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PC911 > How-To > Windows > Clean-installing Windows

Formatting your Partitions


After creating partitions, each of them will be assigned a drive letter in DOS. Your primary partition will be drive C: and the next partition will be drive D: and so on. The extended and logical partitions under it will be last. (Your CD-ROM drive letter will be assigned the next letter after those). Note that if you have more than one fixed disk and are using multiple partitions, the drive letter assignment will assign letters to all primary partitions first. This means that your logical partitions on the first drive will be assigned letters after the primary partitions on the second drive. This can get pretty confusing.

There are basically two ways to format a primary partition, you can either make it bootable by copying system files and making the drive bootable. (this is only for your active primary, when you set it active FDISK writes the boot program to the Master Boot Record MBR), or you can let the operating system installation take care of that. I generally just let Windows setup handle that, for a super clean install. To do this, type from the A: prompt while booted with your startup disk:

Not bootable: FORMAT C:
Make bootable: FORMAT C: /S
Format the rest of your partitions in the following manner: FORMAT D:
(Substitute correct drive letter(s) if necessary)






When you have finished formatting all your partitions (or only your C: partition if you didn't repartition), you can then install Windows to the C: drive. Boot with your floppy disk that allows access to your CD-ROM, change to your CD-ROM drive letter, and type SETUP.

Windows Setup will guide you through the rest of the process. If all goes well, you'll be back in business better than before in no time. If you are having trouble installing Windows from the CD-ROM you can copy all of the files from the \Win98 (or \Win95) directory on the CD to a directory on the hard drive that you've created (eg. C:\CABS) using one of the following commands. You can launch Setup from that directory and it will install from there.

From the \Win95 directory on the CD: COPY *.* C:\CABS
From anywhere else: COPY D:\WIN95\*.* C:\CABS
(Substitute correct CD-ROM drive letter for D: if necessary)

Installing your Applications

After you get Windows installed, have a look around and make sure everything is working properly. Have a look in Device Manager for any hardware problems. Any problem devices will be marked with a yellow highlighted exclamation mark. Disabled devices will be marked in red. Hopefully Windows Setup detected all your hardware and installed drivers (or gave you the opportunity to supply them from diskettes you hopefully created earlier). For devices that didn't get detected during setup, you can use the Add New Hardware Wizard in Control Panel. You can let it search for new hardware or you can tell it what type of hardware you want to install. For example, when I install my Iomega Zip drive, I just select the option to manually add a hardware device and I choose the SCSI controller category. I click on Have Disk and insert the floppy disk, find the Iomega Parallel Port Interface and it installs. The exception to this is printers, Windows does not detect and install drivers for printers during setup or with the Add New Hardware Wizard. You have to do that by clicking the Start Button, going to Settings, choosing Printers and double-click Add Printer. You can see if Windows has a driver for your printer by scrolling through the list or click Have Disk and install from there. If you are running Windows 98 there is a very good chance that Windows already has a driver for your printer on the CD.

Tip: If you get a Windows error message saying a file needed for installation was not found you can come out of the installation, find the file by right clicking the Start button on your desktop and going to Find/Search and noting the location of the file. Re-run the installation and point Windows to the location when it can't find the file itself.

Once you are sure that all your devices are working properly, you can begin to install your applications software. I usually get my Internet connection and related programs set up first, so I can download any patches or drivers I may need. Then I install my most important software and make sure everything is functioning properly. It is best to do it one application at a time, rebooting in between even if you aren't prompted to. This step-by-step process will help you narrow down what the culprit is if you suddenly start running into problems.

When all your most important software is set up and functioning, it is a good idea to make a backup of the system registry and other configuration files like Win.ini and System.ini. Now you can start restoring all your data from the backups you created, installing other programs, games, etc. and customize Windows to your liking. You're done!

Page 1: Before you begin
Page 2: Pre-format check list
Page 3: Partitioning and Fdisk-ing
Page 4: Formatting your partition & setting up Windows (this page)






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