I have an old PIII/550 that my kids use. It's overdue for a cleanup due to all their junk. I'm not having boot difficulties, just really need to speed things up with a fresh install of XP Pro.

It's been a long time, however, and I guess I didn't take good notes last time around as for the life of me I cannot get it to boot from CD.

- BIOS boot sequence: CD, C, A (also tried SCSI, C, A -- more on that later)

- Sony CD-R on primary IDE.

- Plextor CD-RW on an Adaptec SCSI controller.

- I have 2 HDDs on a Promise controller.

- Pulled the jammed floppy drive out a while ago so can't go the boot-from-A route.

No matter what I do I cannot seem to get the "Press any key to boot from CD..." message. It seeks the CD-R briefly upon start up but continues right on through to boot from C.

Tried to boot from the SCSI Plextor -- I get the "Bootable CD detected" message, but still it boots to XP on the HDD. I'm not fully up to speed on the SCSI BIOS utility so I could be missing something there, but at least it acknowledged the bootable disk and loaded the SCSI BIOS. From there, however, it went right on to XP on the HDD.

I've got SP2 installed so when I try to run setup from within XP it tells me my current install is newer and doesn't let me continue.

Any thoughts? The box is so old and really kind of limps along on XP Pro that I can't see investing a single dime, nor much more time, into this. But I already deactivated their iTunes, burned a good back-up and am all ready to roll on a fresh install so I thought I'd check with some experts before tossing it.

Thanks for any tips,

Why can't you boot to the CD-R drive on the IDE channel?

From what you say you can boot from the SCSI cd (because it says bootable cd detected however I think the only function of that cd is to install your scsi controller drivers) but you can't boot from the xp one. That mean that your XP disk is not bootable.

You could format reinstall by doing the following:
1. Create a bootable windows 98 floppy using:
2. Boot from that floppy.
3. Type fdisk and proceed by deleting the non-dos partition
4. Reboot from the floppy with cd-rom support. Put the XP cd in your drive.
5. Type d:
6. Type cd i386
7. Type smartdrv
8. Type winnt.exe
9. That should start your XP setup.


1) If I knew why I can't boot from the IDE channel I wouldn't be here. ;)

2) There is no floppy drive otherwise I would have taken that route. A disk got totally jammed in it several months ago and the drive was destroyed in the process. Never need a floppy anymore (well, almost never <g>) so I never bothered replacing it. I suppose I could pull a FDD from one of the graveyard machines at work and try that, but is it worth my time.

3) I tried another [allegedly] bootable WinXP CD from work and still can't get the "Press any key to boot from CD..." message on either the IDE or SCSI channel.

4) Took my non-booting home WinXP CD to work and it is indeed bootable on another machine.

Only conclusion I can draw is there is definitely a hardware issue of some sort. I could strip out all the extraneous hardware and go back to square one with an old HDD but really, I don't know that it's worth it. I built this box in '98 and while I'm happy we got more than our money's worth out of it, I do believe it's finally at the end of its useful life. The front fan is rattling noisily, too, and sounds like it's about to go.

Just thought I'd check to make sure there was nothing obvious I'd missed. Thanks for the help.

If nothing else, googling this problem led me to this site and several of the forums here will probably prove very helpful in the future. Great job, Dani!