OS reinstall

I have to admit - I’ve never actually formatted a machine and reinstalled the operating system. But after lending my laptop to a friend and having it returned with 900 infected virus files, most of which are system critical, I’ve got to do it.

Anyway, the machine currently has WinME, and I plan on “downgrading” it to Win98 SE. The laptop is a Gateway Solo 5300, 700mhz with an S3 8 meg video card, 128 meg ram and a 6 gig hard drive.

My question is relatively simple: I have the Windows 98 SE Complete cd. Can I just “pop it in”, boot it up and should the install automatically find all of the relevant drivers and stuff? Or at least get it working so I can download the correct drivers off of the Gateway site? Or is there something else I need to know?

Did you remove the virus? Do you have a boot floppy? I highly recommend reformatting the drive before installing 98SE.

Once windows is installed you will most likely still need the correct drivers from GW for video, sound, modem, network card and so on. There may be some laptop specific drivers you need also. If you’ve never done it before, there are lots of little annoying things you might run into.

I can’t remove the virus really… it has infected something like 800 files, an a few of those are things like explorer.exe and other system critical. The virus checker just tells me it can’t do it. No boot floppy either.

Gateway has a little utility called Gateway Update which should allow me to download all the drivers just fine. I don’t think I have the system restore disk, and even if I did, I don’t actually like Windows ME so it is probably pointless.

Heh, you give your laptop, your friend gives you a virus. Nice! :)

You have to reformat the drive before you install. Windows ME won’t let you go backwards, so you have to start fresh or move onto Windows XP. Plus, like MS says, you want to reformat to kill the virus.

You need the restore disk to reformat the drive. You can probably find one searching the web. You can also make one using the OS, but if its still infected I would search the web.

You want to use fdisk to remove all the partions, then use it again to create a new partion, and then format that partion. When you accomplish that, you’re ready to use the Win98 CD to install.

Thanks, Tim. You wouldn’t know of a step-by-step instruction sheet for doing all this, would you? Also, I guess I don’t understand what you mean by “system restore disc”… I assume you aren’t talking about the CD-Rom that came with the laptop and which I can no longer find? Also, is this syetm restore disc generic, or specific to my brand of laptop?

Have you thought about booting off the antivirus CD or boot off uninfected floppies created from a clean computer to try one last virus clean?

I use AVG, which doesn’t have a cd. I’m not quite sure I understand what you mean by “boot off uninfected floppies from another computer”… how would I go about creating something like that? Also, I don’t have access to any other WinME machines.

Don’t necessarily need WinME disks - just need a boot disk from a Microsoft OS.

If I remember correctly you can create them by going into System (under Control Panel) and click the “Boot Disk” tab - but it’s been a while since I messed with 9x.

Dr. C,

You can get a bootdisk image from www.bootdisk.com. Just download the one you want to a clean PC, insert a floppy, and run the exe. It will create a clean bootdisk for you. Then, just boot with the clean disk, run fdisk (should be on the bootdisk) to delete your old hard drive partition and create a new one, format the new partition, and install from Win98 cd.

Okay, thanks for the advice. JamesG, on Bootdisk.com, do I download the bootdisk for the OS I already have (WinME) or for the one I’m going to install (Win98)? Hell, does it even matter?

Oh yeah… another possible hitch in instructions is that I have only one modular drive bay, meaning I can either boot up with the floppy OR boot up with the CD, not both. Does this affect anything in the set up procedure, or can I simply format and create a new partition, then reboot with the bootable Win98 cd?

Formatting then rebooting with the CD should be fine. It should not matter what boot disk you use, but using ME would probably be easier.

You should have a completely clean boot disk from a computer thats known to be non-infected. Otherwise, you run the risk (depending on the virus) of just installing the OS with a virus from the beginning. Not a good idea.

If you actually spent a few bucks on a antivirus program with a CD, or had made “rescue disk”, you wouldn’t have to be reinstalling the OS right now, because you would boot of those, clean the virus off, and go on with your life.

Okay, I need help. I formatted the drive, used fdisk to delete the old partition, then made a new one. Popped the CD into the drive, it starts to install, says “Format C:? (Recommended)”. I click yes, then it tells me that it can’t format the drive, since it is “unrecognized media”. Booting from the system disk, then formatting returns a similar error. Furthermore, doing a dir on c: shows a 4 gig gibberish file on the c drive. Any ideas?

Anything older than windows 2000 has a hell of a time with large drives. You may have to install the icky disk management bootloader from the hard driver manufacturer’s website.

Is six gig really that big of a drive? The weird thing is that tyhe C directory lists contents in gibberish as an almost 4 gig file, then says there’s only 8,192 bytes left on the drive. Trying to delete the file with a del . results in path not found.

fdisk & format again.

Make sure you use a FAT32 aware fdisk from 98SE or later.

XPav, I can’t… I can use fdisk to delete the primary partition, then institute a new one, but it just creates the new primary partition with the same error as before. Format won’t work… it tells me “unrecognized media” and I have to abort.

Hmmm, as I just said that, it just suddenly allowed me to run format. It is trying to format a 2 gig hard drive, though… which leaves 4 gig unaccounted for. I’m gonna try installing Win98 now and see if that corrects “the problem”… if not, I’ll feel better about reformatting the drive and setting new partitions when I’m sure the computer’s actually technically working.

If its going as 2 gigs than its at FAT16, not FAT32 drive.

Where’s this FDISK from? Does it ask when you start it… “Do you want to enable 32 bit blah blah large disk support?”

What virus did you have? Is the virus in the boot sector of the drive?

Okay, yeah, I turned that option off because I was afraid that that option was what was causing all of my problems. I don’t think the virus was in the boot drive: it was the Win32/Parite if that helps. Anyway, Windows 98 seems to have installed fine, so now I’m converting the drive to fat 32 and see if I regain the entire 6 gigs. If so, no problem… if not, I’ll format again. Just for the record, the order is this, right?

  1. Boot up with bootdisk
  2. Run fdisk
  3. Delete partitions
  4. Reboot
  5. format c:
  6. Reinstate partition