Installing Windows XP on a SATA hard drive

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Installing Windows XP on a SATA hard drive is not a straight-forward task as Windows XP does not recognize the SATA drive. In order to install operating systems such as Windows XP on SATA drives, the latest SATA drivers are required.Download SATA drivers for the motherboard from the website and integrate them with the XP installation CD using software such as nLite. SATA drivers can also be installed as third party drivers; you will be prompted during the installation process. Without proper SATA drivers, installing Windows XP on a SATA hard drive is not possible as SATA mode would have to be disabled in the BIOS to continue with the installation.

Installing Windows XP on a Serial ATA hard drive is not an easy task, because the system does not recognize SATA drivers at startup. Windows XP Pro SP2 fares a little better with SATA drivers, but here is what can be done in cases where the driver is not recognized.

Check out the make/model of motherboard

Above all, it is necessary to get the latest stable Serial ATA drivers for your motherboard. To do this, it is essential to know the exact model of motherboard. If you still have the manuals, you can refer to it in order to identify the make and model of the motherboard.
Visit the official website of the manufacturer and download the drivers for the Serial-ATA controller of your motherboard and save them to a floppy disk (if you have one!) after unzipping them.

Installing Windows

Two scenarios are possible:

You have a floppy drive

After setting the BIOS to boot on the CD-ROM or DVD-ROM, insert the Windows installation CD and follow the steps to install Windows XP. When Windows prompts you (shown at the bottom of screen), press the F6 key to install the third party drivers for the Serial ATA hard drive

You do not have a floppy drive

In this case, you need to unzip the drivers for the SATA controller and use the nLite software to integrate them on the Windows XP installation CD. This way, XP will be able to recognize your SATA drive.


If you can not find the proper SATA drivers, or the above tips do not work for you, a final solution is to disable the SATA mode from the BIOS, but this can decrease the performance of your hard drive.
  • Access the BIOS setup.
  • Navigate the BIOS and look for the option to disable SATA.
  • Save the BIOS option, and restart the installation of Windows XP.
  • If you can not find this option, a BIOS upgrade may solve your issue
  • Important: If you want to install XP in dual boot with Vista, disabling the SATA controller can sometimes cause a malfunction on Vista. It is advisable to check if Vista is still functional before starting the installation of XP.

Jean-François Pillou

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