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How to format and prepare a harddrive which never needs the Windows CD Rom again

by Karl Davis


This faq was drafted with the aid of fellow Tiscali Pc Help Posters.

It also only applies to Windows 95 and 98 -ME and XP automatically install all the .cab files to the hard drive when they are installed, so the procedure described is not necessary for these operating systems.


Now to create one large partion using the whole of your H/drive...

1. Insert your bootdisk with cd rom support
2. Power on system and allow floppy to boot to a dos prompt.
3. Type fdisk press [enter]

Choose option 1 and then option 1 again
Choose large disk support and then 100% usage...when fdisk has finished checking your drive it will be automatically set as active and as drive c:
Press esc and exit fdisk and re-boot with your startup floppy in drive a:
When you get to the command prompt type in format c:/u [enter]

When it's done you will have one large drive C drive.

Then you could follow the steps below to setup your system so that you don't have to use the Windows CD whenever you need to install any Windows components in future and install windows now.

Once you have a formatted blank drive/system use either a dos file manager like Laplink 5 which you can load from a floppy disk or use a dos command (instructions below) to copy all the cabs/setup files folder from your windows cd of your Windows operating system setup files to a folder called e.g. win98.

You could put the folder onto another partition, or if you prefer you can put it on another hard drive also connected to the system.

However below we will assume you are going to copy the folder onto the c: drive and that it is Windows 98 that you are using.

Depending on the version of Windows cd you have will determine the name of the folder location containing the cab windows setup files needed to do this succesfully. So you will have to change the paths and name of destination folder to suit your version of Windows and the location of the setup files.

If you are unsure where they all are just do a search from Start/find/Files or folders and specify your Windows cd for the search.

Dos Instructions :

First you have to create a directory call Win98 under c:\

Type this in DOS
mkdir c:\Win98

To copy Win98 Setup files from your CD to your hard drive.

Type this in DOS:
copy d:\Win98 c:\Win98 (d:\ is your CD-ROM drive, change it to your CD-ROM's drive as necessary)

Go to the directory where you have just copied the setup files to by typing c:\Win98 press [enter]

Start Windows setup by typing setup.exe press [enter]

This will allow you to proceed and install windows without the cd in the cdrom drive, but the real beauty is that you will not need the cd again, even if you require any windows changes to effect later as the system will automatically have all of the required windows setup cabs onboard.

Alternative dos instructions:

You may wish to try the following after the HDD has been formatted and the PC has been booted up via a FDD that gives cdrom support

change to drive c:
type in C:
& press enter
type in CD \
& press enter
type in MD win98
& press enter
type in cd win98
& press enter
type in the (drive letter for the CD-ROM Drive)
it will normally default to the next letter in the alphabet. If you only have 1 HDD drive C: the next letter would be D:
& then press enter
type in CD win98
& press enter
type in C:
& press enter
type in copy d:*.*
& press enter

Remove the cd-rom from the drive

type in setup
& press enter

Follow the standard installation of windows 98.

If the information regarding the program fdisk has been useful you may find the option of partitioning you HDD if it is big enough useful in another faq called. How do I Partition my Hard drive using Fdisk ?

The potential benefits for this is to get the PC to perform at its best, therefore getting it to respond better.

An example of this would be :

Drive C:
contains the operating system and drivers only

Drive d:
Contains the application programs

Drive e:
will contain all the things created with the application programs

Drive f:
Contains the programs downloaded and useful CD-Rom images & games.

Edit the Registry (if Windows is already installed) :

Disclaimer - Editing the registry can render your system useless and may stop your machine booting, so always make a backup of the registry first and ensure you are familiar with the restore process before doing the following and only if Windows has already been installed on your computer :

If Windows has already been installed from CD.. Copy the Cab files to a directory on your HDD and modify the registry.

Type Regedit in the run command and navigate to:


Look for the String Value "SourcePath" Right click on it and select modify, put in the path to the Cab file: example "D:\Win98"

Copyright © 2001-2006 © Copyright Karl Davis.

No part of this site may be reproduced in any format.All documents author acknowledged are copyright retained by the author.

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