Saturday, January 16, 2010

How to make a USB flash drive installer for Windows-based netbooks

Issue: Laptop bootup error message: BOOTMGR is compressed Press Ctrl + Alt + Del to restart.
Cause: Ticking the "Compress drive to disk space" option in hard drive where the operating system is stored
Operating System: Windows XP and Vista
Challenge: Laptop without optical hard drive

Symptom: The computer would only turn on and it would give an error "BOOTMGR is compressed Press Ctrl + Alt + Del to restart." After that, nothing happens.

Resolution: Disable / Untick the "Compress drive to disk space" option in hard drive where the operating system is stored

Required Resources:
  • Windows Installer CD
  • USB Flash Disk (If computer with issue has no optical drive)
  • NoviCorps WinToFlash (downloadable here)
  • Extra laptop with optical drive (If computer with issue has no optical drive)
  • Laptop / computer with issue has USB drive

  1. If laptop (or netbook) has no optical disc drive, create a Windows installer USB flash disk.
  2. Boot from Windows Installation Disc to untick the compression option.
  3. Disable the "Compress drive to disk space" option in hard drive where the operating system is stored
Creating a Windows XP Installation USB Flash Disk
  1. If the computer in question does not have an optical drive, you have to create a Windows XP installation flash disk from a Windows XP installation CD. To do so, download the WinToFlash software here.
  2. The creation of the installation flash disk is fairly straightforward. Prepare your flash drive. Run WinToFlash.exe and choose the wizard.
  3. Windows files path would be your Windows CD and USB drive is your flash disk. Next window will be copying the setup files to your flash drive. In took about 30-45 minutes using a 2 GB flash drive (I believe this result may vary depending on the speed of your source and your USB drive).
Booting up from the Windows XP Installation Flash Disk
  1. With the computer with the problem turned off, insert the installation flash disk. If the computer has an optical flash drive, you may put in the Windows XP Installation Disk if the computer is on, then reboot. Turn on the computer to enter BIOS (This varies depending on the computer. This may be F9, F12, F2 or DEL.).
  2. Set up the BIOS to boot up first from the drive where you have the installation disk (optical or USB flash). Save the settings and Exit.
  3. Upon press the key to choose Boot Device, and select the appropriate drive from the list.
  4. This window will appear. Select 2nd, GUI mode setup. This should allow you to boot using the files in the flash disk but with the settings of your computer's Windows XP.
Disabling the "Compress drive to disk space" option
  1. With the Windows operating system running, go to the drive (not the folder) where you have your Windows operating system files stored. This is usually C:
  2. Right-click the drive and then select Properties.
  3. Untick the "Compress drive to disk space" option and click "Apply." This will attempt to uncompress the drive, and this may say some error messages, such as "unable to." Just select "Ignore All." (In my case, I just let it attempt to uncompress for a minute, after I saw the BOOTMGR file being uncompressed. After that, I discontinued by clicking "Cancel." You may continue the whole process of uncompressing if you have the time.)
  4. Click OK.
  5. Shut down the computer.
  6. Remove the Windows Installation flash disk.
  7. Restart the computer to see if you can log on.
It should start with your normal login window.

If this does not work, try the HP resolution for the same error message here.

Lessons learned:
  1. Do not tick the "Compress drive to disk space" option.
  2. How to repair BOOTMGR is compressed Press Ctrl + Alt + Del to restart here.
  3. How to create USB installer from Windows CD here.
How to Install Windows XP using a USB Drive / Flash Drive the EASIEST way,, accessed January 20, 2010.
NoviCorp WintoFlash.Exe. accessed January 20, 2010.
BOOTMGR Error Message., accessed January 20, 2010