I386 Folder and reinstallation

By composer_inthemist ·
Can Windows XP be reinstalled using the files in the I386 folder? A friend asked me if he could create a boot cd and reinstall windows using this folder, as he doesn't have the original manufacturer's disc. I told him I rather doubted that he could reinstall XP sans OS disc --particularly since he wants to wipe the PC clean-- but am not completely certain.

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Simple answer is NO

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to I386 Folder and reinstall ...

However if you have a OEM or Retail version of the Install CD of the same version you can install from that though it may not have all the drivers that the computer that is being reloaded requires.

If your friends Computer is a Brand Name one they are better off contacting the maker and buying replacement Recovery CD's as they will install all the software that came packed with that particular computer as New and not just include Windows.


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I beg to differ

by composer_inthemist In reply to Simple answer is NO

After I wrote my initial post, I did some indepth research and found several good articles, for just such a procedure. We created a bootable Windows setup disk from the I386 Directory/Folder and with my help, he was, in fact able to reinstall his OS. He didn't have sound, initally, but we resolved that issue as well- so it acually CAN be done.

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That is only possible if the original I386 file is present

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to I beg to differ

If a SP has been applied you are not likely to have such good results and you are unable to transfer that file to a different computer and use it to install from as it's locked to the hardware on that particular computer. Even extra Items Like Sound or Video will not work without the correct drivers so while in a few cases you can do what you wanted to do in the overwhelming number of cases involved the answer is still no as the Actually Boot CD writes the I386 File and then adds to is as the install continues so it's only a basic install file for supported hardware on 1 computer. If there are any changes other than CPU & RAM the I386 file will not have the necessary drivers for the computer.


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well no I must disagree strongly on just about...well everything

by brysoncasmond In reply to That is only possible if ...

First off I know this is an old topic but people still seem to be looking at it and I must say there are some clear errors in what you've said. Actually several to be quite honest.

First off a normal installation DOES NOT place the I386 folder at the root of installation drive, nor does it add to it afterwards, nor is it "locked" to 1 computer.
The I386 folder contains the installation files located on the installation cd for 2000/xp.
When it's placed at c it can be used to prevent you from having to supply the Installation CD when the OS needs it. And actually it can be placed anywhere you want as long as it's visible to the OS..yes even a network share using a UNC path.
And to tell the OS where that folder is you have to edit the registry at the following location HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\MICROSOFT\WINDOWS\CURRENTVERSION\SETUP
Look for a string value called SourcePath, right click and modify and enter the location of the I386 folder but not the I386 itself. So if you've placed the folder at the root of C just enter C NOT C:\I386
Now the question is what if I updated with servicepacks and such?? Won't my I386 be old an unuseable?? Uhmmm nope, look in the same place you found that reg key, see the ServicePackSourcePath? Yep you got it that's the location where service packs get stored, and windows will check there for new file versions and any services packs not included in the I386 folder.

Unless you actually streamline new service packs into that folder Windows won't update it anymore than it'll try and update the installation CD.

What you are talking about my friend is the WINDOWS folder NOT I386.

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