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Guide to Formatting a Hard Drive
(using Microsoft DOS or Win95/98)

by Bob Wright

This is a general guide / overview on the procedure to format your hard drive.  If you have special problems not covered in this document, please ask your questions on PCBUILD mailing list.

Now to begin, you will need a MS Dos6.xx or Windows9x boot disk.

You first need to decide what operating system you intend to load after formatting the hard drive.  It is best and easiest to use a boot disk for that Operating System, such as MS Dos6.2 or Windows95b or Windows98SE.   You will need the proper Windows95/98 boot disk inorder to load the these operating systems on the computer, else it will reject loading due to the wrong Operating System on the computer. 

Insert your boot disk in the floppy drive and start the computer.  Once the system has completed booting and an A: prompt appears we are ready to start. 

Type: format C: /s      [press Enter]

This statement tells the system to format your "C" drive and when it is finished to copy the system files to the drive, (the /s switch for 'System').   You can format a different drive this way by using a different drive letter. 

Format should display: WARNING, ALL DATA ON
Proceed with Format (Y/N)? Type [Y]  [Press ENTER]

Your screen should display the size of your drive and a countdown in precentage of formatting completed.  Depending on your computer's speed and the size of the drive it can take from a few minutes to over 15minutes.

When it reaches 100% complete, you will see a new message:   
FORMAT COMPLETE. SYSTEM TRANSFERED.   This indicates that the files required to boot your computer from the hard drive have been copied from the floppy to the hard drive.  The computer can now boot from the hard drive without a boot disk in the floppy drive.

You will see one last message:
Volume label (11 characters, ENTER for none)?
Type anything you like or leave it blank - [Press ENTER]

You can now begin to load your Operating System.


orangearrowright.gif (836 bytes)   Guide to Installing Windows95

orangearrowright.gif (836 bytes)   Guide to Installing Windows98



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