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Installing XP

Esteemed Contributor III

I just purchased the Intel SSD 320 series 80 GB drive. I have a three year old Dell desktop with the XP installation CD disk. I do not want to migrate my old hard drive to the new ssd drive. I want to start clean with the installation disk.

I understand these ssd drives come unformatted. I'm not sure if I have to format it first. Can I simply remove my old hard drive, install the new ssd drive, boot up from the installation disk and install xp on my new SSD drive? Is it that simple?


New Contributor

It seems like activity is pretty sparse on this site so sorry for the late reply. If you havn't installed XP yet, yes you can simply install as is but it won't be near optimum for your ssd.

To run XP optimized for an ssd you want to able to use AHCI mode in the bios. Windows XP doesn't natively support AHCI so you need to install the driver with the installation.

Use the latest Intel Rapid Storage Technology Drivers. On the Intel site for IRST there's a driver that you can load onto a floppy drive to insert with your installation CD. There's one big problem with this method as there are very few floppy drives that XP will recognize. I tried this myself and XP wouldn't see the floppy. Bootable USB's and CD's don't work to install drivers with XP.

The method I found to be easiest is slipstreaming the driver into a bootable ISO of your install CD with a program called Nlite. This is actually very easy to do, takes about 20 minutes to make the ISO. Here's all you need to do.

1) Get a blank DVD+R

2) Make a new folder on your desktop, label it XP or anything you want.

3) Insert your XP Install Disc and copy it to the new folder.

4) Download the IRST 'F6 Floppy Install Driver' and extract it to your desktop.

5) Download the latest Nlite software (it's free) you need .netframework 2.0 minimum to install it.

6) Run the Nlite software and it will guide you through the process of inserting the IRST driver and burning your ISO.

7) When you are ready to do the install insert your ISO, Go into the bios and set the drive to AHCI, set the first boot device to be your optical drive, save changes and hit the 'press any key to boot' when it appears.

There's also the matter of aligning your ssd as XP does not automatically do an ssd friendly partition alignment as does Win Vista or 7. Post back if you are interested and I can tell you an easy way to do it.

Esteemed Contributor III

Thank you for the response. I have created the ISO. Could you now please then advise on the way to align my SSD since XP does not automatically do a partition alignment?

Esteemed Contributor III

Easiest way is to use DISKPAR (not DISKPART -- two different commands) and follow the exact procedure that folks on the OCZ forums have documented:

Don't let the guide talking about the OCZ Vertex series fool you. The same procedure applies to all SSDs. The correct advice is when prompted for the offset in sectors, choose "128". For maximum partition size, if you want the entire drive dedicated to a single partition (e.g. C:), just pick the maximum size; don't futz around with that 8000 value shown in the screenshots.

Please keep in mind that to use DISKPAR you will need an existing Windows 2000/XP system with the SSD installed in it (and not as the boot drive). E.g. you need to "prep" the SSD and create the aligned partition before actually formatting the filesystem and installing XP on it.

That's all there is to it.

New Contributor


I had difficulty following the OCZ method with Diskpart. By far and away the easiest and most effective way to align your SSD with XP is an excellent application from Paragon, the 'Paragon Alignment Tool'.

I'ts $29 bucks but it takes all the guess work out of doing the alignment. I bought this and it's the best $29 I've spent. Very easy to use and takes just minutes to align the drive without all the technical hassle of the OCZ method.

I talked to the Paragon people before completeing the alignment and the best procedure is as follows:

1) Install your slipstreamed XP as mentioned in my first post and let it boot to your desktop.

2) Install just the latest chipset driver for your Dell System.

3) Load the Paragon Software and follow the steps to align. Very simple two or three step operation that takes very little time and doesn't require any command prompts or entering any exotic data.

4) You can also load all your drivers and finish your XP install first if you want. The reason I recommend doing the alignment after installing just the chipset driver is simply the alignment is quicker with the least amount of data on the drive.