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Windows 98 formatting with NTFS dilemna

Posted on 2003-11-25
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-12-29
Title:Win98 formatting nightmare

I am trying to reformat a 40gb hard drive but the win98 refuses to do so.   Says it has a Ntfs and needs dos partitioned, but fdisk says the partition is MS-dos.  What should I do?
Question by:GilliansmithHines
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Accepted Solution

_ earned 180 total points
ID: 9822670
Can you delete with FDISK using  NON-DOS partition?

Try the HD utility from the maker.
Get Your HD diag programs from here:

LVL 50

Assisted Solution

dbrunton earned 160 total points
ID: 9822833
Follow coral47's advice and use fdisk to delete ALL partiitions.

Then recreate one partiton and make it active.  Now try format again.

Expert Comment

ID: 9823315
Does your BIOS recognize the 40 GB disc or did you previously use a an extra HD driver to acces al 40 GB?
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Expert Comment

ID: 9824104
Hey GilliansmithHines,

I had this problem the other day....while trying to install 98.

Go with coral47: The FDISK thing works a treat. Just in case you don't know anything about FDISK:

it creates and deletes DOS partitions. It does not resize partitions.
You should use it with caution because it is destructive (ie you will lose all data on the disk)
To get/use FDISK:

Use a WIN98 startup disk to boot your computer
at the prompt (A:\) type fdisk

Something i have learnt while using FDISK:
Make sure you have selected the right hard drive before you proceed. Else you lose everything.

I find it pays to unplug the hard drive you DO NOT want to format, just in case. This also avoids problems you can encounter making your new partition active, as FDISK will only allow you to make a partition active on  hard disk one.

You don't, perchance, have XP installed on this machine too, do you? (just wondering for interests sake why you  have a NTFS disk on a 98 only machine.)


Expert Comment

ID: 9824118
"it creates and deletes DOS partitions. It does not resize partitions."

I should have written: does not resize *existing* partitions

because you can resize them when you first make them.

sorry.just felt the need to correct myself.

Expert Comment

ID: 9827560
FDISK can not be used on a NTFS formatted Harddrive. As suggested you can use the hard drive manufacturers utility to reformat and write zero's and you can use a Windows2000 or XP disc to reformat to FAT32.

Expert Comment

ID: 9828284
Bull, fdisk can be used on NTFS drives.  It shows up as non-dos, and can be deleted just fine.  I dunno what you guys are talking about.  =P  FDISK can do it all for ya, open it up and delete all visible partitions.  NTFS partitions show up as NON-DOS partitions, so you have to hit the "delete non-dos partition" for those partitions.  Am I missing something here...?  =P

Just boot off your Win98 CD, choose the DOS without CD-ROM support, type fdisk in the DOS prompt, then go through in the DOS fdisk and delete all the partitions.  Then, if you want Win98 again, boot off the CD again, choosing to install this time.  =P

 - Insolence
LVL 39

Assisted Solution

BillDL earned 160 total points
ID: 9831898

There's absolutely no necessity to run any "low level" formatting utilities in this case, unless of course there are other problems with the hard drive.

This standalone .HLP file will guide you:


or see an online FDISK Simulation:


The only time you need to do anything different, after deleting the non-DOS partition, is if you have a drive larger that 63 GB and want to see the true capacities reported when you are FDISK'ing the drive.  In that event, the updated FDISK from


can be installed on your system, or the actual file extracted from the self-extracting zip file and copied to your boot floppy if you need the file prior to installing Windows.

Here's my advice if you are planning to format as FAT32 and install Windows 98.  This option allows you to copy the necessary content from your installation CD onto a new partition of your hard drive, and install Windows from there.  Any time Windows would normally need to restore something or otherwise ask for a CD, it will just get the details from the folder on that partition instead:

Win98 and Win98 SE
Remove and recreate partitions with FDISK and
using a partition to copy Windows files into.

1.  Boot to Windows 98 boot floppy
2.  Type FDISK and say [Y] to "Large Disk Support"
3.  Option 3 Delete Partition or Logical DOS Drive
4.  Option 3 Delete Logical DOS Drive(s) in the Extended DOS Partition
5.  Select the drive letter for any Logical DOS Drive it identifies
5.  Wait for confirmation, then press <ESC>
6.  Do this until you are told "No logical drives defined"
7.  <ESC>
8.  Option 3 again Delete partition or Logical DOS Drive
9.  Option 2 Delete Extended DOS Partition
9.  Wait for confirmation and then press <ESC>
10. <ESC> back to main menu
11. Option 1  Delete Primary DOS Partition
12. "Primary Partition Deleted. Press Esc to continue"
    (Note, a Reboot may be advised at this stage)
13. Option 1 Create DOS partition or Logical DOS Drive
14. Option 1 Create Primary DOS Partition
15. "Do you wish to use the maximum available size for a Primary DOS
     Partition and make the partition active [N]
16. Get your calculator out (1 Mbyte = 1,048,576 bytes)
    You will need an absolute minimum of 173 MegaBytes (181,541,424 bytes)
    to accommodate the necessary files from the CD, so you need to calculate
    this as a percentage of your total hard drive, and then specify the
    remainder as a percentage of the whole drive.

    Example using a common hard drive size of 2.1 GigaBytes:

    1 GigaByte (GB)  = 1,024 MB
    2.1 GB           = 2,150 MB
    10 % of 2,150 MB =   215 MB (for new partition to contain files from CD)
    90 % of 2,150 MB = 1,935 MB (to Install Windows and all the applications)

17. You will see something like this (percentages and figures are examples):

    Total disk space is 2150 Mbytes (1 Mbyte = 1048576 bytes)
    Maximum space available for partition is 2150 Mbytes (100%)

    Enter partition size in Mbytes or percent of disk space (%) to
    create a Primary DOS Partition...: [     %]

18. Use the % field, and specify a % (90% using my above figures)
19. "Primary DOS Partition created.
     WARNING!  No partitions are set active -
     disk 1 is not startable unless a partition is set active"
20. <ESC>
21. Option 1 Create DOS partition or Logical DOS Drive
22. Option 2 Create Extended DOS Partition

    Create Extended DOS Partition
    Current fixed disk drive: 1

    Partition  Status   Type     Volume Label   Mbytes   System   Usage
    C: 1                PRI DOS                 1935     UNKNOWN  90%

Total disk space is   2150 Mbytes (1 Mbyte = 1048576 bytes)
Maximum space available for partition is  215 Mbytes (10%)

Enter partition size in Mbytes or percent of disk space (%) to
create an Extended DOS Partition....: [     10%]

23. You will now see something like:

    Partition  Status  Type     Volume Label  Mbytes  System    Usage
    C: 1               PRI DOS                1935    UNKNOWN   90%
       2               EXT DOS                215     UNKNOWN   10%

    Extended DOS Partition created

24. <ESC> to main menu
25. Option 1 again Create DOS partition or Logical DOS Drive
26. Option 3 Create Logical DOS Drive(s) in the Extended DOS Partition

    No logical drives defined

    Total Extended DOS Partition size is 215 Mbytes (1 Mbyte = 1048576 bytes)
    Maximum space available for logical drive is 215 Mbytes (100%)

    Enter logical drive size in Mbytes or percent of disk space (%)..[   ]

27. Enter 100% to create only one partition which will become your D:\ Drive.
    You want to have it take up the remainder of the disk, so you are setting
    it to 100% of the 215 MB.

    Drv    Volume Label Mbytes  System    Usage
    D:                  215     UNKNOWN   100%

   All available space in the Extended DOS Partition
   is assigned to logical drives.

28. <ESC> back to main menu
29. Option 2 Set active partition

    Current fixed disk drive: 1

    Partition  Status  Type      Volume Label  Mbytes  System   Usage
    C: 1               PRI DOS                 1935    UNKNOWN  90%
       2               EXT DOS                 215     UNKNOWN  10%

    Total disk space is 2150 Mbytes (1 Mbyte = 1048576 bytes)

    Enter the number of the partition you want to make active..: [ 1 ]

30. You will get a confirmation. Press <ESC> to the main menu
31. Option 4 Display partition information
    You should now see an "A" for Active under "C: 1   PRI DOS"
32. <ESC> repeatedly to exit FDISK and then power down
31. Boot again to the boot floppy with CD Rom Support.


    C:\ will now be your main system drive
    D:\ will now be the Logical DOS Drive
    E:\ will now be the temporary RAM Drive
    F:\ will now be your CD Rom

32. Issue the command FORMAT C:
33. When it finishes, issue the command FORMAT D:
34. When finished, power off and then boot to the floppy again
    (this STEP may not be necessary, but is good practice)
35. Go into FDISK again and select Option 4 Display partition information
    You should now see FAT32 under the "System" heading for each Drive.
36. <ESC> out of FDISK back to A:\>
37. With your CD Rom in the Drive, verify its existence with the command:
    DIR  /ad F:\

    You should see:

    .              <DIR>        16/01/03   5:14 .
    ..             <DIR>        16/01/03   5:14 ..
    CDSAMPLE       <DIR>        16/01/03   5:14 cdsample
    DRIVERS        <DIR>        16/01/03   5:18 drivers
    TOOLS          <DIR>        16/01/03   5:19 tools
    WIN98          <DIR>        16/01/03   5:19 win98
    ADD-ONS        <DIR>        16/01/03   5:21 add-ons

    NOTE: If you issue the command

    DIR  /p  /b  E:\

    instead of F:\ above  you will see the contents of the RamDrive:


38. Now issue the following commands to create a new folder on
    your new partition and then copy the required files from the
    CD into it:

    MD  E:\win98
    COPY  /V  F:\win98\*.*  E:\win98\*.*

    If you don't want to see the progress of the files being copied,
    leave out the /V (verify) switch.
    (You should see "101 files copied")

    Optionally, add some other DOS and windows tools to your new
    partition which you might need at some time:

    COPY  F:\tools\oldmsdos\*.*  E:\OLDMSDOS\*.*

39. When it finishes issue the following command:
    (copying will take a while depending on the speed of your CD)


40. Your installation will begin.

    Optionally, you can add the following "switches" to the command
    to streamline it (*** recommanded at this stage, others to
    address specific setup problems):

    E:\win98\SETUP.EXE  /ie  /is  /iv  /nr

    /ie            Skip the Startup Disk screen. ***
    /im            Skip the check for low conventional memory.
    /is            Do not run ScanDisk.
    /iv            Do not display billboards. ***
    /nr            Skips the registry check.
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Expert Comment

ID: 10075134
Points to coral47
LVL 32

Expert Comment

ID: 10077997
Good info here.   split.
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Expert Comment

ID: 10127216
Thank you much.    : )
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Expert Comment

ID: 10127303
Thank you even more  ;)

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