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Formatting Hard Drives

The boot sector on my hard drive has become corrupted. I've copied all the contents onto a spare hard disk and formatted the offending drive. After fdisking, can I just copy all the data (including the OS) back onto the drive, or will I need to re-install the OS and all my software?
1 Solution
Seeing you did not use any imaging program to clone the old HD, the standard answer is that you will have to re-install everything, beginning with the O/S. I suppose there may be complicated ways to go around this, but if you value your time and sanity, go for a reinstall.

No, if you simply copied then the OS will need to be reinstalled, so will any programs that effect the registry (most of them), only documents can be safetly copied like this.  However is you imaged the drive then the answer is yes you can image it back.  If you havent imaged it (comiserations) then next time you should.
a good imaging piece of software is Norton Ghost (it comes with systemworks) this takes not just your data but your registry and drivers etc. and replaces them exactly as they were.

if you have simply copied folders like 'program files' over then do not despair, some programs may still work if you just copy their program folder back into program files, but those that depend on a key or keys placed into the registry will not.  your documents etc. will be fine to copy back.

but this will have to be done after you install your operating system and drivers if you havent taken a drive 'image' with a program like ghost or partition magic
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vince14Author Commented:
Thanks for the help everyone. It turned out to be a problem with the BIOS in the end, so as soon as I've fixed that I'll make an image of my disk!

With Win98 I managed to system format a new hard disk, installed as a slave.

Copied over every file, including hidden/system files.

Remove the old HD, put the new one as the master on the primary IDE channel and boot of it sucessfully. Win98 never realised it was sitting on a new HD.
Panimu describes a method that should work. However, it must be performed with discipline: creating the correct type of partition, making the drive bootable, ensuring that all hidden and system files are copied etc. Having encountered a number of situations in which people have deviated from this procedure and bogged themselves down, I don't recommend it as a solution unless I *know* that all instructions are going to be followed, to the letter. I mean, many people don't even set their windows Explorer to show file extensions, even less hidden files...

Besides, a re-install is profitable in many respects, as a lot of useless things get wiped out and the system will be clean, without a lot of the things that accumulate in the registry.

If you have software installed and you have lost the install media, you may perhaps want to consider the method suggested by Panimu.


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