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Format, Partition and install OS

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  • Format, Partition and install OS

    Hi folks, it has come time to backup and wipe my PC.

    I think/hope I have this covered.

    This time around, I would like to partition the single 20gig drive into two 10gig drives (for many reasons, although not as good as two separate drives).

    I have never done anything like this on a PC, and know nothing about DOS or BIOS stuff.

    Can anyone help me with tips or thoughts on what I need to do to wipe/format/partition the computer before I reinstall the OS and other software?

    I know this will probably not be fun and I may have to devote some hours to the task, but with the help of those who have done this I am hoping that I may speed things up somewhat.

    The last thing I need is to get stuck once I have wiped my current setup and be left in the position of having to get a local PC guru in to get me out of trouble...or should I just pay someone to do all this for me? If on a Mac I would not need to pay someone, but PC's are a mystery to me. <g>


    Stephen Marsh.

  • #2

    You should not have to worry about the BIOS. The BIOS just recognizes the whole disk, not the partitions.

    Which Windows version are you installing? I know about W2K and WXP, but can't remember W98 (and never used WME.) Once I know what OS, I think I can give you specifics.



    • #3
      Thanks for the quick replies!

      Thanks Jeanie - I will be running W98SE, but I am thinking of getting another OS for the other partition/drive.

      Once I have backed up my data, I dont even know how to go about wiping/partitioning the disk before reinstalling the OS.

      Chuck - good points, although I do not have that much junk taking up my drive - yet!

      I guess this is an option that I did not consider and has many benefits.

      So, spend a few hundred bucks which I probably cant justify on this task - on a drive and someone to install it - or bit the bullet and backup (which I have to do anyway) and to partition and reinstall...tough choices!

      I can see potential problems either way. But I now have more to think about.

      Part of my concern is my lack of knowlege about MS OS at the low level and how one goes about wipes/installs/partitions etc.

      Thanks again,

      Stephen Marsh.


      • #4

        I found a few pages in my W2K manual about installing a dual-boot W98/W2K system on separate partitions. Luckily, it gives pretty detailed steps on how to install Windows 98 - including using FDISK to format and partition the hard drive. If you PM me with your e-mail address (or just e-mail me), I'd be happy to scan these pages and send them to you.

        Alternatively, I just found this page which seems to cover everything. (At least this is the way I remember doing it.) It's a step-by-step guide that seems straightforward to me. But, I'm also fairly well-versed in PCs. So, if you read through that link and it all seems like Greek, please don't hesitate to ask questions.

        Basically, the steps are:
        1. Boot from either the W98 CDROM or the W98 emergency boot disk.
        2. Run FDISK to partition the disk.
        3. Reboot (happens automatically when you exit FDISK) and FORMAT C: /s to format the C: drive as the system disk. You can then FORMAT D: or wait until later (if you're not planning on putting anything on it during the installation process.)

        If you really need to wipe the disk clean (e.g., you're giving the computer to someone else), then you'll probably want to "write zeros" to the disk before running FDISK. You'll need the disk manufacturer's disk utillities to do this though. If you don't have them and you need to do this, check the manufacturer's website in the support/downloads area. They usually have them there.

        BTW, if you decide that you want to purchase another disk, it's really quite easy to install the disk yourself. Lots of "build your own PC" sites have info on installing disks. It doesn't sound like this is your main system though, so I'm not sure you need another disk. How do you use the system? How many applications do you plan on installing? Has disk space been an issue in the past?



        • #5
          I would go with Chuck's advice and get a new drive. I got a 40gb drive for around $50 (US) and installed it with my original 40gb...the setup was very easy.

          If you want another OS, you might consider Linux. It's stable, comes with software to configure your drives and is free! I installed it to a small partition on one of my drives and it worked very well...the GUI reminded more of a Mac than Windows.


          • #6
            Thanks for the replies, I feel that with the info Jeanie has provided and a little bit more research I should be able to partition my existing drive if I go down that path (which is not ideal in many respects).

            I will ask some local PC stores about their prices on drives, I did not want to add hardware but for both system and Photoshop performance and overall ease of transition, this is a fairly easy option and may be the best long term solution.

            I will post back when I know which way I will go.

            Thanks for all the help so far, it has been a big help.

            Stephen Marsh.


            • #7
              Glad the info was helpful. You've certainly given all of us lots of help in the past. I'm glad we could return the favor for once! More questions are welcome if/when they come up.



              • #8
                Just a quick update - I now have a new Seagate 40gig internal IDE, which was the ideal solution, all things being considered. It pays to shop around, the price range goes from around $130 - 320 installed.

                It will be interesting to put Photoshop through some benchmarking tests to see what performance gains there are, although this was not the primary reason for the new drive. It will also be worth a look at putting the OS scratch file on the other drive too.

                20gig drives are rare, although I do not need a lot of space long term the 40gig can't hurt - but I still have reservations over the time that disk optimisation and error checking will take.

                Thanks again for all the input and help,

                Stephen Marsh.


                • #9
                  Good for your Stephen. I'm a little late chiming in but I also agree with the multiple drive scenerio. I have done my upgrades that way for the past few years. Now that drives are so cheap it makes good cents to have a seperate drive for the scratch disk and also doesn't require putting your data at risk.

                  Now the way I used to re-load is also better than re-formatting the drive. As long as you delete the "Windows" directory and the "program files" directory you will have removed the registry and will get a clean new load of Windows without having to re-format. This is the way I have done my upgrade/re-loads for years. You are able to keep the data files in their original locations that way.

                  Now if you want to improve your performance you will have to get one of the newer high density hard drives. When you get above 200 Gig the track density to 2 to 4 times higher than the regular size drives which means the data transfer rate is that much higher than the normal 7200 RPM drives.


                  • #10
                    Hi Stephen,
                    Recently I went through something similar although not by chioce. My OS crashed badly and the only option was reformat and reinstall. But I knew there was information I needed to recover from the old HD so I purchased a second drive and installed the OS on that and recovered the info. Then formatted the older drive so now I have 2 useable drives which is working very well. I keep all of my important info on the one without the OS so that if there is ever another OS failure the info is still available.
                    There is a good site with very helpful people for all of this tech stuff at


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