Creating a USB boot disk is a simple process that helps keep your computer running for years. If your computer crashes, a boot disk allows you (or your computer technician) to access the important parts of your system to attempt to fix the problem. With Windows XP Professional Edition, your installation disk is already bootable, but you can create a bootable USB flash drive in case your CD fails due to scratches.
Insert your Windows XP Pro installation disk into your computer's optical drive and plug your USB flash drive into a free USB port.
Open your web browser and go to Wintoflash.com. Select "English" and click on the link under "Latest Version" to download Novicorp's WinToFlash, a free flash boot-disk creation utility. WinToFlash eliminates the possibility that you'll inadvertently format your hard drive during this process.
Install and open WinToFlash. Start the Wizard and click "Select" (located next to "Windows Source Path") to select the drive containing your Windows XP Professional installation disk.
Click the "Select" button next to the "USB drive" field and make sure that your USB flash drive is selected. Click "Next" and follow the on-screen prompts to finish making your USB flash drive bootable.
To use your new boot disk, you will need to let your computer know that you want to boot from your USB flash drive instead of your hard drive. To do this, access the BIOS (by pressing "F2," "F10" or another key right after turning on your computer--the exact key will be displayed on your monitor) and open the "Boot" menu. Move the "USB" entry to the top of the list to make your flash drive the computer's first choice during start-up.
Don't install your copy of Windows XP Professional on other people's computers. If you break copyright laws, you run the risk of a fine, jail time or both.