Building an USB Rescue Stick for Windows XP Part 1

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 12, 2007
Updated • Oct 13, 2015
Windows, Windows tips

It is always a good idea to have a rescue disk or stick at hand in case you encounter issues when you are working with Windows PCs.

This could be a system that is not booting properly, Windows not starting up or errors in Windows that prevent that you from working normally with the system.

I'm going to explain how everyone who is running Windows XP Service Pack 2 can create a USB Rescue Stick and use that stick to rescue and repair the system.

The first part of this article explains what you need to create an USB Rescue Stick both hardware and software wise. All required download links are given in this part so that you can start the downloads right away. The second part describes how the rescue environment is customized and created in the end.

You do need an USB stick that has at least 256 Megabytes of space and a motherboard that supports booting from USB sticks. Consult the manual of your motherboard to see if this is possible or try it out by connecting an USB stick to your computer and opening the bios configuration.

Preparing the System:

You do need a software called Bart PE which will be used to create the bootable USB Rescue Stick, two files from the Microsoft Windows 2003 Server Service Pack 1 download and the Windows XP Service Pack 2 CD.

Download Bart PE and install or unpack it. We need to unpack the Windows 2003 Server Service Pack 1, this is done using the following command in the command line. (Start > Run > cmd > Enter)

Change to the directory of the executable and enter the following phrase:

>WindowsServer2003-KB889101-SP1-x86-ENU.exe /x

This asks for a directory to unpack the executable to, just enter one and hit enter. Hint: You do not have to enter the full file name, just start typing and hit tab after WindowsServer and Windows should fill out the rest of the filename automatically so taht you only need to add /x at the end.

Now create a new directory, name it srsp1 for example and move the following two files into that directory: ramdisk.sy_ and setupldr.bin which are both located in the i386 folder after unpacking the Service Pack 1. The rest of the folders and files of the service pack can be deleted afterwards.

We have to expand the file ramdisk.sy_ afterwards. This is also done from the command line. Change the directory to the SP1 folder and enter the following command:

expand ramdisk.sy_ ramdisk.sys

Now delete the old ramdisk.sy_ file in the directory. We have finished all preparations and the article will continue in part 2.

Article Name
Building an USB Rescue Stick for Windows XP Part 1
First part of a two-part series that walks you through the steps of creating a system rescue disc for Windows XP.

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