Original XP CD is required.

You may encounter some problems. Here are some solutions.

No Bootimage.img file?

If you have an OEM (Manufacturer-specific) version of Windows XP or the custom recovery disc provided by your PC vendor you may not find the file when you view your Windows XP CD with ISO Buster. Use the .img file you see there (e.g. Microsoft Corporation.img), it should do the job just fine. However, it may turn out that your particular CD simply can't be slipstreamed.

C:\xp and C:\sp2 folders can both be deleted once the full process is completed. No change is made to the system.
Test the CD by booting up with it in the CD drive. Your CMOS seetting must include the CD drive in th Boot Sequence.
If you see the menu when you boot up then the CD should be working ok. Remove and store. Make a copy, make several. Be safe.

Any problems then PM me. I have some possible work arounds for some problems.