Skip to content
Home » Windows » Guidance in re-installing Windows 98SE

Guidance in re-installing Windows 98SE

Mail from Frank Gross. I don’t know if I’ve ever outlined a process for installing Windows 98 cleanly, at least not here. There’s little need to do a clean install if the system works right, but if a system just won’t play nice, it’s not something one should be afraid of.

I use your book Optimizing Windows a great deal, and have read your line about being crazy to do this, but after a major crash and piecing it all back together again with your book by my side I am up and running again but, there are several glitches and I feel like I need to start with a cleaner, stronger foundation.

I have listed a step by step sequence to help me when I break into a cold sweat contemplating the ‘ropeless boat anchor’ on my desk – will you please review it and email me your comments ?


1. Backup all my data files
* is it necessary & can a backup or print out be made of the bios settings ?

It’s not necessary, as Windows won’t change those. I don’t know of a good way to back them up that works every time. There are a few “CMOS backup” programs out there, but the settings they save and restore are very superficial. They’re relics from the 386 days, and the last time I tried one on a modern motherboard it didn’t even work.

2. Gather all driver disks (some are .zip, .exe, .inf)

I like to extract all of my drivers into a big holding bin, because disks tend to go bad, and if they don’t go bad, I’ll lose them.

3. Remove all the pci cards (2x nic,sound,scsi)
Leave the video AGP card in for the monitor.

Not really necessary. On very rare occasions Windows doesn’t like to install with alien cards installed, but I couldn’t tell you the last time that happened to me.

4. Prepare my Win98SE CD and the Startup disk (boot floppy).

Right. You’ll probably need the boot disk, though some 98SE CDs are bootable.

5. Cold boot with the boot disk.
From the A: prompt

If your 98SE CD is an upgrade, make sure you have a previous Windows CD handy before you wipe your current configuration. Alternatively, you can skip the formatting step and just rename your Windows directory. That way, the new installation will ignore it except to verify that you had a previous version of Windows.

6. Copy all the necessary Windows files to the HD.
From the A: prompt
MD C:\Win98
With the Win98SE cd in drive D:
From the A: prompt
Copy D:\Win98\*.* c:\Win98
Verify that all the Win98 files are copied with DIR C:\Win98

I prefer to do XCOPY /S D:\WIN98\*.* C:\WIN98

7. Run Setup.
From the A: prompt change to C:
C: CD\Win98
Win98> type SETUP


8. Windows should now install.
* How can I best make a backup to revert back to this stage ?
* Run sfc to record files. How would you configure the options ?

Right. When you run SFC, use default settings and don’t replace any files.

As for backups… If you have a CD-R, it’s really tough to beat Norton Ghost, because it’ll make a backup straight to the CD-R, from DOS. If you’ve got an old hard drive kicking around, you can install a second drive, download xxcopy (freeware) from, and run XXCOPY /CLONE C:\*.* D:\ to make a clone of the disk, then remove it for safe keeping.

9. Install Drivers – in this order.
* Currently they are either .zip or .exe files – are they likely to self extract and setup themselves when I double-click ? Or, should I first ‘unpack’ them to a new directory on C: ?
a. Motherboard driver
b. Video/Display card driver

Zip files won’t self-extract, so extract them ahead of time. I extract EXEs ahead of time too. What I like to do is extract each to its own subdirectory, say, inside C:\Drivers. Any disk that’s just INF files and other files, copy straight into the directory.

You’re right about the order.

10. Replace PCI cards one at a time (NIC, Sound, Scsi).
Install driver for each in turn. Either by letting Windows auto detect with plug ‘n pray or via the Add Hardware wizard.
Check DeviceManager to see if each is correctly installed.


11 Software.
a. Install Internet Connection software.
b. Install Windows updates.
c Install all other software. Start with Utilities and Antivirus.
Run sfc

12. Restore data files.

13. Configure my home network (2 computers



Sounds like you’re probably ready to go.

If you found this post informative or helpful, please share it!

4 thoughts on “Guidance in re-installing Windows 98SE”

  1. Explanation of xcopy:

    xcopy is a souped-up copy command. (Think “extended copy.”) xcopy /s *.*
    means to copy all files, subdirectories, and the contents of the
    subdirectories. It’s a good habit to use xcopy /s wherever you would use
    copy, since xcopy /s generally does what you intend. Copy only copies files.

  2. SFC is an included utility that keeps track of system files. It was a precursor to restore points in ME and XP.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: