This article is a quick overview of Windows XP Preinstallation Environment used in www.winhelp.us Data Recovery CD/USB.
To set your computer to start from CD or USB, read the Computer boot order article.
After your computer starts from www.winhelp.us Data Recovery CD, press Enter or Space on keyboard within 5 seconds to open Data Recovery CD menu.
USB disk users do not see this dialog.
If you want external drives to be automatically mounted, connect these now.
Make sure Launch "www.winhelp.us Data Recovery CD" is selected in the menu (this is the default item). Press Enter to start the trimmed down version of Windows XP.
USB disk users see different colors, but should select the same item in the menu.
The environment loads with US keyboard layout. If you have some other layout, check for correct keys on the picture below.
First, you will see "Loading www.winhelp.us Data Recovery CD" progress bar. Then Windows XP logo will appear. These steps take time, be patient.
After Windows XP Preinstallation Environment starts, a PreShell dialog appears. Do not click anywhere and do not press any keys. In case the timer in the bottom part stops, click the Start Shell button on the right.
USB disk users might see some "Out of memory" error here. You can safely ignore it by clicking OK, this is a bug.
Some predefined settings will be applied, hold on for a little while more.
Customized Windows XP Desktop appears. On the left, there are icons to most used programs. On the right, there is basic information about your computer and disks.
Quick Launch toolbar has three buttons - Minimize all program windows, Undo minimize all program windows and Task Manager.
Please be aware that you must only click once to open a program.
Disk with drive letter B: and label Temp is a special temporary disk created in the Random Access Memory (RAM) of your computer. This helps to speed up the Windows XP Preinstallation Environment and installed programs.
Disk with drive letter X: and label System Drive is the Data Recovery CD or USB drive you booted the PC from. In case of CD, its free space is always zero.
The disk where Windows XP is installed, has normally drive letter C:. Because Windows Vista, 7 and 8 have a special hidden recovery partition with size from 100 MB to 350 MB, it often has drive letter C: assigned to it. In this case, Windows Vista, 7 or 8 partition has drive letter D:.
In the example above, drive C: is where Windows XP is.
In case you have encrypted Windows disk with TrueCrypt, you should decrypt it before using Data Recovery CD - otherwise the disk will not be detected or will be unusable.
The Windows XP Preinstallation Environment starts at measly 800x600 resolution. If your monitor and graphics adapter support higher resolutions, click to open Start menu. Then open System, Display Resolution and select an appropriate one from the list.
The changes take effect at once, so please do not select an unsupported resolution here!
There is no automatic detection of USB devices after Windows XP PE has started. In case you connect your external hard drive or USB flash drive later, you must relaunch the detection of USB devices.
To do this, open Start menu, click System, HWPnP and Install USB devices.
In case of troubled detection, you can also use Force install devices.
A window appears, wait for it to disappear.
After successful detection, your USB drives should be visible in My Computer. Please note that the system information on Desktop will not be updated.
In case your disk is still not visible, there is a fair chance that it is an NTFS drive and drive letter cannot be automatically assigned to it. Right-click My Computer on Desktop and select Disk Management.
As you see from Volume list, a disk labelled "Elements" is connected, but has no drive letter assigned.
Find the drive from the bottom and right-click it. Select Change Drive Letter and Paths.
In the Change Drive Letter and Paths window, click Add.
The Add Drive Letter or Path window automatically suggests first available drive letter. Click OK.
Now your external disk should be accessible via My Computer. Close Disk Management.