Replacing Windows XP Files with the EXPAND Command

Given the explosive growth or viruses and other malicious email attachments, it’s no surprise that critical XP system files will occasionally become damaged corrupted. Certainly these issues aren’t the only cause of file issues, but if your system fails to boot or is displaying error messages relating to a certain file, it may be time to replace it with the original version from your Windows XP CD. When stored on the CD, these files are compressed, with a filename ending in an underscore “_” character. To replace an installed version of the file with one from CD, use the EXPAND utility. For example, to replace a file from CD such as the Windows Task Manager utility, the command would be EXPAND d:\i386\taskmgr.ex_ c:\Windows\system32

Note: When using the EXPAND command to replace files, be sure that the source files on the CD are of the same version as those currently installed. In other words, to replace a file on a Windows XP system with SP2 installed, be sure to use a Windows XP with SP2 source CD.

Author: Dan DiNicolo

Dan DiNicolo is a freelance author, consultant, trainer, and the managing editor of He is the author of the CCNA Study Guide found on this site, as well as many books including the PC Magazine titles Windows XP Security Solutions and Windows Vista Security Solutions. Click here to contact Dan.