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Getting the right SATA drivers for XP

While new iterations of Microsoft's ubiquitous Windows operating system have come along since, Windows XP remains a popular and stable home computing platform for technologically inclined and everyday computer users alike. However, there are still some issues that have to be dealt with from time to time, one of the most important of which is finding appropriate SATA device drivers for optimal hard drive performance. Although Windows 7 is in all likelihood a great improvement over the much maligned Vista, many still would prefer the comfortable and intuitive XP operating system, due to its great reliability and familiarity.

As you may well know, SATA HDD's are nearly universal today but during the heyday of Windows XP IDE's were far more commonplace. Unless you are installing XP onto an older model with IDE, you'll need new drivers to make XP compatible with a SATA. While not an entirely daunting task, there are a few details that need to be taken into consideration when performing this operation. Finding drivers online for immediate download is not really the difficult part. Any Google search will reveal a wide variety of sources from which to obtain the appropriate software.

For a few years now, chipset makers have included drivers for SATA drives for installing XP, which is relatively straightforward, if one has an old school "floppy disk" drive on their PC. In this case, you simply insert your installation CD into the optical drive, boot from that, and hit F6 when you reach the setup screen. You'll be prompted to insert the SATA driver disk, and follow the instructions that follow. But of course, nobody really has a floppy disk drive on their computers anymore, so we have to work around that problem with a few tricks.

Absent the F6 option, installing XP for a SATA interface hard drive is best done by putting the required SATA drivers on an installation CD before setting it up on your new PC. Here's how to do it. You'll want a blank CD, the original Windows XP installation disk, and a program known as nLite, available at You'll want to get the appropriate SATA driver's from the motherboard manufacturer's website, and save them to the desktop of another computer. Then, burn an ISO file of the original XP CD on there as well. Now that you have the right drivers, as well as the ISO of the XP disk on the other computer's desktop, you can use nLite to insert the drivers into the XP setup package.

Fire up nLite and it will guide you through the process of inserting the driver files into the ISO file. If any of this sounds complicated or scary, it's not. It's really a breeze. When you have the drivers included in the XP setup package, you can burn that ISO onto a blank disk, and it'll be ready for installation on your new SATA HDD computer without any hassle. There's not really a lot that can go wrong with this process. Simply make sure you have the right drivers for the motherboard of the PC you plan on installing XP on, and it should go like clockwork. If you run into any snags, there are plenty of forums online that can assist you with troubleshooting hassles, as many people have successfully used this method before to install Windows XP on new SATA hard drives.