How to Boot Toshiba Portege M200 off an SD Memory Card

A long while ago I became the proud owner of one o the best Tablet PCs on the market, the Toshiba Portege M200. Problem is that if something goes awry on the internal hard disk, then you’re in trouble because the M200 is notoriously difficult to boot on external media. This was something I needed to do after trying out Windows 7 on it (which worked extremely well by the way) – but it came at a cost too high – missing features and tools and drivers that the default factory install has.

Things are made complex because while it is technically possible to boot off an external CD/DVD ROM, the number of external drive it will actually boot off are very few. Additionally, the BIOS wont boot off USB thumb drives (at all!) and USB hard disks either. There is one saving grace – you can boot off an SD memory card (as long as it *not* SDHC) from the built-in reader. The trouble with THIS is that it will only boot off an SD card if its been formatted and made bootable ‘just right’. Its so finiky that Toshiba have actually created some tools to aide in the process of making them bootable.

So, if you have a standard SD memory card, you can use the Toshiba SD Memory Format Utility and the Toshiba SD Memory Boot Utility to create a bootable image of the restore CDs. Obviously if the default install is bung, then how can you use these tools?

Well the good news is, I’ve got a copy of them from the Toshiba website. I have hosted them here in case they disappear, here is the Toshiba SD Memory Format Utility and here is the Toshiba SD Memory Boot Utility.

What I did to reinstall the factory image on my Portege M200 Tablet PC:

  1. Download the 2 links above and install them.
  2. Run ‘as administrator’ (if on Vista or Windows 7) the format utility and format the SD card.
  3. Run ‘as administrator’ (if on Vista or Windows 7) the boot utility and select the BOOT.IMG file from the /bin folder on the first restore CD. Here is a copy if you don’t have the disks.
  4. Restart the computer pressing F2 at POST and with the SD card in the reader, and use the arrows keys to select the SD/Floppy boot device.  Press [Enter].

When I booted it still gave me the CD ROM selection screen, which I eventually discovered was actually compatible with the External USB DVD ROM I was using (wouldn’t boot off it – but option ‘9’ worked in DOS) – after this, it just started installing the factory image as normal.

Any problems, drop me a line and I will try to help.  I know how frustrating this can be after spending most of the day trying Linux boot disks and direct copying boot sectors etc.  Ahh! but finally success!


34 thoughts on “How to Boot Toshiba Portege M200 off an SD Memory Card

  1. Hi, have tried to follow your tutorial about booting a toshiba portege m200 from an SD card. The problem i have is that the format program does not see the SD card. I am using XP, as Windows 7 says the program is incompatable.
    Any help would be appreciated as I have a dead M200, unless I can sort it out. I also have a linux machine, running Ubuntu 12.04.
    Take care

    • I think there is a issue with that, but (and you’ll forgive my memory from being vague) you can tell Windows 7 to run the program anyway. Alternatively, you could try running the app using Windows’ compatability mode. Other than that, I didnt have this problem (or at least, dont remember having it).

      • hello Ash and anyone else who reads older hardware tips: lol

        so Jamie here. an old techie throwback from the days of DOS 4. it is now 2020 and we are venturing (shall i day teetering in and out of Covid 19 pandemic phase 3, no 2, no 3- agggh

        so while everyone is bored of boredom filling tasks, a buddy gifted me the Toshiba protege m200, mentioned in this article.
        Yes i just received it October 1st and thought to give it a go.

        i searched registration and low and behold im the owner of a model purchased in Britain, UK . it cant be registered till i show proof of purchase – so i moved on and found this. i have downloaded all 3 files: formatted out a 2gb micro sd card and the Toshiba is stuck on safe mode menu selection after POST startup.

        i have modified as much as i can and cant get Toshiba to respond to the sd card. i am assuming the Toshiba disk that is downloaded is 1.4mb?

        will the Toshiba BIOS permit a 2gb anything?? anybody know? im thinking of swapping out the 60gb hdd for a preformatted 250gb with a variety of OS’s from XP sp3 to windows 8 barebones. might even drop Linux or ubuntu or geoworks on it before swapping hdd.

        anyone out the have commentary? suggestions? tips? gotta be someone bored as me,..

        thanks Ash for the article and tips. a pre thank you to anyone who responds – y’all stay safe

        kind regards
        jaimie o vancouver bc
        october 2020

    • Hi there – we have the same problem as Roger, and have tried all the compatibility modes under XP with no success. Roger, did you get anywhere?

      Thank you!

  2. Hi,

    Thanks for this information. Would this work with a Windows 7 DVD image or do I have to use toshiba disks? I am waiting for my m200 to arrive but it will be coming with no hard drive so I am starting with a blank slate (pun intended).


    • I guess it should work, but I used the old Toshiba Disks, simply because I think that the M200 simply isn’t up to the task of running Windows 7 – probably due to insufficient CPU power. Also, many of the “Tablet” feature drivers and apps do not (and newer will) work with Windows 7.

  3. hey I have a problem, achieve up the menu to the SD bootable but I can not access!, I could access from CD, no USB and SD not, please help that you recommend I do?

    • Im sorry I do not understand your problem. If you could give me more information (or more clearly explain it) I will try to help you if I can.

  4. I know you did this a year ago, but don’t suppose you know why neither of the Toshiba programs show up any drives?

    I was so hopeful upon finding this page, only to have them dashed at the last minute 🙁

    • I can only suggest perhaps that you might need the drivers for the SD card. I found that I too had trouble trying to get the SD card working properly to do the install but I cannot remember *exactly* what I did to get it working.

      Perhaps you could try putting the SD card into another machine and running the boot utility on that, since you only need the boot media on the SD card. Once you can get the SD card bootable everything should fall into place (its very probable that this is what I did).

      Sorry I couldn’t be more specific. And good luck.

  5. when copy the image to SD make sure you RENAMED the file
    from “BOOTCD.IMG” to “$tosfd00.vfd”

    • Thanks, that was the missing link in the chain…after 5 days of struggling I got it running in 5 minutes after that, anybody else struggling just drop me an email, while the whole procedure is still fresh in my mind 🙂
      – Sean

  6. Yeah, having the same problems in terms of not seeing the SD card on my win 7.

    I’ve got an old m200 lying about that I love to much to get rid of but it just wont boot, hangs on windows.
    I’ve tried running both programs in all of the compatibility modes. 🙁

    • Im sorry your having troubles, and believe me, don’t think that it’s necessarily going to be “quick and easy”. I too had troubles, but I just kept at it until it eventually gave in.

      I know this doesn’t give you a LOT of guidance and others have experienced this also. Basically the crunch is that it’s most likely a driver incompatibility between the SD Card Hardware and Windows 7 (and I cant remember my solution but I am very certain I had this problem too).

      I would suggest you perhaps try a USB external SD Card reader to create the image. when it comes to the BIOS boot up, the built-in SD card reader should be fine (and I dare say preferred) – perhaps this might resolve this particular issue. In my case it wasn’t necessary (I am fairly sure I just kept trying “random” drivers until I found one that worked – or I simply got lucky – I cant quite remember) but I suggest that it might be an acceptable work around.

      • Before I even get into trying this, what is the max size SD card that can be used?
        I have a Portage M200 w/ only 500 MB ram, is that enough to run Win7 on this machine? Win7 Pro? What are my ram upgrade possibilities?
        Thanks a bunch

        • No offense, but I find it highly unlikely that you only have 500MB or RAM unless its a really old Portege (not the tablet variety). I am pretty sure these guys came out of the factory with 1024MB RAM by default (I could be wrong).

          In either case, I think you misinterpreted my post. I had Windows 7 on it, but it just isn’t good. Besides the fact that everything is a bit sluggish most of the features of the tablet are lost. If you’ve still got Windows XP Tablet Edition on it, I’d let sleeping dogs lie.

          • Ash, Thanks. You are right, I did misinterpret. I thought that Win7 actually included the Tablet features or that they could be downloaded.
            And it may have 1G as well, but what is the max you can put in it? 2G? Does it boot up better from the SD card, even with XP Tablet Edition? For some reason, it won’t let me install XP TE SP3???

  7. hey so I have it installed and everything and it works, but how do boot, which selection? can I boot from the sd card? or do I need an external cd drive?

    • You will need a compatible USB DVD-ROM to boot up – but be careful, VERY few external DVDs are compatible boot up devices. So buyers, beware!

      • Hi, I have the Portege M200 running XP SP3. While twiddling around with it and running virus scans etc. I thought it would be interesting to set a password for the Administrator account and to reserve access to all files and folders to the Administrator. I carefully noted the password. Around 20 minutes later I was running a GMER scan when the system crashed with a blue screen. On reboot it went through check disk on startup, repairing sectors etc. After that it booted up normally and requested the password. However the password does not work. I tried entering from the keyboard and also from the osk but it just doesn’t work. I bought a password recovery cd only to discover that my PCMCIA external PC drive does not appear on the (astonishingly short) list of approved external CD drives. Can I use the format utility you provided to boot from an SD card? Could I put a disk image of the recovery CD onto the SD card and have it boot from that?

  8. You still have this machine? i like to know if by chance if your not using it anymore to re do the install on it. can leave it unactivated and i can use my windows xp tablet key. and clone the hard drive to a image. Then i can clone it onto my hard drive? I dun have any non HC SD cards laying around or external disc roms to hook up to it. all i got is a PXE Server that dont wanna work.

  9. hi, i am trying to load win xp pro on my portege r200, i only have a floppy drive to pcima converter, and one usb stick and a sd card with windows xp on it, how do i install xp without a cd to usb converter, ,,,,can i install with a floppy and a sd card only, thanks and regards richard.

    • Had the same issue with Win7 and TOSHIBA SD Boot/Format util not seeing the device. I was running the utility from a separate host machine, trying to format the card in an external usb card reader. No go. I ended up using a CF card, formatting that, making it bootable, and dropping my files there. Then using a PCMCIA CF Card reader, booted my Tosh M200 off the PCMCIA. This worked. I don’t know what the card restrictions are if any, I was using a 512MB CF Card. Might be able to use a larger card to install Win7. This was easier then trying to get SD card to boot.

  10. My SD card reader was not recognized in windows 7 either. Fortunately, Fortunately, my M200 still boots to windows and the SD card is recognized on it. The think SD card has to be 1GB or less. I tried to partition a 2GB card to 1GB and that didn’t work. The install ran completely, but windows won’t boot becuase it says the install was incomplete (blue screen). Maybe my recovery CD is corrupt.

  11. Hi I appreciate your time and effort! This is very helpful but I could be the dumbest person that ever lived when dealing with computers. I took my Toshiba Portege M200 to many people to get it fixed but no one even tries to fix it. So I decided to get it fixed myself. I have no discs for the computer at all but I do have a formatted SD card its only 128mb, not much but should get the job done from what I understood.
    THE PROBLEM: When I power on the tablet PC it shows a black screen saying ” Windows could not start because of a computer disk hardware configuration problem. Could not read from the selected boot disk. Check boot path and disk hardware.”
    1) Is this just a problem that would be solved by booting or formatting?
    2) IF it is, do I install the format utility and boot utility on the same SD card from my other laptop?
    3) Do I unzip both utilities on my other laptop then copy them to the SD card that will be used for this process or do I simply copy the folders unzipped to the SD card?

    I apologize about the big dummy questions and for the newspaper article that I just wrote but any help would be highly appreciated. Thank you much

  12. If your sdcard isnt detecting in the Toshiba format or boot programs you downloaded on this site but you know the drive letter as windows has detected it then you can open a command prompt by pressing ‘Windows key – R’ type ‘command’ press enter change to the directory with the executable files ‘cd \program files\toshiba\insertwhichprogram’ then ‘program.exe e:’ (the executable file name.exe spacebar the drive letter windows detected the drive as) it will start the program in windows with your drive selection filled in. I think network boot might be what I reluctantly use to repair this old laptop, I’ve not needed to attempt that option in the past but this laptop even uses its own hdd connections and usb cdrom doesnt detect and I dont have a pcmcia cdrom. Good luck with your projects people.

  13. Thanks for the long-lost Toshiba SD files. So many places point you to MITM-compromised web sites these days….
    If you need to find an external optical that works with this beast – The Samsung SE-S084 external DVD writer works (I own it – cute little blue thing) -caveat- I highly recommend using the cable that comes with it. This is a dual male to mini-male affair intended to scarf as much power of the motherboard’s ports it can…and I’m not a big fan of stuff like that. Use an external USB hub that has it’s own power supply (wall wart). Plug the thinnest cable male into the hub (only has two wires internally to get power) and the thick one into the M200 (all 4 lines). The mini plug goes into the back of the drive. The M200 is *much* happier booting this way.
    Also, when hitting the arrow keys @ boot to select the source, tap it once to the right to select the optical drive and wait a sec or two to make sure the external drive’s controller has a chance to tell the M200 it’s got bootable stuff – then off you go.


    • edit – if you wish to venture off of XP; this machine absolutely smokes on linux (SLAX, Puppy linux (non-pae TAHRpup)) and about the same speed as XP with Debian. Choose a light desktop manager though, I use XFCE.

  14. You can also use external DVD LG GP57EB40 without docking station (i have got one and its not necessery). It’s possible to use Norton Ghost (dos version) and recovery image with windows XP Tablet Edition. Debian with XFCE on this machine is working fine. Instalation of debian 9 (CD + LAN) takes around 6 hours. It’s not very fast but for mini server and for work its enough. You can use it in your car connected directly to the 12V car lighter.

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