How can one re-install system files for Windows 98 without doing a "full install" ?

Posted on 2003-11-23
Last Modified: 2013-12-29
How can one re-install "system files" for Windows 98 without doing a "full, or clean, installation" ? - I have seen many cases where a user had inadvertently deleted or over-written one or more "system" files that disabled some functionality on their computer in some way, but I was not ready to do a clean installation, thereby losing the customer's current desktop settings, look and "feel", and I didnt wan't to lose registry settings for currently installed programs, etc.  Invariably user doesn't have or cant find the install disks for his program, also, and of course avoiding reloading everything is desirable.  Is there a way?
Question by:audiodude
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Accepted Solution

CrazyOne earned 300 total points
ID: 9805979
Reinstall the operating system over the top of itself. This will retain most of you settings and programs and replace the system files.

If the CD is bootable and your system allows booting from the CD then boot to the CD and install.

Otherwise boot to a ME or Win98 floppy bootdisk
Put the CD in the CD drive
At the prompt run the following command


If you don't have the CD then run one of these commands




Note that reinstalling Windows does not alter your currently installed programs unless a program has previously replaced a Windows system file. If a program does not work correctly after you reinstall Windows, reinstall the program, but note that the program may be replacing one or more Windows system files.
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Assisted Solution

kronostm earned 200 total points
ID: 9806295
Another way would be sfc (system file checker) It searches for corrupted/deleted files and restores them from the CD.
clisk start->run and type
That's all. It will require the CD and restore files. Indeed, there are often problems that can't be solved just like that, so a "on top" reinstall is needed or worse, a clean oe.


Author Comment

ID: 9807831
-I tried sfc - id didnt find anything unusual - going to try "install-over" tomorrow--
should I tell it to put system files in a new directory?? - SR.
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Expert Comment

ID: 9808994
LVL 38

Expert Comment

ID: 9810029
Just an addendum to the accurate comments posted above.

If you have a clear indication of any specific system files being notified as causing the problem(s) it is sometimes a good idea to either rename or delete them after booting to your Win98 boot floppy, but immediately before running SETUP.EXE.

That way you can be sure that the files will be replaced.  Sometimes if the file is present, but corrupted, it won't be replaced doing an "overinstall".

As kronostm has said, DON'T install it to WINDOWS.000 or whatever options you might be given or have been advised by others.  The idea is to install it to the SAME locations to REPLACE missing or corrupted files.

Expert Comment

ID: 9820387

When you install a program on a windows PC it generally makes all kinds of changes to the system and the registry. To try and just reinstall windows without affecting other things is a nice idea and many try it, but in many situations I believe it to be a "pipe dream". Perhaps if you have a real basic system with just a few programs, that might be a viable option. But my recommendation has always been--back up your data and completely format the drive and reinstall windows. It will take some extra time but its not a "patch job" and you will probably find you will get a much longer running, more stable running Windows in the long run. Yes you will have the hassle of all your settings drivers etc.. but I believe you will get better returns in the long run for your "upfront"  time investment. For a hard core PC user you may want to plan to rebuild a Windows PC every year or less. After a few times a person gets very fast at doing it, the PC has a lot of speed because the system is clean and is much more stable, yielding yearlong results. Perhaps this is not the popular answer but it's what has worked well for me.

Happy computing!

Expert Comment

ID: 9841643
You can re-install windows 98 and 98se only by booting to the cd and look for tools\pcrestore.bat (may be in another directory, but it is on the cd, just look for it.)  This will reinstall windows without have to install anything again.  I have used it several times on clients whose pc was malfunctioning and i did not wish to lose what they had.  You will have to navigate through the directories to find it.  Without having the cd in front of me i cannot remember but it there.

Good Luck.
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Expert Comment

ID: 9842030
Win98 SE CD:\tools\sysrec\pcrestor.bat

@echo ==============================================================
@echo               Welcome to Microsoft System Recovery!
@echo ==============================================================
@echo       Sit back and relax while the System Recovery program
@echo       prepares your system to be restored.  This will take
@echo       approximately 30-60 minutes,  depending on the speed
@echo       of your computer.
@echo ==============================================================
@echo       When preparation is complete, the system recovery wizard
@echo       will help you complete the restore process.  Make sure
@echo       you have your full system backup handy.
@echo ==============================================================
@echo OFF
md C:\restore
copy msbatch.inf c:\restore\msbatch.inf
cd win98
setup.exe c:\restore\msbatch.inf /is /id /iq /im /id /ie /IW


Win98 SE CD:\tools\sysrec\MSBATCH.INF

; Copyright (c) 1995-1997 Microsoft Corporation.
; All rights reserved.
; This INF is used for System Recovery Only
; When Windows was previously installed to
; C:\Windows and the user has made a Full
; System Backup

Version=3.0 (32-bit)

Signature = "$CHICAGO$"



Name="System Recovery"
Org="Preferred Customer"

Description="System Recovery"


"Accessibility Options"=0
"Enhanced Accessibility"=0
"Desktop Wallpaper"=0
"Document Templates"=0
"Mouse Pointers"=0
"Quick View"=0
"Windows Scripting Host"=0
"Dial-Up Networking"=1
"Dial-Up Server"=0
"Direct Cable Connection"=0
"Microsoft Chat 2.0"=0
"Microsoft NetMeeting"=0
"Phone Dialer"=0
"Virtual Private Networking"=0
"Dangerous Creatures"=0
"Inside your Computer"=0
"Leonardo de Vinci"=0
"More Windows"=0
"The 60's USA"=0
"The Golden Era"=0
"Windows 95"=0
"Desktop Themes Support"=0
"Microsoft FrontPage Express"=0
"Microsoft VRML 2.0 Viewer"=0
"Microsoft Wallet"=0
"Personal Web Server"=0
"Web Publishing Wizard"=0
"Web-Based Enterprise Mgmt"=0
"Microsoft Outlook Express"=0
"Central European"=0
"Audio Compression"=1
"CD Player"=0
"DVD Player"=0
"Macromedia Shockwave Director"=0
"Macromedia Shockwave Flash"=0
"Media Player"=1
"Microsoft NetShow Player 2.0"=0
"Multimedia Sound Schemes"=0
"Sample Sounds"=0
"Sound Recorder"=0
"Video Compression"=1
"Volume Control"=1
"T WorldNet Service"=0
"Prodigy Internet"=0
"The Microsoft Network"=0
"Additional Screen Savers"=0
"Flying Windows"=1
"OpenGL Screen Savers"=0
"Character Map"=0
"Clipboard Viewer"=0
"Disk compression tools"=0
"Drive Converter (FAT32)"=0
"Group policies"=0
"Net Watcher"=0
"System Monitor"=0
"System Resource Meter"=0
"TV Viewer"=0








Extracts from   Win98 SE CD:\tools\sysrec\recover.txt


The System Recovery program restores your Windows 98 system by using the full backup that you created with Microsoft Backup. To use System Recovery to restore your system, you must have:

- Your Windows 98 CD-ROM
- A backup device connected to your computer
- A full system backup created with Microsoft Backup  ***** NOTE *****

>>>To restore Windows 98 on your computer:

1. Insert your Windows Startup Disk into your floppy disk drive, and then start your computer.
2. On the Boot menu, choose Start your computer with CD-ROM support.
3. At the MS-DOS command prompt, type n:  (where N is the drive letter of your CD-ROM drive)
   and then press ENTER.
4. At the MS-DOS command prompt, type CD tools\sysrec  and then press ENTER.
5. At the MS-DOS command prompt, type pcrestor  and then press ENTER.

6. Follow the instructions that appear on your screen.  This reinstalls Windows 98 on your computer. When Setup is complete, the System Recovery wizard starts.

>>>To use the System Recovery wizard to restore your files:

1. In the System Recovery wizard, click Next.
2. Type your name and company, and then click Next.
3. Click Details.
4. In the Help window, read the entire Backup Help topic.  This explains the entire recovery process.
5. When you have finished reading the Help topic, click the Close button.
6. In the System Recovery wizard, click Finish.  The Microsoft Backup Welcome screen appears.

IMPORTANT: If you click Cancel, click Yes, and then restart your system. The System Recovery wizard automatically starts.

7. In the Microsoft Backup dialog box, click Restore backed up files.
8. Follow the instructions that appear on your screen.

IMPORTANT: You should restore hardware settings ONLY if your hardware is the same as when you made the backup.

The entire backup of the registry is restored, as are all selected local drives.
If you do not click Restore hardware and system settings to the registry but continue with the operation, your software settings and configuration will be restored along with all selected local drives.

Restore all your new and changed files (incremental) backups. Begin with the oldest and progress to the most recent incremental backup.

Expert Comment

ID: 9842114
That is it! by golly.  That will put your 98 back to a working order if it screws up.  Thanks Bill glad someone knew where it was.  I have not used it in awhile but it had worked everytime when I had.
LVL 38

Expert Comment

ID: 9842765
The only problem I see is that it requires that a backup has been made from Microsoft Backup, unless I've missed a bit in the reading of it.  With MS Backup's inability to write to any external devices other than Tape Devices and SCSI Drives, I've never used it apart from creating small .qic files on my spare partition.

Expert Comment

ID: 9843404
It always asks that but just hit cancel and that causes no problems.  The machine will work fine unless it is hardware related of course.  It surprised me the first time i ran the pcrestore with the backup, I thought now I really messed up but hit the cancel and away it went.  Don't know why it always asked that either.
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Expert Comment

ID: 9844090
I can see now that it is doing a very limited batch installation which is specified by the entries in MSBATCH.INF.  Of course, the .inf file is used by administrators to do "batch installations" and can act as an "answer file", so theoretically it could be edited.

Given your assurances that it doesn't insist on the presence of a backup, that the remarks at the start of MSBATCH.INF are somewhat ambiguous or simply not mandatory.

; This INF is used for System Recovery Only
; When Windows was previously installed to
; C:\Windows and the user has made a Full
; System Backup

Looking at the command line options and parameters for setup.exe called from the file pcrestor.bat

setup.exe c:\restore\msbatch.inf /is /id /iq /im /id /ie /IW

I see that some aren't documented or available from DOS help setup /?  but this page is very helpful:

(Why do they insist on creating url's with spaces instead of underscores?  I hate those %20 character replacements :-)

The "recovery" section starts here:

Although the switch options aren't explained therein, they make 2 valid points (although the 2nd one is erroneous):

1. MSBATCH.INF can be edited
2. The reason you must reinstall Windows from a hard drive is that PCRESTOR.BAT launches Setup from a WIN98 directory that's in the same drive as PCRESTOR.BAT:

      cd win98
      setup.exe c:\restore\msbatch.inf /is /id /iq /im /id /ie /IW

To start Setup from the CD-ROM: , you must modify the first two lines. For example, if you want to run Setup from the Windows 98 CD-ROM in drive D, modify the first two lines as follows:


*** NOTE: this is wrong.  having booted to a win98 boot floppy, the CD Rom Drive will be E:\  NOT  D:\.  The temporary %RamDrive% will be D:\

Here's an example of using MSBATCH.INF to extremes for an unattended installation:

It appears that they hace created this using MSBATCH where it automatically retrieves registry settings and adds them to the .inf file.  (explained here:

Although the above page seems to relate to Win95, much of this is common with Win98, including the undocumented setup.exe switches detailed in it:

/ID       Ignores the DIsk Space check
/IS       Ignores the routine System check
/IQ       Skips the test for cross-linked files
/IM       Skips the memory check
/IN       Runs setup without the Network Setup Module
/IW       Bypasses needing to read the License screen.
      (Needs to be upper case when run within Windows)
/IR       Bypasses CMOS check.
      (Useful for some combinations of motherboard and
      Award BIOS ver 4.50 P)
/D       Force Setup to ignore existing Windows configuration
      (eg. current Win.ini and System.ini files)
/N       Allows setup to run without a mouse
/IE       Skips prompt to make Boot Floppy (Win98 Only)
/IH       Skips the Registry Check (Win98 Only)
/IV       No billboards during setup (Win98 Only)
/NTLDR       Eliminates check for a previous Operating System
/P       Detection Switch Option String

Using a /P allows you to use an additional switch for viewing and setting some detection parameters. You can separate them with a semicolon (;).

For example /P g=3;i;p .

g=0 to 3
Controls how verbose the built-in progress bar is.
At maximum level (3), it shows all the resources of the detected devices along with the progress bar. This switch can help to identify which detection module causes a certain problem. The default is 0.
Enables Prompt Before mode. It prompts you before a detection module is called so that you can step through each detection module manually and decide if you want to skip it. The default is disabled.
Tells Setup not to report the existence of a Plug and Play BIOS. It is useful on systems that have a Plug and Play BIOS that is not reported in Machine.inf.
Enables performance logging. It writes performance timing information to the DETLOG.TXT file.The default is disabled.
Enables Clean Registry mode. It forces Detection to clean the root branch of the registry before starting. This switch is ignored when Setup is run in the Windows 95 graphical user interface (GUI). The default is disabled.

The following page also details some extra switches:

Some more useful information here:

The [Setup] parameters are as follows:

Express. Tells Setup whether to stop for user setup information. 0=do not stop for user input. 1=stop for user input.

InstallType. A value representing the installation type option (also called the Setup option). The installation type defines a collection of components that will be installed on your system. 0=Compact; 1=Typical; 2=Portable; 3=Custom.

See Chapter 1, "Deploying Windows 98," (

and Chapter 2 for more on Windows 98 installation types

For .INF file Syntax:

MSBATCH.INF Parameters:
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Expert Comment

ID: 9844421
[Setup] parameters in MSBATCH.INF:

Tells Setup whether to stop for user setup information.

0=do not stop for user input
1=stop for user input.

A value representing the installation type option (also called the Setup option). The installation type defines a collection of components that will be installed on your system.


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