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reinstall win98

Posted on 2004-10-11
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-12-29
Formatted the hard drive, booted from floppy with cd support, entered D: at the A: prompt, put in my win98 cd and entered D:\setup and get error message saying drive is busy reading E: abort, retry, fail?  I also entered E: at the A: prompt and then E:\setup and get error message saying there is no E: drive.  It appears I'm in over my head and need help.
Question by:RE849
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Expert Comment

by:Aland Coons
ID: 12275739
Run FDISK again and examine the partitioning of your hard drive.  It sounds like you may have formatted C: but need to actually need to eliminate it (and E:\) in order to have an empty and non-partitioned hard drive. Windows Setup will both partition and format your hard drive if you can make sure it is completely empty.

Author Comment

ID: 12276383
I didn't run FDISK when I did the format, I formatted from the floppy by putting in "format C:" at  the A: prompt.  Can I run FDISK from the floppy, it's the only drive the computer will run on at this time?  What if the floppy doesn't have the drivers to run my cd?
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Expert Comment

by:Aland Coons
ID: 12276604
Yes, you can install from the floppy. Yes, you can run FDISK from your floppy (copy it from another computer). Yes, you can also copy your drivers to the CD and call them from the CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT on A:\.  In fact this is a VERY good thing to have for an emergency backup/restore disk.  I have one such disk with dozens of standard mode drivers (from SONY, HITACHI, etc.) that will let me boot load just about any CDROM that exists. If you get into a pinch I can email you a copy of the files and you can put them on a floppy. Send email to
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Expert Comment

by:☠ MASQ ☠
ID: 12280330
Or download and create a bootdisk for your operating system from, the cd drivers cover most eventualities but you need to remember that the disk sets up a RAMDrive at D: and the CDs are often allocated obscure letters such as S:  Watch the display as the PC boots to discover which letter has been allocated.
LVL 39

Expert Comment

ID: 12285571

I think the initial errors you saw were to be expected and have a simple explanation.
Given the order of events you described, here's what I think happened:

1. Changed directory to the D:\ Drive
2. THEN put in the Windows CD
3. THEN issued the setup command telling it to look on D:\

It sounds like the system was still hunting for a non-existent CD in the D:\ drive when you inserted the CD in the E:\ Drive.

I'm not sure if you are aware of this, but the autoexec.bat file of a standard Win98 boot floppy declares certain "PATHS" that are then automatically looked at if you type any command without specifying the full path eg. D:\Setup.exe.

Firstly, the autoexec.bat file tries to establish the drive letters of your "Fixed Drives" (Hard Drive(s) and any extra partitions on that/those drive(s)).  Once established, it then calls another file named setramd.bat to create a "virtual drive" on your main hard disk which it will thereafter refer to as %RAMD%.  This drive letter is always the next available drive letter after the last Fixed Drive.

The purpose of this "Ram Drive" (%RAMD%) is so that the files contained in a compressed .CAB file named EBD.CAB on your boot floppy can be unpacked into that "Virtual Drive" where they can be called into use without specifying where they are located.

What this means is that your CD-Rom Drive will be allocated a letter that comes AFTER the one allocated to the temporary %RAMD%

The drive letter is returned to autoexec.bat (from the process in "setramd.bat") as what is referred to as a "variable".  This is simply a name that is applied to something stored in memory, and which can be referred to again and again by the name of that variable.  %RAMD% is such a variable name.

In this case, the letter of your CD-Rom Drive is given the variable name of %CDROM% and the temporary virtual drive containing the files unpacked from the floppy is given the variable name %RAMD%.

The file autoexec.bat declares "PATHS" to each of these variables using the line:


So, from that point onwards, when any command is given that calls a program file in ANY of those "paths", it will be looked for in the Temporary Virtual Drive, the Floppy Disk, and also on the CD-Rom.

By simply typing the command SETUP, all 3 of those "paths" would theoretically be looked at to see if such a file (setup.exe) existed.  It doesn't exist on a Win98 boot floppy, and isn't unpacked to the RamDrive, so it SHOULD be found on the CD if it is inserted in the Drive for which the drive letter has been given the variable name %CDROM%.  The problem is that the %CDROM% varaible name doesn't persist, whereas %RAMD% does.

Going back to what I think happened to you, I believe that by inserting the CD AFTER issuing the command D:\Setup, there was a delay while it looked in your Floppy Disk and then the "Ram Drive" unsuccessfully for the setup.exe file, your Windows CD was just going in and spinning up for a second, but wasn't ready to have the contents read yet. Hence the "drive is busy reading E: abort, retry, fail?" message.

I don't know which option you selected (a, r, or f), but I have a feeling that this might have then messed with the process whereby your CD-Rom Drive was thereafter not seen properly.

I suggest that, rather than immediately jumping in to the suggestion of running FDISK or reformatting, you try again by booting afresh to your Win98 boot floppy with CD-Rom Support and try to ascertain first what drive letter your CD-Rom has been allocated.

As mentioned earlier, the cluse are shown on screen if you watch it booting to the floppy:

Microsoft RAMDrive Virtual Disk  D:

Preparing to start.....

Diagnostics tools loaded to drive D:
(this refers to the files unpacked from the floppy disk into the temporary %RAMD%.

Drive E: = Driver MSCD001 Unit 0
Drive F: = Driver MSCD001 Unit 1

This refers to the MSDOS CD-Rom Driver being loaded from the temporary %RAMD% and identifying the CD-Rom Drive and CD-RW Drive as CD-Rom Drives from which any CD can now be accessed.


remember that the above drive letters may be different on your system, but if you have a hard drive comprising a single partition, AND have a proper Win98 boot floppy, then it is most likely that the %RAMD% will be D:\ and your CD-Rom Drive will have been pushed up to the letter E:\.

OK, so you now know your CD-Rom's Drive letter.

INSERT THE WINDOWS CD NOW and let it stop spinning, which it will probably do for a couple of seconds.

To make certain of the drive letters, you can type the following command before running setup:


This should show something like:


Remember the "path" statement in autoexec.bat? (path=%RAMD%:\;a:\;%CDROM%:\)
That's what you are seeing, in that same order.

Now type the following command to verify that the contents of the CD can be seen:

DIR  /ad  E:\

You should see the following:

 Volume in drive G is Win98 SE
 Volume Serial Number is ????-????
 Directory of E:\

ADD-ONS        <DIR>        23/04/99  22:22 add-ons
CDSAMPLE       <DIR>        23/04/99  22:22 cdsample
DRIVERS        <DIR>        23/04/99  22:22 drivers
TOOLS          <DIR>        23/04/99  22:22 tools
WIN98          <DIR>        23/04/99  22:22 win98
         0 file(s)              0 bytes
         5 dir(s)               0 bytes free

Now just type the command:


Hopefully SETUP should run successfully.

Sorry if this is a bit long-winded and simplistic, but you did say earlier that you thought you were now out of your depth.

IF you feel that you might not have a genuine Win98 boot floppy, here's a download that (when double-clicked on a functional computer with a blank floppy inserted) will create an exact copy of the Win98SE boot floppy:


Author Comment

ID: 12285713
Thanks to everyone for all the info,  this is a much needed website.  Bill, your answer was quite long and I think I understood all of it just don't ask me to repeat it.
When my boot disk gets to the point of  showing the drive letters on MSCDEX mine has no letter before  MSCD001, I guess that means the boot disk hasn't read the drivers on the cd?  I will be making a new boot disk this evening from the links that you provided but first I will try everything again but instead of entering "D:\setup" I will enter "E:\win98\setup".
Thanks again.
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Expert Comment

ID: 12285763
And, RE849, just to clarify some points made by alandc.

You DID say in your question that you had booted to a floppy WITH CD-Rom Support after FORMATTING the drive.  NO mention of FDISK, but you didn't say whether it was a Windows 98 one or not.

FDISKing your hard drive means that you are completely removing the actual structure from the drive that allows it to hold one or more "Partitions".

A valid partition is a pre-requisite to being able to FORMAT the drive, because without a partition, there is no structure to hold it.  Partitioning a drive creates a Master Boot Record and Partition Table so that your computer knows that the drive is capable of being formatted and therefore holding data.

FAT32 refers to the filing method that Windows 98 uses. A File Allocation Table is really an index to each chunk of space on the drive so that once files are placed on it, Windows knows where to find them.

The Windows 98 Boot Floppy looks for a valid Partition and will tell you if the drive is not partitioned.  It will NOT see the hard drive as the C:\ Drive UNTIL it has been partitioned, and then Formatted, but IS capable of creating a Virtual "drive" on it before this has been done.

Furthermore, Windows should only install to a partition that has been created as a Primary DOS Partition that has also been made "Active".  This is done in FDISK BEFORE formatting it.

As you stated, you had booted to a boot floppy, but we weren't sure if this was a genuine Win98 boot floppy.  Had this been ascertained, then it would be clear that you would not have to start copying FDISK, autoexec.bat or config.sys from another computer.

You asked whether FDISK could be run from the floppy.  A proper Win98 boot floppy has FDISK.EXE right on it and stays there.  The FORMAT command is made available because FORMAT.COM is one of the files unpacked from the floppy into the temporary RamDrive, and can thus be called without specifying a drive or path to it.

Just as a point of note, I have yet to find a CD-Rom for which the CD-Rom drivers on a Windows 98 boot floppy did not work.  I reckon this must work out at somewhere around 350 installs on different computers.  I know there are the odd occasions where you may have to download a specific DOS CD-Rom driver to put on your boot floppy, but I haven't had to do so before.

In case you wonder why I am so pedantic about using a "proper" win98 boot floppy, it's because I have tried a lot of independently created ones hailed as the "Ultimate Boot Floppy", etc, and about half of them didn't work.  A notable % of the other ones did just as MASQUERAID stated earlier:  "CDs are often allocated obscure letters such as S:  ".
That's why I advocate using a proper win98 boot floppy to install Windows 98.
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Expert Comment

ID: 12285818
Sorry, I missed your feedback there RE849.  Well, it seems that perhaps you have a damaged floppy maybe with corrupt or damaged files, or it isn't a full Win98 one.  You possibly also have one of those elusive CD-Rom drives that have thankfully eluded me through all the installs over the years.

Let us know if the boot floppy created from the download fails to work, and perhaps provide the make and model of your CD-Rom Drive in this event.  That would allow us to find a suitable driver file and advise you how to make a small change to the config.sys file on the floppy so that it would load the additional driver file.

Don't panic, it's just a case of copying the new driver to the floppy (deleting one of the others if necessary to make room for it), and then adding or changing one of the following lines in notepad to reflect the file name of the new driver file:

device=oakcdrom.sys /D:mscd001
device=btcdrom.sys /D:mscd001
device=aspicd.sys /D:mscd001

We'll hear from you soon then.
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Expert Comment

by:Aland Coons
ID: 12286728
Bill is right.  Using a standard Win98 boot disk is the best way (if it works for your CDROM).
I have found at least a couple where it didn't but that's just because I have worked on some really old and crappy systems.

There does seem to be some confusing with my suggestion that you run FDISK however. I'm not suggesting that you manually create the partions but instead use FDISK to remove EVERYTHING from the hard drive and let windows do it's own setup. The 98 setup floppy should get your initial boot and CDROM support and the setup routines on the CD should take your EMPTY disk and partition and format everything necessary quite nicely.
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Expert Comment

ID: 12288713
Sorry for stepping on any toes there.  I just had a feeling that RE849 (kind of impersonal name that - just a number :-) may have got that panicky feeling, as we have all had from time to time, and that a step-by-step clarification was maybe the best thing for reassurance at the time.

Remember that feeling?  Blank hard drive and no operating system - Help!

Maybe I like my old boot floppies a bit too much, but I hate fiddling around with a bootable Windows 98 CD only to find that the CD doesn't seem to be bootable any more, or that the BIOS doesn't support it.

Author Comment

ID: 12296578
Good Morning,
Still no luck in getting the computer up and running, I'm not in a panic though, it's a Packard Bell about four years old and I am trying to get it going for someone who needs it.
I did try twice to download the win98 boot disk last night, first from the link you provided and then from, neither one worked though, got the message "invalid system disk" each time I put them in.  I'm thinking I didn't get the whole download on the floppy although the download said it was done and I opened up the A: drive and could see win98se on there.  The boot disk I have seems to work fine but I'm missing something as each time I try to run setup I get the "not ready reading drive E, abort, retry, fail?
I entered "set" at the A: prompt last night and just like Bill said all the stuff was there, I could see the path;  A:, D:, E:  I got back to the A: prompt and entered D:, got the D: prompt and put in the win98 cd, waited a minute then entered E:\win98\setup and get the same message as above.  All the hardware in the computer is original so there should be no surprises there.  I will get all the info I can for that computer and try to install a new driver for the cd.                                                Thanks again, Roger

Author Comment

ID: 12299869
I appreciate all the good answers to my question although none of them worked, I'm still getting the same error message.  I'm new to this site and not sure what to do at this point; increase the points or close the question.  I will contact a moderator for advice.
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Expert Comment

ID: 12300869
Roger, the downloads quoted are files that should be run from within Windows and will create a boot disk from a blank floppy in your floppy drive.  They are NOT intended to be copied to a floppy disk as .exe or .zip files.

Download again to a functional computer running windows
Put a blank floppy in the floppy drive
Double-click the file boot98se.exe
You will be prompted to insert a blank floppy, click "OK"
You will see a pink % progress bar in a "writing disk" dialog
When it finishes, it will prompt for another floppy if you want another one
Otherwise, just "cancel" and your new boot floppy is ready for use.

It certainly sounds like the boot floppy you have does not have a driver file that is compatible with your CD-Rom Drive.

What is the model number of the computer, and is the CD-Rom Drive the original one?
It might help also to know the make and model of the CD-Rom drive, because manufacturers sometimes use different hardware for different countries, and also can change midway through production runs.

Once we have these details, then I'm sure we'll get a driver that allows you to access the cd-rom drive.


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Expert Comment

ID: 12301387
Weere you able to determine if you can actually SEE the folders on the Windows CD?

Using your existing boot floppy (or a new one using the above instructions), just boot to it and enter the command:

DIR  /ad  E:\

You don't have to move from the A:\> prompt to do this.

If you see nothing, are shown an error, or it shows any other contents, then change this to:

DIR  /ad  F:\

and so on, until you can determine the drive letter of the CD-Rom Drive.

Some HP, Compaq, and Packard Bell computers that came with a "recovery CD" have an extra "Backup" Partition holding the Windows installation files.  The recovery CD only provided the means to install Windows from the partition.

IF such a partition DOES exist on your hard drive, then this is what was briefly mentioned by alandc when he mentioned wiping all partitions with FDISK and creating one partition.  Fixed hard Drives, icluding partitions (referred to as "logical drives") will always be allocated the letters C, D, etc for as many partitions there are.  A windows boot floppy would then allocate the next letter to that temporary virtual "RamDrive" it creates.  Your CD-Rom, and CD-RW Drives would then be allocated the next letters.

There is a strong possibility from what you are describing, that your hard drive DOES have such a partition that still contains the setup files for installing Windows, and that you have formatted the "system partition" (C:\ Drive) without affecting that backup partition.

There is also a likelihood that there is NO setup.exe file amongst those installation files if, as I mentioned, the recovery CD contains the setup.exe and directs the install process to seek the files in that backup partition.

I suggest that you should determine this before going any further.

Boot to your current boot floppy, or the new one if you have managed to create it, and type the following command:


You will most likely see the following message:

Your computer has a disk larger than 512 MB. This version of Windows
includes improved support for large disks, resulting in more efficient
use of disk space on large drives, and allowing disks over 2 GB to be
formatted as a single drive.

IMPORTANT: If you enable large disk support and create any new drives on this
disk, you will not be able to access the new drive(s) using other operating
systems, including some versions of Windows 95 and Windows NT, as well as
earlier versions of Windows and MS-DOS. In addition, disk utilities that
were not designed explicitly for the FAT32 file system will not be able
to work with this disk. If you need to access this disk with other operating
systems or older disk utilities, do not enable large drive support.

Do you wish to enable large disk support (Y/N)...........? [Y]

Make sure that [Y] is selected, and press the <enter> key.

You should now see the following menu:

    Current fixed disk drive: 1

    Choose one of the following:

    1. Create DOS partition or Logical DOS Drive
    2. Set active partition
    3. Delete partition or Logical DOS Drive
    4. Display partition information

    Enter choice: [4]

Choose the option to DISPLAY PARTITION INFORMATION ONLY, and press <enter>

IF you have only ONE partition that has been formatted correctly as a Primary DOS Partition, and is "Active", then you will see this:

Partition  Status   Type    Volume Label  Mbytes   System   Usage
C: 1         A           PRI DOS                      ?????      FAT32    100%

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

IF, however, your hard drive has been split into more than one partition, you would see something like this:

Partition  Status   Type    Volume Label  Mbytes   System   Usage
C: 1         A           PRI DOS                      ?????      FAT32    100%
   2                        EXT DOS                     ?????                    100%

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

The Extended DOS Partition contains Logical DOS Drives.
Do you want to display the logical drive information (Y/N)..?[Y]

In this event, select [Y] and it would then provide details of however many "Logical Drives" exist on the "Extended DOS Partition".  Something like this would tell you if there is such a "Backup" partition:

Display Logical DOS Drive Information

Drv Volume Label  Mbytes  System  Usage
D:                          ?????    FAT32     100%

IF this IS the case, then you have 2 options.

1. Keep this partition and use it for your own purposes after you install Windows
2. Use FDISK to remove ALL partitions and then create one single partition

Option 1 is a handy thing to have, because it means that you can keep it to back up data so that you can format the C:\ Drive at any time without affecting the backed up data.  You can also instruct your system to move the "My Documents" folder onto the partition so that you don't lose all your documents.  An option I use, is to copy the "win98" folder from my Windows CD into the partition in DOS and install Windows  from there, OR copy the folder contents after installing Windows, and just change the registry to reflect this new "Install Source" location.  I like having an extra partition to store installer files for all my installed programs, and this saves me from rummaging for CD's.

Option 2 requires some knowledge that would be better kept until you know for certain if you DO have an extra partition on your hard drive, and exactly what it contains.

The DOS command
DIR  /ad  E:\
is using the /ad option to display ONLY folders.

If a backup partition DOES exist, it may not have any individual folders on it.  To see the contents, a page at a time, use the following DOS command:

DIR  /on  /b  /p  E:\*.*

This would help you identify file names if it comes to this.

The packard Bell support site is unlikely to have DOS CD-Rom drivers for the make and model of the CD-Rom because their Rescue CD's are bootable in the systems thay were supplied with.  let us know the make and model, and we can help you find a driver for your boot floppy.
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Expert Comment

by:Aland Coons
ID: 12301400
I nominate Bill for longest answer.  :)
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Expert Comment

ID: 12301412
I suggest selecting the text in any of the comments that you might need to refer to above, and then print them using the option to "Print Selection".  Alternatively, select the text and Copy (Ctrl + C), then paste (Ctrl + V) into Word or Wordpad to format neatly and print out.
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Expert Comment

ID: 12301504
Whoops, spoke too soon.  Here's a list of drivers for named CD-Rom devices:

Perhaps your CD-Rom will be amongst them.

MS-DOS CD-Rom drivers for Panasonic CR56x
MS-DOS CD-Rom driver for Matsushita (Panasonic) CR57x CR581
Installation Disk for NEC CDR-27x CD-Rom Device
Installation Disk for PHILIPS CM207 CD-ROM device drivers

I will download these and see if I can extract the necessary drivers to place on your boot floppy.
LVL 39

Expert Comment

ID: 12302433
>>> I nominate Bill for longest answer.  :)  <<<

I'm not finished yet  ;-)

Here's a suggestion that MIGHT load the correct DOS CD-Rom drivers BUT ONLY IF you have either a Panasonic (Matsushita) CR56x, CR57x, or CR581 CD-Rom Drive (or perhaps a similar model).

1. Download my file "BootFloppy_CDROM_Drivers.exe" from this link and save it anywhere on a functional Windows PC.

2. Make a copy of the boot floppy you have been using.  Label it "custom" and leave it in the floppy disk drive.

3. Double-Click on "BootFloppy_CDROM_Drivers.exe".

- It should now show that it will unpack the contents of the file to the A:\ Drive, and overwrite files without prompting.  Just click the "UNZIP" button.
- It should then ask you for a password
- Enter MY Experts-Exchange username.  It is case-sensitive (BillDL).
- The progress meter will tell you when extraction is complete, and you will hear that the floppy disk activity has ceased.  Just close the WinZip interface dialog.
- The file config.sys has been overwritten, and 2 driver files added to the floppy, namely CDMKE.SYS and CR_ATAPI.SYS.

When booting to this floppy disk, it will try to load those drivers first.  If the first one is not compatible, you will see the following on screen:
Blah, Blah...Matsushita-Kotobuki... Blah, Blah

Interface board or CD-Rom drive is not ready.

Insure that the drive power is on and drive
cables correctly attached.

<A>bort or <R>etry

Just hit the "A" key, and it will then show the following message and try to load the next driver:

"CD-Rom device driver was not installed".

All going well, IF you have a compatibe CD-Rom Drive, one of these will load.  If not, then it will fall through to the generic (and apparently incompatible) drivers that it presumably loaded prior to this.

If this is the end result, then another plan is needed to get the right drivers or ascertain what is happening.


Expert Comment

ID: 12303775
without going through the voluminous preceeding answers, you said that the C: drive is the only one capable of loading windows.Do you have other drives, if so the cd/rom will be assigned the letter following those, in which case if could be F, or G. The letter is shown after the cd drivers are loaded. It should state that the Cd drive has been assigned letter ??.
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Expert Comment

ID: 12304610
Phoenix.  What's the sense in posting a comment that addresses exactly what has been stated in the "voluminous preceding answers" ?

I recognise that your well intentioned comment is intended to "cut to the chase" and summarise the whole scenario into a nutshell, but had you read the question/comments/feedback fully, you would be aware that any of the following could be true, and we now await some clarifications that will allow for further suggestions as appropriate:

1. The boot floppy is damaged or has corrupt files (not known)
2. There may be a 2nd partition that hasn't yet been identified (awaiting result of FDISK)
3. The boot floppy may not have suitable dos cd-rom drivers (awaiting model number)

I would love to be able to scoot around dropping in on, and summarising question content, but it doesn't work like that.

Author Comment

ID: 12307367
Thanks Bill,  I was downloading from the links directly to the floppy, I will now download to windows on this computer and then unzip to a floppy for another try.  I can see the name ATAPI when the boot disk is loading so if the new boot disk doesn't work I will get the drivers you suggested and try again.  I did run FDISK a few days ago and I did answer yes to keep large disk support, after that I entered to create DOS partition (I think), I will  go back and see what I have. Thanks again for all the info.                   Roger

Expert Comment

ID: 12307670
1. If so, then the notice on booting would be that cd drive was not installed, the same for #3, unless he acually did not select install with cde/rom drivers.
2. Logical partitions will be installed after any physical drives therefore in a one disc system C: would be hard drive, D: would be ramdrive, E; would be the cd/rom and F:, etc, would be any additional partitions. The average "customer" wants a solution, not a treatise.
LVL 39

Expert Comment

ID: 12307717

Perhaps you will be able to track exactly what it was that you did when in FDISK by downloading the following .zip file and unzipping it to a single standalone .HLP file that gives a fair approximation of the menu options and the stages that would be available from them.

Another offline HTML version here:

Printable Adobe Acrobat Version:

Alternatively, there are some online FDISK Simulations:

Online Pages of instruction: (screenshots) (no screenshots) (no screenshots)

IF you HAVE actually ended up wiping the existing partition(s) and creating a new one, then there are 2 absolute necessities

1. The partition HAS to be a "Primary DOS" FAT32 one and has to be made "active"
2. You MUST reboot after creating a partition and THEN format it.

Let us know, as a matter of importance before continuing, exactly what FDISK says about your hard drive when you use the "Display Partition Information" menu option.

Author Comment

ID: 12310099
Hello, I just ran  FDISK and my hard drive is C: 1,  Status-A, type-primary dos, mbytes-3052, FAT32, 100%
I did create a couple new boot disk, one with the extra cd-rom drivers but unfortunately the drivers didn't work although the cd-rom driver on the boot disk for ATAPI was up to the year 1995 and the driver that the computer is using(or says it is) is also for ATAPI but goes to the year 1997.
I did try to run  DIR /ad E:\  but got the same error message "not ready reading drive E: abort,retry,fail?"
I also ran the "SET" command again but the readout I get is nothing like the one you described; RAMD=D
what I'm getting is;
Cmdline=D:\mscdex.exe /D:mscd001 /L:E

Thank You
LVL 39

Expert Comment

ID: 12316264
Thank you, RE849.  Here's what that has confirmed, starting with the SET command results:

The menu displayed by booting to the floppy comes from the file config.sys.  When you choose the options, they are equivalent to:
CD= "Boot with CD-Rom Support"
NOCD= "Boot with no CD-Rom Support"
HELP=View the help file.
So the setting you see above tells you that you have booted with CD-Rom Support.

Is just setting the standard DOS Prompt.  You could, if you wanted to, change this to show something else as a prompt.  That is the default one.

When using the DIR command (as you have been doing), it will automatically sort the resultant list by name.  Just the same as typing  DIR /on.

This is the drive letter returned after other associated system files have worked out where the temporary files should be unpacked to.

Temp and Tmp are just setting up those directories as your Temporary folder.

The PATH line has declared your A, D, and E drives as known drives so that, when a command is issued calling a file, then those drives will be looked at to see if the file is in those drives.  They should be, respectively: Floppy, RamDrive, CD-Rom Drive.

The core of the DOS Operating system is the program file.  This line establishes that it has been correctly unpacked from the floppy to the RamDrive (D:) so it will be accessed from there to process commands issued.

Cmdline=D:\mscdex.exe /D:mscd001 /L:E
The file mscdex.exe handles access to the CD-Rom after the appropriate drivers have been loaded.  It too was unpacked from the Floppy into the RamDrive, hence the path to it declared as D:\mscdex.exe.
The second D:\mscd001 is just a method of declaring a name by which to refer to the cd-rom driver.  It has to be the same as set in the config.sys file.  You will recall the lines I quoted earlier, eg. device=oakcdrom.sys /D:mscd001.  So that's OK.
The /L:E establishes that the CD-Rom Drive letter has been assigned as E:

So far that is perfect.
The option you selected from the floppy's boot menu has been recognised correctly.
The floppy has functioned as intended, and has set the CD-Rom Drive letter as E:\ and appears to have unpacked all the required files into its temporary "drive" for use.

There is NO logical reason that your CD-Rom cannot be accessed.

If the hard drive hadn't been partitioned properly, the process would have halted and you would have been told to do so.

This is further confirmed by your results with FDISK.  That's EXACTLY what I was looking for, ie. An "active" Primary DOS Partition which has been formatted correctly as FAT32 to its full capacity.  The fact that it did not prompt you to view information about "logical drives" on an "extended partition" tells us that the C:\ Drive is the ONLY partition on your hard drive.

As you discovered, incompatible DOS CD-Rom drivers failed to load, but we assume that one has eventually loaded.  So WHY aren't any of the commands allowing access to the data on your Windows CD?

The only logical explanations I have are:

1. Despite the DOS CD-Rom Driver being recognised as OK, your CD-Rom requires a very specific driver
2. Your Windows CD is damaged so that, although your commands are finding the "Drive", they aren't recognising the CD as a valid media type
3. There is some internal damage to your actual CD-Rom DRIVE that is preventing it from reading data on a valid and undamaged CD.

We MUST know the make and model of your CD-Rom Drive in order to eliminate this by finding the specific driver for it.

Meantime, the only other suggestion I have is to test whether the Windows CD can be accessed on another computer.  If testing this in Windows, hold down the SHIFT key to stop it autorunning.

If you have access to another CD-Rom Drive, then you could swap the ribbon cable coming from your motherboard over onto the other drive and also the power supply plug.  You would have to make sure that the small "jumper" over the pins on the back of the drive were set the same as the one you have in it at the moment.  What I mean is, set as "Master" , "Slave" or "CLS" (Cable select as preferred by many compaq computers).


Author Comment

ID: 12317787
Good Morning,
I will now try to find another recovery cd for that computer.  I'm pretty sure the cd-rom drive is okay, so that would leave the cd itself.  I have learned quite a bit more about computers over the last few days and would like to thank Bill and everyone else for your input.  I will leave this question open for a while just in case.                                             Roger
LVL 39

Accepted Solution

BillDL earned 500 total points
ID: 12325813
Hello Roger.

I immediately notice a problem in your staement above where you said:

>>> "I will now try to find another recovery cd for that computer" <<<

Perhaps this is OUR fault for failing to establish with certainty right at the outset whether the CD-Rom, that you have referred to from the start as "my win98 cd", is an OEM "Recovery CD" or a FULL version (OEM or Retail).

OEM refers to "Original Equipment Manufacturer" and there are 2 distinct types of Windows CD's that manufacturers pack with the computer:

1. A FULL version like a retail version, but "branded" and tailored to THAT computer
2. A "Recovery CD" that is a means to RESTORE your computer system again.

I mentioned this very much earlier on when I said:

"Some HP, Compaq, and Packard Bell computers that came with a "recovery CD" have an extra "Backup" Partition holding the Windows installation files.  The recovery CD only provided the means to install Windows from the partition.

There is also a likelihood that there is NO setup.exe file amongst those installation files if, as I mentioned, the recovery CD contains the setup.exe and directs the install process to seek the files in that backup partition".

Unfortunately I didn't pursue this angle, but the absence of feedback specifically establishing that as a possibility led me to the conclusion that your CD must be a full version.  I was still hopeful that we could gain access to the contents of the CD and do a DIR listing to show the contents.

Going way back to the start of the question, you responded to alandc's FDISK suggestion saying that you had only FORMATTED and hadn't used FDISK.  That was on 11th October, and allayed my initial fears that you may have accidentally created or removed required partition information.

I got a surprise, however, when you stated on 14th October:

"I did run FDISK a few days ago and I did answer yes to keep large disk support, after that I entered to create DOS partition (I think)".

Damn.  That bit gave me a start and I wondered just what you might have done, and whether this might compond the problem.  Once again, however, my fears were dismissed when you confirmed that FDISK was reporting a valid Active and formatted primary DOS Partition.

This final statement about finding "ANOTHER RECOVERY CD" sends an ominous chill down my spine.  Is it definitely a RECOVERY CD?  I mean, does it say this on the CD, or have you always understood it to be a recovery CD and perhaps used it to recover your system?

IF SO, then I am pretty sure that I am right in saying that there is a good chance that your system originally had another partition on that hard drive containing files that would be necessary to repair and reinstall Windows.  Without that partition, the recovery cd MAY NOT work as intended, and my fear here is that you SEEM to have obliterated that partition by "creating a DOS partition" from FDISK.

I may be wrong, and perhaps the setup files COULD have been in a folder on the one and only partition on the drive.  IF SO, then that data is now gone after a format anyway.

IF your cd IS a recovery cd rather than a full version, then the GOOD NEWS is that recovery CD's are intended to be bootable and booting to the CD MAY allow a complete reinstall as part of a FULL system recovery.

At this stage, here's my suggestion:

Place your CD in the CD-Rom drive while the computer is powered up.  This can be after booting to a floppy.

Power off and leave it powered off for a couple of minutes.

Power on again without any floppy disk in the drive.

DOES it do anything?  We would be looking for a light on your CD-Rom Drive and probably also the sound of it spinning up.  You would probably see some sort of options menu, or some screen activity right at the start of the boot process that differs from your normal screen display.

If there is no activity and this results in an error message that there is no operating system installed, then you will have to change the order that your BIOS looks for bootable drives.

Ascertain from any technical documents that may have come with the computer what key (or combination of keys) you have to press to access the "CMOS SETUP" (sometimes referred to as the "BIOS" Setup).

Common ones used are ESC, DEL, F1, F2, F10, INS (insert), CTRL+Alt+ENTER, and various others listed here.  It all depends on the make of your BIOS Chip.  Often you will see this shown at the very start as you power up, but sometimes the monitor is still warming up or it flashes by too quickly.  Something like SETUP=F2 might show in one of the corners of the screen.

You will know if you have caught it, because the screen will enter a display something like this:

Some newer CMOS Setup screens allow use of the mouse, but generally it will be a series of "tabbed" sections that you have to navigate using keyboard keys.  You will usually see this indicated somewhere on the screen, but the common usage is:

<Enter> - normally used to SELECT a menu or sub-area.
<Arrow Up, Down, left, Right> - normally used to MOVE BETWEEN settings
<Page Up , Down> or <+ , -> - normally used for modifying the current setting (ie. scrolling through available options)
<Tab> - sometimes used to move between sections or settings.
<Esc> - normally used to move up the menu hierarchy a level at a time and ultimately may be the "EXIT" key.

There will ALWAYS be a way of exiting WITHOUT changing anything, so this should be the first thing you establish.  Often this is one of the "F" keys.

OK, so what you are looking for is the setting to change the "Boot Order".  If you look at this example from a typical AWARD BIOS screen under the "Advanced tab", you will see the 3 mentioned as "First boot Device", "2nd Boot Device", "3rd Boot Device", and "Boot Other Device".

For that CMSO setup display, you would probably arrown down to the one you wanted to change, and then use the + or - (or page Up and Down) to cycle through the options.

What you want to do is set "ATAPI CD-Rom" 9or similar) as the 1st, then "Floppy", then Hard Drive" (IDE or HDD-0 would mean the Primary master hard drive where 2 hard drives exist).

Once set, press the relevant key to "Exit and Save Changes" and you may see another confirmation like this

If you are unsure, press the key to "Exit and Discard Changes" and you may see a 2nd confirmation like this

Assuming the CD is still in the drive, the computer will now try and boot again, but will look for the presence of a bootable CD-Rom this time before it gets to the floppy, and then the hard drive.

I notice from this page of miscellaneous Packard Bell utilities, that there is a chance that the recovery CD can only be accessed by booting to a specific boot floppy that would then access the CD and run the recovery process.  I can't be certain, because you haven't yet furnished us with any other details about the affected computer apart from "it's a Packard Bell about four years old".  We still don't know the model number of the CD-Rom Drive.

Click on many of the links on this page:

and you will see that the details of the download are very specific to the version of recovery CD, eg. "This is the Master/Restore CD Boot Floppy Disk for systems that are shipped with Master/Restore CDs 676791xxxx and 676792xxxx".

We can only proceed if you can please tell us the following:

1. Model No. of the computer
2. Model No. of CD-Rom Drive
3. Full Retail, Full OEM, or Recovery Windows 98 CD?
4. If "recovery", what version or release numbers are shown on the face of the CD?

I look forward to your feedback, and then we can hopefully resolve this issue successfully.

I just wish I had taken a moment to verify details about that "win98 CD" earlier on.

LVL 39

Expert Comment

ID: 12325819
Sorry about the gap left for a url to show you a typical CMOS Setup Screen.  The links later show what I was looking for.

Author Comment

ID: 12327271
Good Morning,
I'm sitting here watching the recovery cd do it's thing reinstalling all the factory defaults and win98.  I did as you suggested, removed the floppy and booted to the cd.  I don't know why it didn't work but I had done that a couple days ago, no matter, you went the extra mile for me and I really appreciate it.  I'm glad you figured it out because I had no paperwork or manuals for that computer, I had to borrow the recovery cd from someone with a similar computer.  I guess all I do at this point is click the accept button and wish you a great day, it's not enough though, people don't go the extra mile to much anymore and I would like to do more.   Well, the setup is almost complete and everything is looking good, lots of stuff that I'll have fun updating.         Thanks again Bill, have a great day.
LVL 39

Expert Comment

ID: 12330496
You're welcome, Roger.  I just wish I had latched onto the recovery CD possibility earlier, or at least verified this.  The clues were on some of the Packard Bell Download pages where I began to notice that there were files to create boot floppies from which to access recovery cd's where a computer presumably doesn't allow booting from CD.

I don't know if you are interested, but I discovered a site that purports to explain how to create a full install CD from a recovery CD so that you can then add all the updated drivers and hopefully install without all the "factory Defaults" and packard Bell "branding".

As you were fixing this for someone you know, I would encourage that person to go to some of the link areas on the Packard Bell site and obtain as much detail about the computer as possible.

Extra things for YOU in future break/fix scenario's

A great utility for obtaining details about hardware and settings is the utility known as Everest.  The "Home Edition" is freeware.  It allows you to produce reports in a variety of formats including or excluding information to suit the needs.

Download Links: (installer file)
or (all files - can run as standalone)

If using the .zip file version to run the utility as a standalone program, you can also do this from a CD (too big for a floppy disk).  If running from CD, what you should do is first run it on any computer and tailor the options so that it would suit being used on any computer.  When you close it, a new file "Everest.INI" will be created in that same directory.  Open it in NotePad and delete any entries that make it specific to that computer.  You can also delete all the lang_??.txt files in the "language" sub-folder, because the default is English.

If you burn that to CD now, it will load from CD on any other computer using the defaults set by the .INI file.  Make sure that the output path to generate reports isn't set to the program folder (ie. the CD), but make it generic, like C:\ or C:\windows\temp.

I actually prefer the older version made while it was still being maintained by the creator and went by the name AIDA32.  This allowed you to generate .CSV files (comma separated values) that would open in a nice tabled format in Excel.  It also had the benefit that you could run it from a batch file or command line with numerous options to automate the process.  By choosing to load preferences from a specified .INI file in that command line, you could therefore use several "template" preferences to suit the occasion, eg. one to zip up a report and email it to you, or one to create only a summary report, etc.

The official links for that last AIDA32 version 3.93 are long gone now that Lavalys is marketing the revised product, but these sites still have live (unofficial) download links:

AIDA 3.93 Personal Edition

AIDA32 3.93 Enterprise Edition

AIDA32 3.93 Network Edition

English User Guide (PDF) (Some of this ONLY applies to Enterprise Edition)

Online here:  (493k) (16-bit for DOS - VERY USEFUL)
(version 2.0 -

It looks like I was wrong about version 3.93 being the last release as AIDA32:  (3181k) (Version 3.94.2 Personal?)

(I haven't tested this version yet).


For the various standalone versions of version 3.93, you can delete all the *.lng files as English is the default language and doesn't need a .lng file.

Don't be surprised to see a couple of files created in C:\Windows\TEMP:
AIDA32.vxd, and kerneld.w9x.

The AIDA16 version of the program is intended to be run in FULL DOS.  All you need, from the unpacked files, are:


These only take up 484 KB and will live on a floppy. By just running the command a:\A it will automatically generate a report on the floppy.  Optionally, the following symtax can be used from a batch file or command line:

AIDA  [[/R][C | S]<filename.ext>]  [/F5]  [/S]  [/D]

/R    Make text report to <filename>
/RC   Make CSV report to <filename>
/RS   Make report summary to <filename>
/F5   Append to <filename> if F5 key pressed
/S    Activate safe mode
/D    Disable debug information

If you choose to generate a .csv file as output, then there is an additional file that allows you to convert that .csv file to a web page (CSV_to_HTM converter) and can be run from the command line, or in Windows by dragging and dropping a .csv file (only one generated by AIDA16) onto the .exe file:
Unpacks to the 27 KB file "achrc.exe" that can be stuck on a floppy with AIDA 16-bit files.

Command line syntax:
ACHRC csvfile
Converts the file csvfile.csv to csvfile.htm.

It is unfortunate that Packard bells are amongst the computers (Compaq and Dell included) that don't always show full details in AIDA32 or AIDA16 because they haven't always published all their hardware digital ID's to assist diagnostic utility creators.

Hope this is helpful to you if you ever come across a computer for which full details are not known.

LVL 39

Expert Comment

ID: 12330513
Sorry, missed out the page that tells you how to create an install CD from a recovery CD:

I haven't read it fully, so I'm not sure how useful it is.

If looking to download Windows 98 Updates and Patches, rather than doing "Windows Update", the links on the following pages will allow you to seek the ones you specifically need:

Long list of links by Q number posted by me:

Windows Corporate Updates:

Good index of most commonly needed ones:

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