Upgrade a Windows XP Recovery CD to a full installation one

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 7, 2006
Updated • Nov 6, 2017
Windows, Windows XP

When you buy a pre-build computer system it usually ships with an operating system that is already installed on it. These systems may not ship with a full copy of the operating system. They may ship with a recovery CD that you can use to restore the operating system when it does not boot anymore, or with options to create such a disc when it does not ship with one.

Either way, this makes it impossible to install the operating system on a new system that you may buy or have. The only option that you have in this case is to buy an extra copy of Windows and use it to install it on the new system.

What many users do not know is that they have options to turn a recovery CD into a bootable standalone CD that they can use to install the Windows XP operating system.

You only need one tool and the recovery CD of course. Download the tool XP Iso Builder and install it on your system. Create a temp directory for the new CD on your hard drive, name it XP for instance. Copy the complete recovery CD to the temporary folder. Make sure you copy hidden and system files as well (check in folder options that they are shown when you browse directories).

You may want to delete the folder $OEM$ in the temporary directory, it contains software that the manufacturers added to the recovery CD. This software is normally not needed.

xp iso builder

Start XP Iso Builder and make sure the language is set correctly.

  1. Click on the button convert recovery disk to get started.
  2. Select your operating system under (1).
  3. Browse to the temp dir in (2).
  4. Click on Search through hard drive automatically in (3).
  5. The i386 folder should be at least 420 megabytes in size, if more than one is found select the one with that size. The folder has to be on your hard drive and not in the temp XP folder that we created before.
  6. Select start to begin the process and close when it is finished.
  7. Click on Start Choose Folder / Drive in the main window and select the temporary folder that we created.
  8. Select No afterwards.

Integrate Service Pack 3

If the recovery CD does not contain Service Pack 3 you can integrate it to automatically so that you do not have to install it manually afterwards. Download Windows XP service pack 3 Network Installation Package for IT Professionals and Developers. Save the file to your hard drive and select Integrate Service Pack in XP Iso Builder. Browse to the file and select it, the integration of the service pack should begin.

Download and integrate Updates

After we have integrated the service pack we can integrate new updates as well that have been released for the operating system. The easiest way is to use an update pack that contains all updates since the release of service pack 3. One location to download that file would be the winboard website. Unpack the downloaded file on your hard drive and select the entry (8) Service Updates from the xp iso builder menu.

Browse to the folder that you unpacked the files to and hit ok once you are done. All updates will be added to your installation which may take a couple of minutes.

Create the actual ISO image

Select (11) Finish from the menu and click on start integration. Select a filename and the creation starts.

After this is done you are ready to burn the iso to a cd with a tool like Nero for instance.

That is it. You created a full windows xp installation cd from your recovery cd and may now install it on different computers.

Upgrade a Windows XP Recovery CD to a full installation one
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Upgrade a Windows XP Recovery CD to a full installation one
Did you know that you can upgrade a Windows XP recovery CD to a full installation using a free program so that you can use the new creation to install Windows?
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  1. Dan Donx said on January 15, 2023 at 10:29 am

    What mental age of reader are you targeting with the first sentence? 10?

    Why not write an article on how to *avoid* upgrading from W10 to W11. Analogous to those like me who avoided upgrading from 7 to 10 for as long as possible.

    If your paymaster Microsoft permits it, of course.

  2. Dexter said on January 15, 2023 at 11:14 am

    5. Rufus
    6. Ventoy

    PS. I hate reading these “SEO optimized” articles.

    1. cdr said on January 15, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      I used Rufus to create an installer for a 6th gen intel i5 that had MBR. It upgraded using Setup. No issues except for Win 11 always prompting me to replace my local account. Still using Win 10 Pro on all my other PCs to avoid the bullying.

  3. sv said on January 15, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    bit pointless to upgrade for the sake of upgrading as you never know when you’ll get locked out because ms might suddenly not provide updates to unsupported systems.

    ps…. time travelling?
    written. Jan 15, 2023
    Updated • Jan 13, 2023

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 16, 2023 at 5:49 am

      This happens when you schedule a post in WordPress and update it before setting the publication date.

  4. Anonymous said on January 16, 2023 at 8:24 am

    Anyone willing to downgrade to this awful OS must like inflicting themselves with harm.

  5. basingstoke said on January 16, 2023 at 11:18 am

    I have become convinced now that anybody who has no qualms with using Windows 11/10 must fit into one of the following brackets:

    1) Too young to remember a time before W10 and W11 (doesn’t know better)

    2) Wants to play the latest games on their PC above anything else (or deeply needs some software which already dropped W7 support)

    3) Doesn’t know too much about how computers work, worried that they’d be absolutely lost and in trouble without the “”latest security””

    4) Microsoft apologist that tries to justify that the latest “features” and “changes” are actually a good thing, that improve Windows

    5) Uses their computer to do a bare minimum of like 3 different things, browse web, check emails, etc, so really doesn’t fuss

    Obviously that doesn’t cover everyone, there’s also the category that:

    6) Actually liked W7 more than 10, and held out as long as possible before switching, begrudgingly uses 10 now

    Have I missed any group off this list?

    1. Heinz Strunk said on September 19, 2023 at 3:57 pm

      You have missed in this group just about any professional user that uses business software like CAD programs or ERP Programs which are 99% of all professional users from this list.

      Linux doesn’t help anyone who is not a linux kid and apple is just a fancy facebook machine.

  6. ilev said on August 24, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    Microsoft has removed KB5029351 update

    1. EP said on August 24, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      only from windows update though
      KB5029351 is still available from the ms update catalog site

  7. Anonymous said on August 24, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    1. This update is labaled as PREVIEW if it causes issues to unintelligent people, then they shouldn’t have allowed Preview updates ot install.

    2. I have installed it in a 11 years old computer, and no problems at all.

    3. Making a big drama over a bluescreen for an updated labeled as preview is ridiculous.

    This is probably another BS internet drama where people ran programs and scripts that modified the registry until they broke Windows, just for removing stuff that they weren’t even using just for the sake of it.
    Maybe people should stop playing geeks and actually either use Windows 10 or Windows 11, but don’t try to modify things just for the sake of it.

    Sometimes removing or stopping things (like defender is a perfect example) only need intelligence, not scripts or 3rd party programs that might mess with windows.

  8. john said on August 24, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    Windows 11 was a pointless release, it was just created because some of the Windows team wanted to boost sales with some sort of new and improved Windows 10. Instead, Microsoft cannot support one version well let alone two.

    1. John G. said on August 25, 2023 at 12:08 pm

      Windows 11 is the worst ugly shame by Microsoft ever. They should release with every new W11 version a complete free version of Starallback inside just to make this sh** OS functionally again.

  9. EP said on August 25, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released a statement regarding the “unsupported processor” blue screen error for their boards using Intel 600/700 series chipsets & to avoid the KB5029351 Win11 update:

  10. EP said on August 29, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    check out the following recent articles:

    Neowin – Microsoft puts little blame on its Windows update after UNSUPPORTED PROCESSOR BSOD bug:

    BleepingComputer – Microsoft blames ‘unsupported processor’ blue screens on OEM vendors:

  11. Leonard Britvolli said on August 30, 2023 at 10:33 pm

    While there may be changes or updates to the Windows 10 Store for Business and Education in the future, it is premature to conclude that it will be discontinued based solely on rumors.

  12. sembrador said on September 5, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    My advice, I left win 15 years ago. Now I’m a happy linux user (linuxmint) but there is Centos, Fedora, Ubuntu depending on your needs.

  13. EP said on September 6, 2023 at 11:55 am

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released new BIOS/firmware updates for their Intel 600 & 700 series motherboards to fix the “UNSUPPORTED_PROCESSOR” problem (Sept. 6):


  14. Raphael Benzo said on September 24, 2023 at 9:52 pm

    I try to disable the Diagnostics Tracking Service (Connected Devices Platform User Services) but it wont let me disable it, any help will be greatly appreciated.
    Tank you for your help

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