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Format partitioned hard disk, install W98SE

By pmfturner ·
I have a friend?s PC on which is currently installed Windows 98, PII 440 chipset. I wish to format the hard drive and install Windows 98SE. However, I have the following issues :-

1. The hard disk appears to be partitioned into C and D drives (the CD drive is disk E). How do I eliminate this partitioning ?
2. The PC will not boot from the A (floppy) drive, and therefore I cannot start the PC with my boot disk.
3. Entering, at the C: prompt format c: /u /s does nothing ! What should I be keying in here to format the disk(s) once I do manage to boot from the boot disk ?

Many thanks

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by willcomp In reply to Format partitioned hard d ...

Check boot sequence in BIOS. You can boot from Win 98 CD if CD-ROM is selected prior to hard disk.

Once you can boot from Win98 CD, select "Start my Computer with CD ROM Support" as boot option.

Run fdisk and remove partitions on hard disk. You will have to repeat bootup and run fdisk for each partition.

Once partitions are removed, boot from CD and allow Win98 SE to auto install from CD. It should create a single partition by default if large disk support is selected when fdisk is run during setup.


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by willcomp In reply to

A bootup floppy is not needed if you can boot from Win98SE CD. I haven't used a floppy disk to install Win98, Win98SE, or WinMe in years.

I usually agree with Chas, but he and I differ on multiple partitions. They are only for experienced users with some degree of discipline. I believe the average user is better served with a single partition. From what I've seen, the C drive fills up and the other logical drives are empty save for swap file.

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by willcomp In reply to

I do copy cab files from Win9X CDs to a Cabs folder on hard disk. As Chas said, makes installing drivers and options much simpler.

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by TheChas In reply to Format partitioned hard d ...

Why does the PC not boot from a floppy?

Is the floppy drive bad?

Or, do you need to enter BIOS setup and make the floppy drive first on the boot sequence?

As to having 2 partitions on the hard drive, there are a number of good reasons to do this.
One is that W98 can have problems with partitions larger than 32GB.

Read this article on partition planning for more information:

I always set up PCs with a second partition.
Depending on the PC, I copy device drivers, the Windows CD, and critical updates to the second partition.

I install Windows from the hard drive. This way, you NEVER need to insert the Windows CD when installing drivers.

After the installation is complete, I defrag the drive, and move the page file (virtual memory) there. This way, the page file and system files do not get fragmented.

On my personal PCs, I set up a separate partition / hard drive for different types of applications / files.

To back up our personal files, I need only back up the F: drive.
To back up downloads, the I: drive

Anyhow, since you are starting over from scratch, you need a W98 startup floppy.

Boot from the floppy and run the command
fdisk /mbr
at the DOS prompt.
Then run fdisk
Answer yes to support large hard drives.
To change the drive from 2 partitions to 1 partition, start by deleting the logical drive in the extended DOS partition.
Then, delete the extended DOS partition.
Finally, delete the primary DOS partition.

Exit fdisk and reboot the PC.

Run fdisk again and create an active primary DOS partition that is the entire drive.

Exit fdisk and reboot again.

At the DOS prompt, run the command
format C: /u/s

You can also do the same by installing the drive as a slave in another PC.
Just make sure that you are on the correct drive when executing the commands.

For more on fdisk, check out the links at


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by zlitocook In reply to Format partitioned hard d ...

As most pc's boot up you will see a line that says hit F8, HIT DEL, or some other message that tells you how to get into the bios. A few computers like Emachines, Dell or IBM have a no show way to get into the bios, you will have to go to thier web sites to learn how. After you are in the bios look through it to find the boot sequence. Set it for floppy/cdrom then hard drive. Or set it to default that is what the computer was set to when made. If you have a problem removing the partitions with a 98 Boot disk down load and save to a bootable disk, delpart. It will remove any partition and let you partition and format any hard drive. I would format with two drives because you can keep on the second drive and use the first drive for your operating system and programs. So if the c: drive becomes unusable you can format it and reinstall. And keep your important files on the d: drive.

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by CourtPCTech In reply to Format partitioned hard d ...

I would agree with most of what's been said before. First, though, you need to know the size of the hard drive. If it's over a 30 Gb, you will need two partitions for W98 to see the whole drive. The only problem with that is that most users aren't very adept at using two drives (which, as you have noticed, is how it appears in Windows Explorer). That leaves the second partition as fair game for the W98SE installation files, critical updates, drivers, and other such potentially critical files. If the drive is 30 Gb or smaller, go ahead and partition it as a single can do this by booting from an original W98SE CD. Be aware that many bootleg copies of the W98 CDs won't boot properly, so you'll want to use an original.

You can boot with that CD to a command prompt where you can run Fdisk and partition as you need to. Delpart is a good utility, and we have used it here on several occasions, should you need to wipe the partition table and start from scratch. Check your boot order to make sure that the machine will boot from the floppy (you may also need to check to see that the floppy controller is actually enabled...some people disable it for security purposes).

Once you've got your partition table squared away you can go ahead and re-boot from the Win98 CD and begin the install. It will format the drive and do whatever else you need, short of copying the .CAB files to a location on the local drive and patching the installation.

Feel free to let me know if you need additional info, and good luck!!

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