Rebuilding Your PC

(From Scratch)



  Solution: How Do I Rebuild My PC hard drive and
  Operating System?

Important:  Before working on serious problems on your PC, backup as many files as you can, even if only to diskette.  This procedure details setup and install for Windows 95 and 98.  The concepts apply to other versions as well, and may be helpful.  The detailed procedure provides step-by-step instructions on completely formatting, partitioning, and installing Windows on your PC.
View a detailed Windows setup procedure online as a web page or an Adobe PDF.

Before starting a reload of a PC, there are several things you must have before you begin.  These include:

  • A valid copy of the FULL installation CD for Windows 95/98,  or the Win95/98 CD Update CD and a Windows 3.1 Disk 1 diskette (for the 95 upgrade), or the Windows 95 media (for the 98 upgrade).
  • You also need to have a valid certificate number that matches the Windows installation CD you are using.
  • A bootable diskette (preferably a Win95/98 Startup diskette) with your CD-ROM drivers loaded in the config.sys and autoexec.bat.
  • All your program diskettes, CD's, and serial numbers required for installation.
  • A backup of your documents, configuration files, save files, and any other custom information you wish to transfer to your rebuilt PC.
  • Download updated drivers, or have original drivers for your components (video card, network card, sound card, etc.)  If you can't find your original driver disks, go to the vendors websites to get the drivers.  If you still can't find anything look on places like and before you start rebuilding.  If you don't have drivers, you'll get stuck.

There are several major steps to rebuilding a PC.  Here is an outline of the most common installation method for reference:

  • Boot from your startup diskette and make sure you can get to the CD-ROM drive.  Fortunately, Win98 Startup disks can automatically setup most CD-ROM drives!
  • Run the FDISK utility to remove any existing partitions, and then repartition the disk.  Reboot the system from startup diskette.
  • Format the C: partition as a bootable system disk. (format c: /s)  Format the remaining partitions (i.e. format g:).
  • Make the directory structure c:\windows\options\cabs on your hard drive.
  • Copy the contents of the \WIN95 (or \WIN98 for Windows 98) folder on the Windows 95 CD to the c:\windows\options\cabs directory.
  • Run SETUP.EXE from c:\windows\options\cabs.  Be sure to NOT install to C:\WINDOWS.000 when prompted -- change the directory to C:\WINDOWS!
  • After the installation and "First Time Windows" setup, customize your setup and load any additional hardware drivers/updates.
  • Setup and test your baseline hardware and network (printers, scanners, dial-up networking, LAN, etc.)
  • Install your oldest applications and utilities first.
  • Install your most recent applications.
Finish by copying your documents and configuration files over to the rebuilt system.  (See the full document for step-by-step instructions)



Copyright 1995-2005, Keith Turbyfill.  All rights reserved.