Reinstalling Windows 98...I need advice

My computer keeps crashing, especially when I’m online and running another application, like Word. When I say “crash”, I mean it not only closes all of the programs, but it goes all black screen and restarts itself. And then sometimes right after it reboots, the computer freezes up. Since I’m writing my dissertation right now, this is not good at all.

I’m thinking I need to do what I haven’t done for the 4 years that I’ve had my computer: reinstall Windows 98.

But I’m scared. What are the possible repercusions? Will I lose data files (like Word documents)? Will I have to reinstall all of my programs? Since my computer came without a Windows 98 CD, I will have to buy one. Should I upgrade or stick with 98? I need some help. Please throw me some pearls of wisdom.

I just built my current machine because my motherboard was starting to go out on me in addition to tons of random, unfixable hard drive errors (I never turned off my machine). It is pretty easy to do it assuming you have a full version of windows 98. If you do, you can easily get an upgrade for roughly 100 bucks to either win2k or winxp. I don’t really have a preference but when I asked here the majority of the people said go with xp because it is more stable.

If you have a CD burner of any type, burn off all of the data that you want to back up. I would suggest floppies but they typically can’t hold everything the way a nice CD is able to do. If you can get away with doing it on floppies or don’t have any choice, only take off the irreplaceable things (like word documents and select photos and things like that). Anything that you can easily send to your email account or easily download back off the net, you should drop like a lawn goose (they are just tacky). Also, any software that you have installed since you got your PC should already have backups anyway. Some MP3 players will allow you to copy off the entire hard drive to the player pretty much instantaneously and have it ready to flash back over to the pc after you get the operating system reinstalled.

Then stick in your Operating System CD and format your hard drive when you get to the prompt that asks if that is what you want to do. This is the easiest way to get rid of whatever unknown error is causing you to reboot. Yes, you will basically lose everything, but you handily backed it up, right? Anyway, that is the best bet. You may find that the computer isn’t booting to desktop because of a faulty operating system (which is what happened to me) and in this case you are out of luck, a new hard drive is typically the cheapest way to go if it has sustained irreperable damage somehow. However, by that point you are a quarter of the way to buying a new pc anyway (you can get a 400 buck dell pc that is fairly decent or build one yourself for roughly 500 bucks that is pretty nice) so you may as well spend your money there.


Make a boot disk first
When you reinstall on the blank hard drive, do this:

Boot from floppy with CD support

md windows
cd windows
md options
cd options
md cabs
cd cabs
copy d:\win98*.* //(Assuming that your CD drive is D: - it may be E: if the boot disk sets up a ram drive)

This may sound like a joke, but it’s not. I’m quite serious.

I had that exact same problem recently. The computer would suddenly go black screen and turn itself off for no apparent reason.

One day, it did this, and I couldn’t turn it back on. We tried fiddling with the switch, and it flatly refused.

I decided to take the casing off and have a look at the power switch. While disconnecting everything from the back of the tower… I discovered that the power cable that plugs into the back of the tower LOOKED plugged in, but had gradually come loose to the point where it was barely hanging on.

I plugged it firmly back into the tower, and hit the switch.

The computer came on. Works fine, and has ever since…

Wang-Ka, I’m going to check that out. My computer has always been a little suceptible to mild crashes, but it’s only recently when it’s been going off the deep end like this. Coincidentally, I just installed a new mouse, which required blind fiddling around back there (I can’t easily access the back of the computer). I’m wondering if I loosened something.

Whoops, sorry.

What I should have said was this:

“At first, it would suddenly go black, then turn itself off and reboot. Then, a while later, it would suddenly go black and turn itself off and stay off… you’d have to turn it back on. Finally, one day, it refused to turn back ON…”

My present computer is doing the same and it is caused by the monitor cable. I have the tower under my desk on one side and the monitor on the other side. The monitor video cable is under my feet and quite tense. Sometimes i kick or pull with my feet and sometimes it results in a reboot. Any loose cable or connection could do it. I would definitely make sure everything is tight and well connected before I would decide to reinstall the OS.

BTW, if you did not get a disk with your OS I am guessing it is an illegal copy.

As far as which version to install, I have stuck with WIN98SE because it does what I need and seems pretty compatible with older hardware and because it seems quite stable and the kinks have been ironed out. If and when I need to move up I’ll try XP but I’ve heard horror stories and the registration issue turns me off.

This type of question comes up a lot here & the first thing to look at is heat. Make sure you have enough fans & they are clean. You can also take the top off the computer & direct a fan at it & if it works fine then you know that its heat.