reformat hard drive

My BIL just gave me his old dell inspiron computer because it often takes a half dozen attempts to boot, first giving a no bootable device found. It was his old work computer running windows 2000 NT. I want to install windows 98SE (yes, I know support for this is going or gone) but need to reformat the c: drive, or so I assume. He was not an administrator, so I am having a hard time finding out how to reformat the drive. Any suggestions?

I do this quite a lot; you shouldn’t need any NT access rights at all, if you’re doing it this way:

-Make a Win98 boot disk (Start>Settings>Add and remove programs>startup disk on another win98 machine)
-Boot the machine from the floppy disk (you might need to change the boot sequence in the BIOS setup if it doesn’t try to boot from the floppy drive before the hard drive)
-When you get a command prompt, run FDISK
-Remove all of the existing partitions and create new ones
-Reboot (still from the floppy)
-Format the partitions
-Make a folder called C:\Windows\Options\CABs, navigate to it and copy \win98*.* to it from your Windows setup CD
-Run Setup (from the C:\Windows\Options\CABs directory on your hard drive)

Before you embark on this though, it helps if you can find out the identity of the video, sound, network and modem devices, because Win98 probably won’t recognise them or fully support them.

Unfortunately, the laptop does not have a floppy drive, and my computer with 98 on it does not have a CD burner. Actually, my son will be home from college next week, and he has an external floppy that HP had to give us when they lost the computer we sent in to repair, so I can attach that. If no one has another solution I will just wait until then. I want to set up wireless networking, but of course I am prohibited from doing that as the laptop is now set up, what without admin privledges.

If you have a Win98 install CD, then this shouldn’t be a problem.

Turn off the laptop. Put in the CD. Turn on Laptop. It should boot from CD. It will first ask if you want to boot from the CD or from the HD. Answer CD. The setup program will start, and somewhere along the way you should get an option to exit the setup and go to DOS. Do that, then follow Mangetout’s instructions starting with FDISK. On reboot, just let the setup run through. It will find your newly partitioned HD, and format it for you.

Since you have someone coming soon who knows how to do this kind of stuff, now is a good time to try it on your own. Try it, and if you muff it then your son can straighten it out for you when he shows up.
What may be a problem is that the company may have set a password in the BIOS. You can get around this, but that gets hairy fast - and I’d not like to try and talk you through via mesage board.

If you can’t boot from CD, then you will need to get into the BIOS. Getting there is different depending on the manufacturer, and changing the boot order differs too.

If you have a Toshiba, then you’ll want to look for a directory called “Toshiba” on the HD before you format it. That has special programs for the Toshiba BIOS, and with out them you are screwed. Toshiba may have changed this since I haven’t dealt with a new one in a few years - but then again you are dealing with a used PC that is probably a few years old.

Good luck!

Sounds to me like the hard drive is probably going south. “No bootable device found” is an error from the BIOS, not the OS. Re-installing an OS isn’t going to fix it.

When installing 98, I follow a procedure similar to Mangetout. I copy the entire win98 folder from the CD to the hard drive, and install from there. I usually copy all of the drivers to the hard drive first also. Most laptop manufacturers have drivers available on their web pages. Poke around Dell’s web site and see what you can find. You may find that some devices in the laptop aren’t supported under win98.

You need not make a C:\Windows\Options\CABS folder - it can be c:\win98 or c:\setup or whatever you want to call it. As long as you run SETUP from said folder, Windows will always look there for its setup files before it asks for the CD. Also, you can use the following switches when running SETUP:

/nf - Do not prompt to remove the floppy disk from the drive (for bootable CD-ROMs)
/nm - This switch bypasses the minimum hardware requirement test. This tests for a minimum of a 486/66DX central processing unit (CPU) and 16 megabytes (MB) of memory.
/ie - This switch bypasses the Windows 98 Startup Disk wizard screens. If this switch is used, the Windows\Command\EBD folder is not created.
/in - Do not call the net setup code. This will not even add the network wizard pages.
/id - This switch bypasses checking for the minimum disk space required to install Windows
/im - Causes setup to ignore the conventional memory check.

So if you know that the latop has enough memory to run Win98, just type SETUP.EXE /IM at the command-prompt. For most installs of 98 I type the following:

SETUP.EXE /nf /nm /ie /in /id/ im

It makes setup complete much faster. If you have a network card in the system and are not comfortable with setting it up yourself, do not use the /in switch. Everything else Mangetout says is spot-on.

This is true; the only reason I suggest \windows\options\cabs is that this is supposed to be the ‘industry standard’ (and makes any third party’s future job a little easier, should they have to work on the machine.

Unless the hard drive is desperately small, don’t just install from the CD, or every time you change a few settings, it will ask you to insert the install CD.

This is particularly frustrating when the settings you are changing require an install CD of their own - try to install the Novell Netware Client from a CD on a machine where Windows has also been installed straight from CD and you get to a point where it asks you for each of the CDs alternately, several times, while complaining each time (by means of a Blue Screen Of Death) that you’ve removed the other CD.

Oops; paragraphs 2 and 3 above were just general comments, not intended to address Rex.

The next few steps after the Windows Setup (for me, at least) consist of:

-Install Antivirus software (I use AVG mostly)
-Install a software firewall (Sygate)
-Connect to broadband (even if only temporarily)
-Update Antivirus
-Visit Windows Update and install everything (OK, maybe not all the international bits for IE)
-Visit the websites of the various hardware manufacturers and download their latest drivers.