Ask the Doctor: Boot XP from USB


How can I make a bootable copy of my XP Pro operating system on my 16GB USB 2.0 flash memory stick? Many of the OS files cannot be copied from my computer using Windows Explorer because they are in use. I have tried just about everything.

My computer has an option for USB booting and I would like to have the emergency boot stick as a backup.

Phil Barnes

Phil, although it’s possible to boot a vanilla install of Windows XP from a USB flash drive, we think it’s more trouble than it’s worth, for a number of reasons—performance foremost. We prefer to use Bart’s PE Builder ( ) to create a custom streamlined XP install, with plenty of built-in tools to help diagnose, repair, and retrieve data from your computer in case of an emergency. The result is a build of XP that looks a little different than you’re used to, but is perfect for what you need. And you can even include utilities and plugins such as virus scanners and other tools to maximize the usefulness. You will need a legitimate XP install disc, but the detailed documentation on BartPE’s website will have you rockin’ your bootable XP flash drive in no time.

SUBMIT YOUR QUESTION Are flames shooting out of the back of your rig? First, grab a fire extinguisher and douse the flames. Once the pyrotechnic display has fizzled, email the doctor at for advice on how to solve your technological woes.

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