Formatting laptop HD. Bad idea?

Yeah, that says it all. I’ve got a practically antique laptop with all sorts of junk on it and it’s a huge mess. I’ve got Windows 98 ready to install on it, and instead of installing over Win 95, I’m thinking I’ll just start with a clean slate.

I’ve done this with desktops no problem. My only question/concern is if there is anything ‘special’ about a laptop I should know before I go ahead with this.

Can it boot from the CD?

If not, if you have an external CDROM with a PCMCIA SCSI interface be sure that you can boot from a floppy and install the DOS CDROM and PCMCIA drivers. Otherwise you’ll have no way to install the OS.

If you do have trouble reading the CDROM drive without an OS installed on the HD, you can remove the laptop HD, and put it in a desktop with an adaptor. Then you can copy the CD files to the laptop HD, put the HD back in the laptop and install off the HD.

It can also be challenging to find all the drivers if you don’t have the original install disks.

Heh. Thanks. I have already discovered that, while not a ‘bad’ idea per se, it is an idea wrought with… complications.

For some reason it couldn’t boot from the CD. So, now I’ve got a floppy boot disk, but the computer won’t recognize the CD drive when I boot from the floppy. Grrrrrrrrr.

You need to make sure that there’s a CD-ROM driver on the boot floppy. If the one you have doesn’t have it, go to a site like where you can download one.

Thanks Dewey!

I actually found that very site with google, and everything seems to be working fine now.

You can copy the install parts of the Win98 CD to your HD first. It would be the directory with all the “CAB” files. (And copy all of them.) Some versions of Win9x will only install from CD, etc., but there are ways around that which we can help you with if you run into problems.

You don’t actually need to format the HD. Just erase all the files and directories you don’t need for the new install. (E.g., the “WINDOWS” and “PROGRAM FILES” directories, if there are no data files you want to keep below those.)

The really tricky part is to make sure you have all the driver files from the laptop maker’s web site on the HD and unpacked. During the new install, you will be asked where the drivers are. (If no new drivers are available, you can use the ones from your Win95 setup, but there is increased chance of problems.)

Note that Win98 is a bigger hog than Win95. How underpowered is your laptop in terms of processor speed and memory? For a 100Mhz Pentium with 16M, it’s best to just run Win95.

You need to create a win98 install disk with the right floppy drivers. Do not use a Win95 install disk. You might even try a Win ME boot disk.

Go here and get the boot image you need . It will extract to the floppy.

Yeah what Dewey said! :wink:

What is the specific make & model, CPU, RAM and and hard drive size of your notebook?

I’ve got not only the windows CD, but another CD with all the CAB files on it.

I’m not 100% sure of the processor speed (properties on My Computer didn’t tell me), but it’s some sort of Pentium with 64 meg of memory. I think it should be ok.

And, it’s got two separate 2gig hard drives.

It’s a Toshiba Tecra 550CDT (whatever that means). I couldn’t find any info on it on either the Toshiba site or with google.

I owned that machine once! Big, heavy, HOT running SOB. Nice screen ( for the time). It was a Pentium 266 Mhz unit with 4 gig HD. It will run 98 just fine. You might even want to try WInME if you have it, as it has considerably more built in drivers.

A word to the wise. Do NOT run the machine on your lap or you’ll get toasty. Video is S3 Virge and sound drivers are Yamaha OPL3SAx.

Here are the complete product specifications and onboard hardware

I’ve never seen anyone squish two hard drives into one laptop case. I suspect you have one 4 gig hard drive, partitioned into 2 gig drives. Ah the joys of win95 and fat16…

You could probably repartition it into one big drive.


You are correct. That is how the 4 gig drive came partitioned on the unit out of the box.

Interesting. Thanks for all the help everyone. How would I go about un-partitioning the drive?

Oh, and it’s now up and running beautifully. I’ve got to go get a network card for the thing now.

I’ve done the Big Reformat Thing many times with laptop and desktop computers - the most crucial part of the process, in my experience, is to identify the hardware devices (particularly sound, video, network and modem) BEFORE formatting the hard drive - Windows, particularly win9X isn’t always able to correctly identify them during installation and it can be quite hard to do after the thing is wiped.

There’s a free program called ‘Unknown Device Identifier’ by Huntersoft that can assist with the process, and is invaluable if you have already done the wipe/install and have one or more yellow question marks in the Device Manager.

Generally you use fdisk to repartition the drive. Unfortunately this doesn’t go well with the second bit above, as it means wiping the disk again. Once you have an up and running system, you don’t want to use fdisk. You can use something like partition magic (not free), which can repartition your drive without losing data (usually).