Partitioning, Formatting and Reinstalling in Windows 98

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Formatting and reinstalling windows 98 is very easy if you have the right know-how.

This article will discuss how to format, partition and reinstall windows 98 on your PC.

Before going ahead and doing this, it is important to be comfortable with the terms format, partition and file systems.

Formatting creates magnetic markers, which define sectors where the data is stored.

Basically you might want to format your hard drive if you are experiencing constant problems with your operating system. Another reason could be to clean out the registry, which gets clogged up over time by installing programs (and spy ware and third party software which get installed without your knowledge).

It's also a good idea to format your hard drive if you are upgrading to a new operating system.

Partitioning is the process of dividing the space available on the hard disk into blocks.
One reason for partitioning is that it helps in organising the data.

I.e. lets say you have an 80 GB hard disk drive. You can partition it to organize data into various categories like a drive for your Windows and system files and for your personal work. You can then have another separate drive for storing the rest of your programs.

You can even have one more for storing all your multimedia files, and maybe even one for storing backups of all your important files.

Before going ahead and partitioning a drive it is important to understand how partitions actually work.

There are two kinds of partitions: primary DOS and extended DOS, and you can create logical DOS partitions within the extended partitions.

The primary partition is your active partition and this is from where your computer boots, sort of like a system partition.

The extended partition is a placeholder where you can create all the other logical partitions.

File System is basically the way that files are stored on your computer. Windows 98 supports two kinds of file systems: File Allocation Table 16 (FAT 16) and file Allocation Table (FAT 32).

FAT 16 can support a drive of maximum 2 GB in size. For example, if you have an 8 GB hard disk, then you can have 4 drives of 2 GB each.

FAT 32 on the other hand can support a drive of up to 2 Terabytes in size.

Before actually going ahead and doing the reinstall it is advisable to back up any and all of your data and device drivers as a format will wipe out all your data on the drive.

There are two ways of backing up your data and device drivers:

* Save them in a storage media like floppy drivers, CD's, zip disks etc.

* If you have a partitioned hard disk and you do not plan to format a particular drive then back up all your data there.

After performing your backups it's time to get down to formatting and partitioning (if you want to do that as well) your hard drive.

First you need to decide on a few things:

* Do you wish to partition you hard drive or change the way it is partitioned currently?
* The file system you want to use. Windows 98 support two file systems FAT 16 and FAT 32.

To format your PC and reinstall windows 98 you need to do the following:

1. Make sure that you have the start up disk that came along with your operating system CD. You can also make a start up disk by going to the Control Panel Add/Remove Programs Create Start up Disk, click on the button and insert a floppy in your floppy drive.
2. Eject the floppy disk after the start up disk has been created.
3. Turn off your computer.
4. Insert the start up disk in your floppy drive.
5. Restart your computer.
6. Instead of booting from the hard disk, your computer will now boot from the floppy and a menu will appear.
7. From the menu select "Start without CD-ROM support."
8. After the files are loaded and you are returned to the prompt "A:/" type FDISK
9. The FDISK tool is loaded and allows you to delete the existing DOS partition.
10. Choose the file system you want to use.
11. Delete the existing DOS partition by following the prompts on screen. (Option 3))
12. After you have deleted the partition press the 'Esc' key to return to the main menu.
13. Now you need to create a new DOS partition.
14. Type in FDISK again and go through the various steps to create a new DOS primary partition (Option 1)). Assign it all the space available (100%).
15. Exit FDISK and reboot system.
16. Now you need to format your drive, so type in FORMAT Driveletter: (where Driveletter is the letter of your hard disk, C: by default)
17. After the format switch over to your CD ROM, by typing in the drive letter for the CD ROM drive (D: by default) and type in setup.exe to begin the installation of windows 98.

Creating extended and logical DOS partitions

Follow steps 1 to 14

Now in order to create other extended and logical DOS partitions make sure that you have not assigned all the space to the primary partition. Decide beforehand how much space you want to allocate to the primary partition.

14.1.Instead of exiting FDISK, re enter the FDISK options menu and select the option to create Extended DOS partition (Option 1)) and assign it the rest of the space that is still unallocated and follow the various prompts on screen to create the extended partition.
14.2 Again re enter the FDISK menu. This time select the option to create logical DOS partitions and assign space to it.
14.3 Follow the above step in order to create more logical drives.

Follow step 15 and 16
16.1 Format all your other drives by using the format command i.e. FORMAT Driveletter:

Follow step 17 in order to in install windows 98.

Deleting existing extended partitions and creating new ones

If you are not happy with the way your hard disk is currently partitioned you can also delete the existing partitions and create new ones.

Follow steps 1 to 11

11.1 Instead of exiting, re enter the menu and delete the rest of the partitions (Option 3).

Follow steps 12 to 17

About the Author

Ashish Jain


Aaron 27.04.2009. 09:51

Reinstalled windows xp and now have two versions on one laptop? I reinstalled windows recently and thought I'd managed to do it until I noticed the space wasn't freed up on my laptop. I worked out this was because I managed to install a new windows while still having my old one too. I need to unistall the old one and don't know how to do it. I've heard going to add/remove programs can do it, not sure though, any suggestions?


Admin 27.04.2009. 09:51

Sorry about this my cutting and pasting is getting screwed up.

Try Again:

There are two methods of resolving this problem and freeing up the hard drive space taken up by the unused installation, but they depend on your level of expertise, the time you have and whether you have a retail version of Windows XP.
If you have a copy of your Windows XP CD, use either of the two methods listed below.
If you do not have a copy of your Windows XP CD, use the "Fast but Awkward" method
Print these instructions out before attempting either method. Read and understand each point before any attempt is made at correcting your problem.

Easy, but Time-Consuming Method
(The "Fast but Awkward Method" is shown below)

The instructions for this method assume that you have a retail copy of XP on CD.

1. Start Windows and choose the installation that is currently working from the Boot Menu and continue into Windows.

2. IMPORTANT: Backup up all your documents because the next steps will completely erase your hard drive, so all data will be lost forever unless you back it up first.

3. Now put your Windows XP CD in the drive and restart the computer.4. You'll see a "Welcome to Setup" page, press ENTER to continue. Then press F8 to accept the Windows XP Licensing Agreement. If an existing Windows XP installation is detected, you are prompted to repair it. Press ESC (DO NOT REPAIR).

5. Now select a partition with Windows installed and press D to delete an existing partition. You must then press L (or press ENTER, and then press L if it is the System partition) to confirm that you want to delete the partition. Repeat this process for each of the existing partitions. When all the partitions are deleted, you can then select the resulting un-partitioned space and then press C to create the new partition.

6. Type the size (in megabytes, or MB) that you want to use for the new partition, and then press ENTER, or just press ENTER to create the partition using the maximum size.

7. Create additional partitions if you want to (if you created two more partitions they will become drive D and E in the new Windows installation but they will be empty).8. Use the arrow keys to select the partition you want to install Windows XP on, and then press ENTER.

9. Select the format option that you want to use for the partition, and then press ENTER, i.e. FAT32 or NTFS and continue with the installation. FAT32 is an old file system that came before XP. NTFS is a file system left over from Windows 2000. If you're unsure use NTFS. Windows XP will install on the partition and then you'll be prompted to restart.
Note: If you have an Upgrade version of XP, you will be prompted for qualifying media during the installation process. This means that you will have to insert a CD-ROM with a previous version of Windows on it, i.e. Windows 2000, Windows ME, Windows 98 etc. (Windows setup needs to confirm that you own a previous version of Windows in order for you to qualify for the upgrade.) If you do have a CD-ROM with a previous version of Windows then install that first on the new partition (and use FAT32) .

10. After a reboot all should be well!

Fast but Awkward Method
Here's a quick way to replace two copies of Windows XP from your system with one working copy. It may look like a lot of steps, but they are very quick.

1.Start Windows and choose the installation that is currently working from the Boot Menu and continue into Windows.

2. IMPORTANT: Backup up all your documents because the next steps will completely erase your hard drive, so all data will be lost forever unless you back it up first.

3. If you cannot access the files from your previous installation of XP you must take ownership of those files first, then back them up:
4. Open Windows Explorer, click My Computer, and click on the Tools menu, then Folder Options, then the View tab.
5. Under ?Hidden files and folders?, chose to Show them. Uncheck the box next to ?Hide protected operating system files?, and click Yes to confirm, then OK to exit.

6. Browse the root directory of your C: drive, and make a copy of the boot.ini file in the same area as a backup security. Next, open the original boot.ini file with Notepad.

7. Look for the [operating systems] section. This is the area shown on the Boot Menu and will probably show at least two lines, each reflecting a different installation of Windows XP. It should look similar to this:

multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /fastdetect

multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(3)\WINDOWS2="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /fastdetect

Note: If you have XP Home, it will indicate ?Microsoft XP Home? above instead. This does not affect any of the subsequent steps.

8. In order to tell the two installations apart, we need to modify the portion in quotes, which is the description you see on boot-up. For example, you might change them to:

multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional X" /fastdetect

multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(3)\WINDOWS2="Microsoft Windows XP Professional Y" /fastdetect

Note the ?X? and ?Y? we?ve added to tell them apart in the boot menu. You can use anything you want in the quotes.

9. Save your changes to the boot.ini and restart your machine. Make a note of which installation of XP you want to keep. In our example, we want to keep the installation ?Y? since that?s the one that is working correctly.

10. When the computer reboots, click on Start, then click Run, type in ?msconfig?, and click OK. Select the BOOT.INI tab, and note the [operating systems] section again. Select the ?good? installation, and click the ?Set as Default? button and click OK.

11. Head back to the boot.ini on your C: drive, and edit it again with Notepad. Under [operating systems], delete the line that will no longer be used, leaving only the line reflecting your ?good? installation of Windows. Make note of the backslash and folder name of the ?bad? installation that you are no longer using before you delete this line (you'll need this information later in step 15). Good idea to print a copy of the boot.ini for reference.

12. In the example below, the bad folder name is ?\WINDOWS? since I am now using the installation in the ?\WINDOWS2? folder. Again, look for the folder location immediately after the partition number such as in this example:

multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(3)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional X" /fastdetect

13. Save the changes to your boot.ini file, and restart your computer. You should not be prompted with a boot menu and the correct version of Windows XP should load automatically.

14. IMPORTANT: If you have not yet backed up your documents, do so now! If you make a mistake on the next step, you could lose some of your documents.

15. Recall the folder of the ?bad? or ?old? installation of XP from step 11. This installation is no longer used, and the duplicate Windows files are simply taking up space on your hard drive. Since you are now using a different installation, you are free to delete these files.

16. In step 11, I removed the line that pointed to the ?\WINDOWS? installation location. Note that this may vary for you. At this point, I can delete the ?Windows? folder since I am now using the ?Windows2? folder for Windows XP. This will save a fair amount of hard drive space.
17. Once you've done this, you are done and dusted. Good luck.



morbid_bean 25.07.2007. 07:31

How do you go about wiping out a computer and reinstalling the OS now days? Im just wondring if there is a better and/or more suggested way of wiping out a computer than the way i do it....i have done this for about 3-4 years now and what i start off doing is inserting a Windows 98 Startup disk (floppy) (only way i know how) and then boot without cd rom support....type format c: wait for format to finnish, restart boot again without cd rom support, type Fdisk, remove partition, create a new one, restart boot without cd rom support, do another format c:...after it finishes i then remove the windows 98 startup disk(floppy) and insert a windows xp Pro cd.....restart, boot from cd and then follow on screen directions....just wondering if there is a newer (sure there is) or more recomended way of doing this.


Admin 25.07.2007. 07:31

The newer versions of Windows such as XP and Vista can format your hard drive for you, so you don't have to do it before, but either way you end up doing it.


bolinlamar 02.07.2006. 13:34

What is the proper way to format a new or used hard drive that has been wiped clean.? I've tried to format this hard drive but it won't format and I get the message wrong version of windows. What do I need to do to get it formatted so I can load Windows 98 , then upgrade it to Windows XP PRo.


Admin 02.07.2006. 13:34

You need to format and make the format work before you can install Windows 98. You need to put the hard drive back into the old computer and format it from there. Then move it back to the new computer and then reinstall Windows 98. Once you install Windows 98 then you can upgrade.

Since you already partitioned your hard drive, you should not have Windows on it anymore so I'm curious as to why it thinks you still have a Windows on it. Go to the MS Command Prompt and try manually formatting it by typing format c:

Then try reinstalling Windows 98. I dont think you can setup with Windows XP since its an upgrade CD. Also make sure your Windows 98 CD is an install CD and not an upgrade too.


Lilaznboi2011 25.06.2006. 21:26

What is the difference between the upgrade and full install of windows? I am thinking about reformatting my laptop and it already has windows xp home edition with sp2 on it and i purchased it in july 2005. I was wondering could i buy the windows xp home edition upgrade to use to reinstall windows because i am reformatting it. or would i need to buy the full version? all i want to do is use the home edition upgrade to reformat the computer and install from scratch.


Admin 25.06.2006. 21:26

nothing as far as features are concerned..

upgrade version assumes you have a license to another windows operating system.. like ME or 2000.

when you attempt to install an upgrade version of windows, it will either scan your computer for a qualifying version of windows to upgrade, or ask you to insert the qualifying version cd into the cd drive. this is just a check to see if you actually do have a previous version.

then it just installs like the full version... though you can actually upgrade an older version, such as going from 98 or ME to XP.

Though you really shouldnt need to purchase yet another license and key to windows.. you bought one with your laptop. if you didnt recieve a reinstall cd with your laptop, check the hard drive. Some manufacturers include the install cd as a special partition on the hard drive itself. I suppose you could potentially copy that to a cd if you wanted to format.

outside of that.. you could find someone with a windows xp home cd and just use your license key when the install asks for it.

I know on my laptop the key is on the bottom of the laptop itself... if you do not have this printed, make sure you find this information and copy it before you format..


penguin 05.05.2008. 16:16

How to install tinyxp on a computer that has win98? I am wishing to install tiny xp on my computer. I am currently running windows 98SE. I want step by step instructions since I am not that good with programs. I also have not found a place to download it yet. All the ones I have found were dead links.

I am also wanting the computer start up with windows 98 and have me open tiny xp when I wish to.


Admin 05.05.2008. 16:16

It is not a good idea to install XP on the same partition with another operating system. A second empty partition should be created first. Although partitioning can be done from the XP disk using the modern version of Fdisk, everything on existing partitions will be destroyed. Unless you are going to completely reinstall your older operating system you will need something like Partition Magic. If using Partition Magic, create a data partition and do not use the option ?this partition will contain an operating system? unless you plan to use a boot manager other than the one that comes with XP and you want to hide the two operating systems from each other. Hiding one operating system from the other was necessary when dual-booting Windows 95 with 98 or dual-booting Windows 98 with Me. It is not necessary with XP and my personal preference is to be able to see the entire system from each operating system. Windows XP can also be hidden from the Windows 98 system by formatting the XP partition with NTFS. Windows 98/Me must have a FAT partition. More advanced users may prefer this setup. Any FAT32 partition will be visible to Windows XP but Windows 98/Me cannot read NTFS volumes.

The older operating system must be already installed before starting the XP installation. Installation is very easy with only one thing that has to be carefully watched. Do NOT use the default choice of an upgrade installation. Ignore the message that this is ?recommended?. That choice will over-write the older existing Windows operating system. Choose ?New installation, advanced.? The installation will then go in automatically onto the empty partition. If you have more than two partitions, there is an Advanced setting that will allow you to pick which partition you want XP to be on.

After XP is installed, a boot menu will appear whenever the computer is first turned on. By default Windows XP will be at the top and will be the operating system that boots unless Windows 98/Me (called Windows on the menu) is highlighted by using the down arrow key. The default setting has a 30 second delay period in which to make a choice. Both the order of operating systems in the boot menu and the delay time are controlled in a hidden file boot.ini that is located in the root of the C: drive. It is a text file and can be edited with a text editor (after removing the attributes) but it is a better idea to do any editing from Windows XP. One way to adjust settings is to go to Control Panel-System-Advanced-Startup and Recovery- Default Operating System

One final point is that the early stages of booting XP actually involve the C: drive even when most of the operating system is on another partition. XP installs three files in the root of the C: partition. These files are hidden, read-only, system files and include the aforementioned boot.ini, and two others, ntldr, and Dual-boot systems also have a file bootsect.dos. If these get corrupted, the system will not boot so I suggest making a backup diskette with copies.


Ahhh....Me Time 17.03.2006. 16:05

If I have windows 98 do I need to buy a new computer to get windows XP? I have a gateway computer with windows 98 and a lot of things i want to download requires windows XP. Do i need a new computer or do they sell CD softwares that I can use to upgrade to windows XP? Thanks for the response.

Ahhh....Me Time

Admin 17.03.2006. 16:05

It's not hard to upgrade your PC; I'll try to type you through this here.

1) Minimum Requirements for Windows XP:

233MHz Processor

64MB Memory

650MB HDD space

I'd recommend at least 128MB of memory or it will be very slow.

If you meet these requirements, go to the next step.

2) Find an OEM disc of Windows XP Home (you don't need professional if your not a client of a server).

Buy the OEM (not retail) disc at any online computer store. Do a Google search for it. It will be half the cost of a retail version (XP Home is usually $90).

3) Most computers are set to boot from CD first. You stick in the XP CD and when it says "Press a key to boot from CD" do so.

It will load some necessary files with a blue-screen background. Then you will come to a part to setup the installation.

Press enter to install Windows.

Press F8 to accept license agreement.

Find the partition that has your old OS.

Press D to delete it.

Then press enter to confirm.

Then press L to confirm.

You'll be back at the partition screen.

Now press enter to format that partition you just erased.

Pick "format as NTFS" and don't choose quick.

Setup will format this. This may take an hour.

Then it'll automatically start installing Windows.

After another half-an-hour it'll restart your computer.

Don't press a key to boot from CD like before; let it load from the HDD.

Then Windows will give you the graphical install screen.

It'll do everything itself besides a few questions it'll ask.

After about 39 minutes, it'll be done and you'll be ready to use Windows XP.

Make sure you have the drivers for any necessary hardware on CD or disc before you do this. Otherwise you might be stuck with a modem or NIC (network card) that won't work and you won't be able to connect to the Internet to get the driver.

After writing this, I realize it may be a little difficult for someone who has never done it. I say give it a go yourself. If it doesn't work, you can always have someone else do it for you.

Remember to back up your data files too (like My Documents) on CD as these will be erased with the install. Also note that all programs will be erased but these cannot be backed up. Also, if Microsoft Office came with your computer but you don't have the CD for it, you won't be able to reinstall it as Office does not come with Windows XP.


Jason 27.03.2009. 20:15

How to erase everything off a cumputer? I just received a old computer and want to erase everything because it has old software and programs, and the memory only has like 40% left on it. It came with windows 98 and i installed windows 2000. I want it all gone so I can reinstall 2000 or xp. What should I do.


Admin 27.03.2009. 20:15

When you re-install the OS, format the hard drive and delete any partitions. That will wipe it clean.


sup3rdud390 15.03.2006. 01:55

How do you format an window 98? I accidental deleted the 3 files that enable me to deleted the window 98. Also it wont let me delete or reinstall win 98. What should I do?


Admin 15.03.2006. 01:55

ok...put in your win98 disk and reboot. it will ask if you want to boot fron disk, yes you do. you then want to boot with disk support. when you get to the a prompt(A:/) type fdisk. follow the screens untill you get to a menu page. you then have to delete the primary dos partition. reboot back to the A prompt and type in fdisk again. follow screens to the menu list and this time create a primary dos partition using 100% of available harddrive space. After the new partition is created, reboot back to the A prompt. this time type in format. when format is finninshed, reboot. now you can reload win 98.....good luck


devendusv 15.09.2007. 12:39

How can I full format a hard disk partition? I have reinstalled windows xp on my system by re creating all the partitions. Before this if I format any of the partition it have only 1 or 2 mb wastage. Afte the reinstallation of windows I give 10 gb space to disc C:,15 gb to D:,15 gb to E:,35gb to F:.Also I format all the partitions (not quick format). But each disc shows a used space of 64.9 mb. I format again and again and resize recycle bin, but no result. How can I restore the full space without format using windows 98(someone told me to format with windows 98)? Now windows 98 is not easy to obtain. What was happened actually? Please give me a solution.


Admin 15.09.2007. 12:39

if u have ur windows(any) installed on ur hard-disk(any partition)... follow these steps for formatting...

basically there are some hidden files which are formatted but created everytime u login to windows.. basically registry is corrupt..
goto start->run-> type cmd and press enter
command prompt appears... u`ll get to see
c:/documents and settings/user/administrator/> (cursor blinking here).. type cd\ and then press enter
type attrib -h and press enter..
then delete by using del command or by using erase ... when the curropted registry will be deleted, u`ll have ur partition free from MBx.. :).. have fun


Ffdsf D 13.02.2009. 04:15

How do I reformat My HardDrive and reinstall windows? ok... So i Bought Windows professinal And i had windows vista on my computer when i patrition or whatever u call it i have both perfessinal installed and vista i just want Professinal How do i Format it So only Professinal Is on my computer?

Ffdsf D

Admin 13.02.2009. 04:15

make a windows 98 boot disk (should have format,fdisk,edit ect...)
bot the disk and type (fdisk)
enable large support
delete the old partition(s)
reboot and do fdisk again.
create a partition
format it.
and install windows.

i do it all the time and iv never had a prob doing it.

you can google windows 98 boot disk to find a prog that will make 1 for u.


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