How to make an XP recovery disk

Updated April 17, 2017

If you've lost the XP recovery disk that came with your computer, you can make your own. A self-made XP recovery disk will help prepare you for a virus attack, computer crash, driver corruption and other software and hardware failure. Once you have upgraded Windows XP to Service Pack 3 (SP3), Windows will not allow you to install an older version of the operating system without performing a clean install. However, you can use a process known as slipstreaming to create a hybrid installation disk from your old install CD and a special version of SP3.

Create a folder in the root of your hard drive and title it "XP." (The root of your hard drive is the main folder for your hard disk, and it can be found by navigating from the Start menu to My Computer to Local Disk C:.) Insert your Windows install CD into the drive and navigate to the CD drive in Windows Explorer. Highlight everything in the root folder of the install CD and copy it to the folder you created (C:\XP).

Create another folder in the root of your hard drive and name it "SP3."

Download the Windows XP Service Pack 3 Network Installation Package file "WindowsXP-KB936929-SP3-x86-ENU.exe" from the Microsoft download centre and save it in the directory you just created (C:\SP3).

Navigate to the Start menu and choose "Run." Type the following command at the prompt and click "OK":

c:\sp3\WindowsXP-KB936929-SP3-x86-ENU /integrate:c:\xp

Type the command as a string with only a single space between ENU and /integrate and no spaces between the colons. If this step is completed correctly, you will see a "Completed" message.

Download and install ImgBurn from ImgBurn website.

Start ImgBurn, and click "Write files/folders to disk" on the first screen. Then, choose the "Advanced" tab, followed by the "Bootable Disk" tab. From the "Extract Boot Image" list, select the disk drive containing your XP install disk. Click the "Save" icon and save the BootImage.ima file to your C:\SP3 folder.

Using ImgBurn, choose the "Advanced" tab, followed by the "Bootable Disk" tab, and select the "Make Image Bootable" option. Use 0x7C0 for the load segment, and 4 for the sector count. Make sure you have selected the Joliet file system--the file system used by Microsoft within the Windows operating system. If you are prompted to choose a bootable disk emulation type, select "no emulation." Select the BootImage.ima file you created as the boot image. Copy the volume label from your original XP CD, and paste it as the disk label for your new project.

Drag the entire contents of the C:\XP folder into your CD project and burn the CD using ImgBurn.


Use a permanent marker to write your XP CD key on your new recovery disk. Your XP CD key is the unique identification number used to register the software locally on your machine and is typically found on the software disk or jewel case.

Things You'll Need

  • Windows XP install CD (any)
  • Valid Windows product key
  • 1.5 gigabytes free space on hard drive
  • ImgBurn software
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About the Author

William Paul Wentzell is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, holding bachelor's degrees in English and photojournalism. His work has been published in the New York Times, Deseret News, The Victoria Advocate and The Daily Texan.