How to Repair Windows XP


If your Windows XP installation becomes corrupt and you cannot boot into Windows normally or through Safe Mode, it may be possible to repair Windows without having to completely start over with a fresh installation. A Windows XP repair installation will overwrite the operating system files back to the original state, while leaving your programs and documents intact. This guide explains the process for repairing a corrupt Windows XP installation.

Disclaimer: This guide was intended to provide an accurate and well-established procedure for repairing a corrupt Windows XP installation. While we believe the information and procedures in this guide are true and accurate to the best of our ability, your use of this guide is solely at your own risk. Puget Custom Computers cannot be held liable for any consequential damage or loss to data or hardware.


Before you begin, you will need to have the following:

  1. A legal copy of Windows OEM XP Home or Professional
  2. Your Windows XP product key
  3. Required drivers for your motherboard, graphics cards, sound card, and any other device installed in your computer. (You may not need to reinstall any drivers, but just in case, it would be a good idea to have these drivers at hand.)
  4. A connection to the Internet

Important: Before you begin the Windows XP Repair process, disconnect any card readers, external hard drives and thumb drives.

Repair Process

To repair your Windows XP installation, you will need to boot your computer to the Windows XP installation CD. Your computer must be configured to boot from the CD or DVD drive first. You may need to configure your computer’s BIOS to boot priority to boot from the CD or DVD drive first. Please refer to your motherboard’s User Manual for instructions.

If you are using an Asus motherboard, you can also continually tap F8 during startup until the machine gives you the ‘BBS’ or ‘Boot Device Selection Menu’. In this menu, select the drive which has the DVD in it and press enter.

When you see the “Press any key to boot from CD” message on your screen, press any key to start the computer from the Windows XP CD-ROM.

Windows XP will examine your computer’s hardware and load necessary drivers to begin the installation process. You needn’t do anything at this point until you get to the Welcome to Setup screen which offers you the following choices:

  • To set up Windows XP now, press Enter
  • To repair a Windows XP installation using Recovery Console, press R (Do not select this option)
  • To quit Setup without installing Windows XP, press F3

Press Enter to install Windows XP on your computer.

The next screen you will see is the End User License Agreement (EULA). You must accept this agreement by pressing the F8 key in order to proceed with the installation process.

You now enter into the Windows XP Setup menu. Press Enter to start the installation process. Use the UP and DOWN ARROW keys to select the Windows installation that you want to repair, then press ENTER.

This next screen is the Windows XP Setup Screen where you can select to either repair a current Windows XP Installation, or install a fresh copy of Windows XP. Use your ARROW keys to select the copy of Windows that you want to repair, and then press R to start the repair process.

Windows Setup will delete your current Windows installation and then copy necessary files to your hard drive. This process will take a few minutes. Once complete, Windows Setup will restart your computer and continue with the installation process.

Here you have the option to change language, time and date formats, currency formats. Click Next to continue to the next screen.

Enter the 25-character Product code for your Windows XP Installation. The product code can be found either on a Certificate of Authenticity sticker on the back of your computer, or with your Windows XP installation kit. You must enter this Product key in order to complete the Windows XP installation. Click Next to continue to the next screen.

Windows Setup will now finish repairing your copy of Windows XP. You should now be able to boot normally into Windows.

Installing Drivers

Now that Windows is installed, the next step is to verify that your hardware drivers are correctly installed.

To verify or update a driver, click on the Start button, then right-click on My Computer, and select Properties. Select the Hardware tab, and open the Device Manager. The Device Manager presents you with information and status for every device in your computer. Devices presented with a Question Mark, an Exclamation mark, or a red X indicate the device either does not have a driver installed, or that there is a problem preventing the device from functioning properly. Double-clicking on the device will present you with more information and options.

You can use the Device Manager to install any drivers you need to reinstall. To use the Device Manager to update drivers, right-click on the device in question, and select Properties from the menu. From the device’s Properties window, select the Driver tab, and then select Update Drivers. Windows will attempt to locate the driver on a CD, a local hard drive, or over the Internet if you select the “Install the software automatically” option. If you know where the driver file is, you can choose the advanced option and point the hardware wizard to the driver.

Follow these steps if you need to reinstall drivers for your motherboard resources, graphics card or sound card.

Motherboard Resources: Your motherboard probably came with a CD containing drivers for components on your motherboard such as chipsets, USB, Ethernet, and onboard devices such as audio or video. These drivers should be installed first. Use the CD that came with your motherboard to install these drivers if needed. Later if you wish, you can update these drivers from the vendor website.

Graphics and Sound (If not built into the motherboard): Install the drivers and software for your graphics and sound cards either from the accompanying software or by downloading the latest drivers from the vendor websites.

Windows Updates

Now that you have finished repairing Windows XP and your hardware drivers, the next step is to install critical Windows updates. For this, you will need a connection to the Internet.

Click on Start, All Programs, Windows Update. This connects to Microsoft’s website through Internet Explorer.

Next click on the Express tab. Microsoft will scan your computer for installed updates and then present a list of updates available for your computer.

After you have the critical updates have been downloaded and installed, you will be required to restart your computer. Once your computer has rebooted, repeat this process until there are no more critical updates.


Congratulations! You have now successfully completed a Windows XP repair installation!

If you experience technical difficulty during or after this process, please contact our technical support department for assistance.

Puget Systems
Technical Support Department
425.458.0273 x2
[email protected]