Anyone who is familiar with overclocking or tweaking their system in any kind of way is also familiar the topic I am about to cover…and that is Re-Partitioning, Re-Formatting, and Re-Installing.
With the introduction of Windows XP into the market, the NT kernel has replaced the old DOS-driven OS’s, and partitioning and formatting can be done from the install CD…so why this guide? Well, any time you do something for yourself, you gain freedom to do it the way you want it done, and I plan on showing you a tool to make re-partitioning and re-formatting the easiest things in the world to do!
Before we begin, understand that the following actions WILL ERASE YOUR HARD DRIVE COMPLETELY!
If you are good at following directions, then you should have no problem with this guide. If you have any reservations, however, stop now and let a professional service your computer for you. If you do decide to perform this yourself, make sure you back-up all of your information. Later on in this guide, I will show you a good way to do that, also!
First, there are a few tools we will need. I would highly suggest you download Ranish Partition Manager. This is one of the very best partitioning programs I know of and it will make short work of what could become a long, drawn-out process. We will also need a boot disk, which can be made from within Windows in the following manner:
For Windows 9X/Me systems, go to Control Panel, and click on Add/Remove Properties. Click the Start-Up Disk tab, place a formatted disk in your floppy drive and click on Create Disk…your done!
For Windows 2000/XP users, insert a formatted disk into your floppy drive. Click on My Computer, right click on A: drive, and select Format. Click on Create an MS-DOS startup disk, and your done! NOTICE: the MS-DOS boot disk does not contain the drivers for your CD, and will not boot with CD-ROM support.
I would suggest downloading a 9X boot disk from Bootdisk.com for this purpose. I would also suggest downloading SMARTDRV.EXE if you want to install from your HDD. This process is covered in depth a little further on.
Now copy the Ranish Partition Manager files to the startup disk. From here on out I will refer to this program as PART. Once you have placed the PART files on the disk and have backed up your pertinent information, leave the disk in the drive and reboot your system. If you do not have your computer set to boot from a floppy drive, you can do that when you reboot.
Press F1 or DEL (or whatever key gets you into your configuration menu) and choose A: as the first boot device. Save your changes and exit. If you made a 9X/Me boot disk, you will have a couple of options…choose start without CD support. If you made an MS-DOS boot disk in 2000/XP, it will boot to the A:> without any options.
Once you are at the A:>, type B: to navigate to your floppy drive (A: is a virtual drive in DOS). Once you are at the B:>, type part to start PART. A blue screen will appear and you will see all the information concerning your hard drive(s). If you have more than one hard drive, you can switch to the one you want to partition/format with the F5 key.
When you have chosen your hard drive, use the arrow keys to scroll down to the partitions listed. One at a time, highlight a partition and hit the DEL key. This will delete the partition in the program memory only…if you wish to undo this action, hit the F3 key. Once you have cleared all the existing partitions, scroll to the first unused partition slot, “1 Pri Unused”, and hit Enter. In the box that opens, you have a few options to choose from.
The first is what file system to format your hard drive in…FAT16, FAT32, Extended, BeOS, Linux, or Linux swap. There are other formats you can choose later, but they are not officially supported by PART. Don’t worry, if you want to format with NTFS, there is a simple way to do this which I will get to in a bit.
Choose your file system type and hit enter. Now choose your partition size. You can specify a specific size in KB, or you can choose a starting cylinder and /or an ending cylinder…then hit Enter. Choose Save now, Format now, and then either Format (which will also do a surface check – this is the long way) or Quick format without surface test, which will just write the FAT tables. Hit enter, and your disk is formatted!
After this, choose a partition and press B to make the partition active. Now, you can choose to do another partition (PART supports up to 4 primary partitions, but you can reboot and it will do 4 each time), or you can press F2 to save the MBR and ESC to exit. Once you exit back to DOS, you can CTL-ALT-DEL to restart your computer, and your partition/format work is complete!
PART is a very strong tool, and is capable of a lot more functions than what is covered here, such as copying partitions and copying entire hard drives. If you get the chance, play around with it. If you mess anything up, you can always just partition/format again using the steps above!
Now that you have partitioned and formatted your hard drive, you can re-install Windows. First, choose which version of Windows you want to install, and place the CD in the tray. When you install Windows, you have 2 options on how to do it…from the CD or from your hard drive.
If you want to install Windows 9X systems from your hard drive, you will first have to make a directory for the files. Boot up with your boot disk, start with CD-ROM support, and at the A:>, type C: to navigate to your root drive. At the C:>, type md * (* being the name of the directory you wish to make).
Now, type cd * (being the name of the directory you just made). Type copy D:*.* (we’ll call the CD drive D: here, but it may be different in your system), and the contents of the CD will be copied to your folder. Then type setup and follow the instructions.
For Windows 2000/XP HDD installs, it is a very good idea to get a copy of SmartDrive (SMARTDRV.EXE). It will drastically reduce the time it takes to copy the files in DOS. Boot up to the A:> navigate to the folder or disk you have SmartDrive located in and type smartdrv. Now type cd *:i386 (* being your CD-ROM drive letter), then at the *:i386>, type winnt to begin setup. This will copy the install files to your HDD, then it will reboot and start the installation process.
If you want to install Windows from your CD-ROM, make sure your computer is set to boot off the CD-ROM. Place the CD in the tray and start your computer. For Windows 9X/Me, choose Boot from CD-ROM, then option #1 (start Windows 9X/Me setup from CD-ROM). Follow the instructions, and in 20-40 minutes (depending on the speed of your machine) you will be looking at the desktop of Windows 9X/Me OS! For Windows 2000/XP, the process is somewhat different.
Place the CD in the tray and start your computer. You will see a prompt to Press any key to boot off the CD…press any key at this time. You will then see a blue screen appear, and at the bottom you will see the system drivers being loaded into your computer. After a minute or two, you will come to an option screen with three options…to setup Windows XP, press enter. On the next screen, hit F8 to agree to the EULA.
Now, remember when I told you that PART did not support NTFS partitioning? Well, here’s the way around that. Choose the partition you want to install XP on, and on the next screen, choose Format, then partition using the NTFS file system. You can also choose to stay with the FAT32 system, or leave the current file system intact.
Once that is done, just follow the directions on the screen, and in 30-45 minutes (depending on the speed of your machine) you will be looking at the desktop of Windows 2000/XP OS!
I hope this answers some question you may have had concerning Re-Partitioning, Re-Formatting, and Re-Installing. There are several ways and several programs to help you accomplish these tasks, but the way I have outlined above has been by far the easiest way for me.
Take care, and good luck.