Preparing the hard drive for Windows 95


Preparing the hard drive

Some of you may be thinking that partitioning your hard drive with the Fdisk utility, or performing a clean format of your hard drive is a monumental, if not impossible task, but rest assured that with some careful thought and prior planning, it’s easy. Carefully planning your steps and making sure that you understand each one of those steps will be the key to your success!

Here are some “must do” procedures!

  • Make certain that you have created a backup of everything that you may need to use or restore later, such as data files,  music files, picture files, mail and address lists, drivers for your sound card, video card, modem and CD Rom drive.

  • You may also want to save certain of your applications and their updates.

  • At the very least, make sure you have all your passwords and phone numbers for connections safely stored on floppy disks. If passwords are stored and you don’t remember them, this could be a potential problem. One way around it though would be to change all of them prior to shutting down and then write down each new password.

  • NOTE: If you have multiple drives then the other drive might be the place to store information while you re-partition and reformat the first drive. If you want to change the second drive too, you can do that after having installed Windows 95 on the first drive.

  • Last, but not least, you will need a Boot or Startup Floppy Disk. If you are installing the full retail version of Windows 95, then Microsoft will have provided you with this boot floppy disk. If, you are using the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) version, also known as OSR2b, you should have a special floppy disk for handling the installation. If, on the other hand, you are doing a reinstallation using an Windows 95 Upgrade CD-Rom disk and do not have a boot floppy with your CD Rom drivers already on it, then you may need to make one.

  • Always use a new floppy diskette if possible and insert it into the drive.

  • This is a “must do” under all circumstances, as without this special Startup Disk, you will not have driver files that will enable you to access your CD-ROM drive to load the Windows 95 operating system. We also highly recommend that you create this Startup Disk and then boot to it to insure that it works and that you can access your CD-ROM drive!

  • Below you will find three methods below for building this floppy Startup Disk.

*Building a Windows 95 Startup Boot Disk*

The First Procedure:

  • Insert a new floppy disk into the floppy drive and format it and add the system files. You can do this by going to “My Computer” and right click on the floppy drive and choose format and transfer the system files.

  • Next, you’ll have to add a few files to your new Startup Disk. Leave the floppy in the drive and search for the following files using “Find, Files and Folders”. When found, just send them to the floppy. You will need: Scandisk.exe, Himem.sys, Emm386.exe, Mscdex.exe,, Fdisk.exe,, Config.sys, Autoexec.bat as well as the drivers for your CD-ROM drive, which should be “yourfile.sys”.

  • Next, you will need to rebuild two files, your config.sys and autoexec.bat, in order to enable you to access your CD-Rom drive when you boot to the Startup Disk. If you have access to a working Windows 95 computer, insert the Startup Disk with the above files. Open Notepad or Wordpad and then open the config.sys file. You will need to change the config.sys file to look like the following:




DEVICE=A:\*******.SYS /D:MSCD001 (****.sys is your cd rom driver)

  • Next, you will need to change the autoexec.bat file to look something like this:



That’s it, now boot to the floppy to test it. If it works, then you are ready to repartition the hard drive, format it and install the operating system.

The Second Procedure:

  • If you have any difficulty at all creating the above Startup floppy disk, then just create the bootable floppy disk itself.

  • Next, if you have the original version of Windows 95, not Windows 95 OSR2, the OEM version, then click on this link DOWNLOAD and download the files needed and unzip them to your formatted bootable floppy. Again, boot to the newly created floppy to test it and make certain that you have access to your CD-Rom drive.

  • If you have Windows 95 OSR2b, then click on this link DOWNLOAD and download the appropriate files for Windows 95 OSR2b.

The Third Procedure

  • If, for some reason, you are unable to format a floppy disk and make it bootable, then try this.

  • Insert a new floppy disk into your drive. It must be new and preformatted.

  • Next, click on this link DOWNLOAD and download the boot files you need in an executable format (For the Original Version only!) and save them to your floppy drive, NOT YOUR HARD DRIVE! Once they are on the floppy, open Windows Explorer, locate the executable and double click it. The files will expand and your floppy will be ready for use.

  • For Windows 95 OSR2b, use this link  DOWNLOAD.

  • Now boot to this new Startup disk and test it to make sure you have access to your CR-Rom drive.

The Partitioning Procedure

  • Insert the boot disk into the floppy drive and then restart your computer.

  • As the system begins the boot process and boots to the startup disk, your CD-Rom drivers will begin to load. For now, you can ignore them.

  • When the system finishes the startup or boot process, you will see the MS-DOS prompt on the screen, which will look something like this: A:\>

  • At the MS-DOS prompt, type “Fdisk” (without the quotes) and touch enter.

  • You will then be asked whether or not you want large hard drive support or the FAT 32 file system. An explanation of the FAT (File Allocation Table) can be found elsewhere at this web site. Suffice it to say that if you choose N or No at the prompt, you will be limited to FAT 16 and a 2 gigabyte partition size, while FAT 32 does not have this limitation. Therefore, selecting “N” will give you FAT 16 and a 2 gigabyte partition and “Y” will enable large hard drive support, or the FAT 32 file system. Answer “Y” and let’s move on.

  • At the next menu, you will be provided with a number of choices:

  1. Since we are deleting the original partition, select 3 from the menu – Delete ……

  2. Next, select 3 from next menu to delete any logical DOS drives first;

  3. Next, delete any extended DOS partitions you find, (menu item 2) and then delete the primary partition (menu item 1) both on the second menu after selecting 3 delete from the first menu.

  4. Now restart your computer and boot back to the Start Up Floppy. Again type “Fdisk” (no quotes) at the MS-DOS prompt.

  5. At this point in time you will need to have decided how you want to partition your drive. If you want to use FAT16 or a primary FAT16 partition, then respond to the question about large drive support by selecting “N”. If you want to use FAT 32 and large hard drive support, then select “Y”.

  6. Make a primary partition (menu item 1 then select 1). Select the partition size. The maximum for FAT 16 is about 2.1G, and for FAT 32 you can select the drive size you desire up to the limits of the drive or the motherboard bios limitations if there are any. Only create the primary partition at this time. You can make the entire drive a single primary partition or you can segment the drive any way you wish, such as primary, then extended logical drives. Once this has been done, touch the ESC key a few times to exit Fdisk and then restart the computer and boot back to the Startup Disk. If you want to install a second partition or logical drive, then follow the instructions in #7. If you want only one single partition, then move on to step #9.

  7. At the MS-DOS prompt, again type Fdisk. This time, when asked about large disk support, select “Y”. Use menu item 1 and then 1 (if you did not create a primary partition using FAT16 above). Next use Menu item 1 and then menu item 2 to create an extended DOS partition. Make this the size of the rest of the drive. (this is not needed if you made the whole drive a primary partition).

  8. Next select menu item 1 ‘create ….” then menu item 3 to make logical DOS drives. Make the size whatever you want up to whatever space is available. You may create one or more logical drives.

  9. Make sure that you use menu item 2 in Fdisk to set the primary partition as active, as if you forget you won’t be able to format that partition and your computer will not provide any clue as to why not.

  10. Restart your computer to the Startup Floppy, and then format the partition you have created. The correct syntax at the MS-DOS prompt is “Format c:/s” (without the quotes) and touch enter.

  11. Once the format has completed, remove the Startup Disk from the floppy drive and restart the system and verify that the drive(s) that you fdisk’d are accessible and readable. If you have done everything correctly, your computer will boot to a C:\> prompt.

  12. Now reinsert your Startup disk and boot to it. You are now ready to install the operating system.

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