Reformat for a clean install

I have my final copy of Win98 and would like to do the recommended reformat and install clean.  I'm a bit nervous about doing this as I've not done a boot disk reformat before.  I have a win98 RC-4 recovery disk that sees the cd-rom drive. Can I use it or do I need to make a recovery disk from the final release version?  I currenly have Win98 RC-4 installed on my system as well.  I woud like a very detailed step by step walk-through of the process start to finish and will pay
300 points for such a service.  Thanks.
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rmarottaConnect With a Mentor Commented:
To install clean, you simply need a boot floppy with your CDROM driver on it.
Here's how:

You'll need the CD with Windows98 on it.
Next, create a bootable floppy disk.....
(You can do this from a computer using the same operating system)
.....with the following files on it:

<your CDROM's device driver file>  (for example: ATAPI.SYS)

The autoexec.bat file can contain only the following line:
     (CDROM is any up-to-8-character name you choose for the drive)

Your config.sys file should contain the following:

     DEVICE= <driver file> /D:CDROM

     (<driver file> is the name of your CDROM's device driver)

Do not type the words in parenthesis above.  They are for your reference only.
You'll have to locate a device driver file for the CDROM drive.
Next, test the floppy disk to be certain it will boot.
Then fdisk the hard drive, delete any existing partitions, insert the floppy, and reboot.
Enter CDROM's drive letter (followed by a colon)
Change to the WIN98 directory - CD <Drive Letter>:\WIN98  <Enter>
Type SETUP <Enter>
Windows will take over from there.

I hope this helps.  Let me know if you need more details.



We could publish a book of instruction here, but it may not be necessary.  As I don't know your level of skill with computers, I asked if you needed more details.
If you already understand how to FDISK & FORMAT a drive, I think you can get Windows installed okay with the information I've provided.


I did omit adding FORMAT (with a ".COM" extension) to the startup disk.  However, the extract command is available on the CD for recovering from such an error.
2) My Win98 Beta3 CDROM disk is dated January 21, 1998.  It has a SETUP.EXE file in the Win98 directory of the CD.

3) I think you'll find that the only way to load programs out of conventional memory using the LH command, is to use a memory manager such as EMM386.EXE. (A dos=high,umb statement loads Dos in the high memory area, between the Dos 640K limit and the first 1MB of ram.)
This is not necessary as Windows manages memory itself.

I'm really not interested in the number of points you place on your question.  I do want you to be comfortable with my information before proceeding though, so please ask if you need more.


Your answer is more of what I had in mind and it does address the Win98 issues and pecularities more so than Ralph whose response appears to be for Win95 installs.  I would award the points to Tom, but I'm not sure how to do it.  Tell me how.  Do I reopen to other experts?

I do however have another point or two to clarify.  The Win98 recovery disk (RC-4)already has autoexec.bat and config.sys on it and they are not written exactly as you have suggested. One would assume that if they are on the recovery disk that they must be right for this procedure don't ya think? I've copied them below for your comment. I can easily install the final release over RC-4 and make a recovery disk from the final version if you think it wise, but I doubt that there's much if any difference.

One more thing. I do have the full install version and not the upgrade version but it did not come to Beta testers with an install disk.

Here's the autoexec.bat file:

set LglDrv=27 * 26 Z 25 Y 24 X 23 W 22 V 21 U 20 T 19 S 18 R 17 Q 16 P 15
set LglDrv=%LglDrv% O 14 N 13 M 12 L 11 K 10 J 9 I 8 H 7 G 6 F 5 E 4 D 3 C
call setramd.bat %LglDrv%
set temp=c:\
set tmp=c:\
copy %RAMD%:\ > NUL
set comspec=%RAMD%:\
copy extract.exe %RAMD%:\ > NUL
copy readme.txt %RAMD%:\ > NUL

echo Please insert Windows 98 Startup Disk 2

%RAMD%:\extract /y /e /l %RAMD%: > NUL
echo The diagnostic tools were successfully loaded to drive %RAMD%.

IF "%config%"=="NOCD" GOTO QUIT
IF "%config%"=="HELP" GOTO HELP
LH %ramd%:\MSCDEX.EXE /D:mscd001 /L:%CDROM%

call help.bat
echo Your computer will now restart and the startup menu will appear.

echo To get help, type HELP and press ENTER.
rem clean up environment variables
set CDROM=
set LglDrv=

Here's the config.sys file:

menuitem=CD, Start computer with CD-ROM support.
menuitem=NOCD, Start computer without CD-ROM support.
menuitem=HELP, View the Help file.

device=himem.sys /testmem:off
device=oakcdrom.sys /D:mscd001
device=btcdrom.sys /D:mscd001
device=aspicd.sys /D:mscd001

device=himem.sys /testmem:off

device=himem.sys /testmem:off

devicehigh=ramdrive.sys /E 2048
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Your question was:
"I have my final copy of Win98 and would like to do the recommended reformat and install clean."

The setup I posted will install Win98 clean, as I have done it exactly as posted, many times.
The recovery disk is just that.  It enables you to recover your previous setup instead of doing a clean install.

Although many statements may be added to adjust the way Windows will set itself up, the only lines NECESSARY in the config and autoexec files are those to make Dos see the CDROM.....

The autoexec.bat file can contain ONLY:  MSCDEX.EXE /D:CDROM  
The config.sys can contain ONLY:  DEVICE= <driver file> /D:CDROM
(I would add other lines to config.sys as posted in my answer.)

As I mentioned, Windows setup will take over from there, prompting you for input as needed.

For more documentation I would suggest you print the readme and .txt files available on the CD, instead of repeating everything in this  limited space.

If you feel my answer is inadequate, and do not wish to ask for details to specific questions that you may have, simply re-open the question for anyone else to submit a proposed answer.


rmbishowAuthor Commented:

In the question rmbishow said:

I woud like a very detailed step by step walk-through of the process start to finish and will pay
300 points for such a service

You gave him a good explanation of the start, but you did not finish.  Please also note that he said "very detailed" explanation.  The guys offering a lot of points, give him the goods.

Also note that he specifically mentioned that he wanted to use the RC4 ESD to start the process.

You are correct about EMM386.EXE but it is a moot point anyway since MSCDEX would have loaded fine in the original version of my batch file.  The LH would have been ignored and the program would have been put in conventional memory.  I wanted to correct my own error but it really wouldn't have mattered.  I was being picky.  There are also several issues that I addressed in my version that I feel were relevant such as disabling BIOS virus protection.

I also don't care about the points.  If you want them then take them.  I am only here to try to help.  If you look at my posts in this message board I think you will find that I mostly post comments.  Sometimes these comments are the actual answers.  I often do not get points for the help I give.  Often my "answer" posts are solicited by the person that had the problem.  They indicate to me that they wish to award the points to me, so I post an answer.  

I have read several of the posts that you have put on this site and I respect your expertise.  You have given many fine answers.  I felt that the ommission of FORMAT from the boot disk was a potential problem so I mentioned it.  I also felt that rmbishow had asked for a more detailed than you supplied and he had offered enough points to expect it.  As you can see it turns out that he has the full version anyway.

I am sorry if I have offended you in this matter.  Go ahead and take the points.


Using the RC4 Emergency Startup Disk (ESD) with the existing startup files will give you one somewhat strange side-effect.  The ESD creates a RAMDRIVE on the D: drive that is used to hold the utilities that can be used to recover the system.  This is where you will find the FORMAT command.  FDISK is on the floppy disk itself.  The CDROM will be pushed to drive E: because of this.  When you install Win98 it will set up the E:\Win98 path as the source directory.  There is a problem with this because when Win98 finally boots for itself it will not have the RAMdisk.  The CDROM will revert to drive D: and the source path for install files will now be incorrect.  

There are two ways to fix this.  After Windows 98 is installed you could go into Device Manager and edit the properties of the CDROM drive to force it to use E: as its drive letter.  You could also edit the MRU list of install paths for setup in the registry to indicate the correct drive letter.  I tend to favor putting the CDROM on E: just in case I set up additional hard disk partitions or install a second hard disk.  

It is this problem with the drive letters that I was seeking to correct by replacing the startup files.  If you understand the problem and feel confident about dealing with it by all means use the startup files that are already on the ESD.

Ralph was also correct about FORMAT it has a COM extensions, not EXE.  If you use the ESD with its native startup files then this is a moot point since the FORMAT utility is on the RAMdisk.  You will not need to copy it or MSCDEX.EXE from the Windows directories.

You also have one other option you can investigate.  The Win98 CDROM is bootable.  If it is the full version then it is very possible to boot the CD (if your BIOS supports this) and do everything from there.  You will have to reformat your system partition during the initial phase of install by deleting and recreating it.  This is about as clean a reinstall as you can get.

I really did not wish to offend you and do appreciate you willingnes to share you expertise here.  I am not an expert, but do have some rudamentary knowledge.  I was troubled that your answer did not advise the inclusion of the OAKCDROM.SYS generic ATAPI driver which is unique to WIN98 installions.  Don't I need that as Tom has advised?

Another question for reclarification.  You said "The recovery disk is just that.  It enables you to recover your previous setup instead of doing a clean install."  I was under the impression that this boot disk boot disk had all the files necessary (and more) to both recover from a disaster as well as to do a maintenance refomat and clean install.  If you are right in your assertion, I thank you and will make one from scratch as you have advised. Is the Win98 recovery disk inadequate for this purpose?

As far as the points are concerned, I will gladly award them to you at the end of this exchange of ideas. If there is a way, I would also like to reward Tom for his willing assistance in this matter. Just tell me how.

Thanks again to you both,

The most important thing for me is the great feeling that I get when I help someone out.  Go ahead and give the points to Ralph.  Just wait until our discussion is done then accept his answer.  I don't need the points to feel good about this.  I am fairly accomplished in this field already.

If you like my expertise you can take one of my classes at Ziff-Davis University (  If the name doesn't ring a bell, these are the folks that publish PC Magazine, PC Computing, and PC Week.  It is VERY reasonably priced (only $4.95 per month) and a perfect learning alternative for a busy person.  You also have to buy the book for each class that you take.  They range in price from free to $75.00.  I currently teach the Windows 95 Installation and Support classes but will teach Win98 and some WinNT classes also.  There is a Windows 95 class starting June 8th that still has a few (very few) seats left in it.  If you hurry you can still get in.  The book for my class is about $50.00 US.  It covers both Part 1 and Part 2 of the class.  Each part runs for eight weeks so you get a total of sixteen weeks of Win95 class.  Your total outlay is about $70.00 US for the class.  You can compare this to taking a similar class at a Microsoft training center and it will cost about $1000.00 US.

Now back to business.  You can use the recovery disk to perform the Win98 install if you like.  All of the utilities you need will be either on the A: drive or the D: drive after it boots.  Since the D: drive is a RAMdisk, the utilities from it can be used to format your hard disk.  As long as you are OK with the problem that I mentioned then go for it!

rmbishowAuthor Commented:
Rick & Tom,
I am sorry for the way my comments have sounded to both of you.  It seems that I've been rushing to do too many things around here at once, and I guess I let it interfere with my patience and manners.  Please accept my apology.
After finally taking time to think about it, I really feel that Tom has provided the most in-depth answer for what has been asked here, and he should receive the credit for it.
Rick, please reject my answer so he can post one.
Let me know if there is anything else I can help with.

Ralph and Tom,
Hmmm... Kind of a tough spot here. You have both been so kind to freely share your knowledge and I want to show my appreciation.  So I will do this.  I will accept Ralph's answer and then submit a related question for Tom and hope that he will respond.
Again thanks and all the best,
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