Removing old win98 primary drive

  cherria 10:43 16 Feb 04

Hi all

I have a machine which originally had win98 installed.

When I bought XP, I installed it on a new secondary HDD and made the machine dual boot. win98 on C: and XP on D:

I would now like to remove the win98 disk and reformat it for use as a data disk.

Since it contains the primary boot partition, I'm aware this is not a simple matter.

Could anybody help me out with the procedure I need to go through to make my machine a single boot XP machine and prefereable not have to reinstall every piece of software (i.e. leave the primary boot partition and XP on drive D:)


  temp003 15:17 16 Feb 04

If you don't insist on booting from the XP hard disk (where XP is) itself, you can back up your boot files from C, format C, restore the boot files to C, and continue to boot into XP. This way, the drive letter for the XP drive/partition is unchanged, all programs on XP will work, and is quite simple. You don't even need to open up your computer case and change master/slave settings.

If, however, you want to make computer boot from the XP hard disk, it's slightly more complicated. Plus, the XP partition should (although I'm not absolutely sure) become C, and the registry entries in XP (e.g. referring to D:\Program Files) may all be wrong. Can be overcome, just take a little more work.

If you're content with the first solution, here's my suggestion.

Load XP. In My Computer, click Tools, Folder Options, View tab. (1) Tick "Show hidden files and folders" (2) Untick "Hide file extensions for known file types" (3) Untick "Hide protected operating system files" and say yes to confirm (4) Click OK.

Insert a floppy. Right click Drive A and select Format. On the next window, just tick Start and do not tick any of the boxes. Must do this within XP, and even with a brand new floppy.

After formatting, double click drive C. Copy 4 files: ntldr,, boot.ini and bootsect.dos to the floppy.

After copying, leave floppy in and restart computer to test the floppy (and go into BIOS to set the boot sequence to be first, floppy, second, CDROM and third, hard disk). If the floppy works, you should get the same old boot menu. Select XP and see if it loads. It should.

If XP loads successfully from floppy, remove floppy, label it "XP boot floppy" and keep it safe.

Next stage, insert XP CD. Restart computer and boot from CD.

On XP setup welcome screen, press R to enter Recovery Console. It should list out your XP installations. There's only one, so it should say 1. D:\WINDOWS

Press 1 and Enter. Enter Administrator password.

At the D:\WINDOWS> prompt, type

format c: /fs:fat32

(one space after the word format, and one space after c: and no spaces thereafter). This formats the C drive in FAT32, because I'm assuming that your XP partition is on FAT32 as well. If your XP drive is on NTFS, then type:

format c: /fs:ntfs

and press Enter. You'll be warned about formatting the C drive, say yes. Wait for it to finish.

AAfter formatting C, insert the XP boot floppy.

Back at the D:\WINDOWS> prompt, type

copy a:\ntldr c:

and press Enter. Then type

copy a:\ c:

and press Enter. Then type

copy a:\boot.ini c:

and press Enter.

These 3 files are all you need now for booting to XP only (no need for bootsect.dos).

Then type

fixboot c:

and press Enter. Confirm the action. Then type


and press Enter. Computer will restart. Remove CD AND floppy and let computer restart from hard disk. You will still get the old dual boot menu at this stage. Select XP. It should load XP.

Once in XP, click Start, Run, and type:


and press Enter. This opens the boot.ini file in Notepad. Now you want to remove the reference to Windows 98 in the boot menu.

Make sure that the line that begins with the word "default=" is as follows:


This is the path to your XP installation. You want to make sure that it is your "default" choice.

If that's the case, then the only change you need to make is, under the section [operating systems], there is a line that reads like:

C:\="Microsoft Windows 98"

Just delete this line. click File, Save. Exit Notepad. When you next restart, you won't get a boot menu, and the machine will boot straight into XP. Then you can use drive C however you like.

If anything goes wrong, use the boot floppy to boot you back into XP.

If the new setup is working, you can insert boot floppy back in, and delete bootsect.dos, and copy the new boot.ini file from C to the floppy (replacing the one on the floppy).

If you don't like the idea of having your only OS on D while the computer is booting from C, and want the computer to boot from the XP hdd, post back. It's going to be slightly more complicated, but perhaps still manageable.

  cherria 10:00 17 Feb 04


Thanks for the info, but I would really like to make the XP disk the boot disk but force its drive letter to be D: so I don't have to reinstall all the software.

I could then take out the current c: drive if necessary as its old and slow.


  temp003 14:33 17 Feb 04

If you make computer boot from XP hdd, you can't force it to be D, unless you use 3rd party software. XP Disk Management does not allow drive letter changes to the active partition.

Either use 3rd party software, or edit shortcuts on desktop and start menu and edit registry references from D:\ to C:\.

Back up existing boot files (the 4 files) to the XP boot floppy, remember to format the floppy in XP. See above. Remove floppy and label it "dual boot floppy". Back up important data on XP partition.

Copy from C to D, the 3 files ntldr, and boot.ini. Double click D:\boot.ini. Edit the "default" line by changing rdisk(1) to rdisk(0). Edit the line under [operating systems] that refers to XP, by changing rdisk(1) to rdisk(0). Delete the line that begins with C:\="Microsoft ..." Click File, Save. Exit Notepad.

Now insert ANOTHER floppy. Format and copy the 3 files from D drive to the floppy. Remove floppy and label it "XP single boot floppy".

Click Start, Run, type diskmgmt.msc and press Enter. Right click D partition and select option to "Mark Partition as Active", if available. If greyed out, let it be. Close Disk Management.

Turn off computer. Unplug IDE cable end from XP hdd. Unplug cable end from 98 hdd and plug it to XP hdd. Change XP hdd jumper settings to Master. Leave 98 hdd disconnected. [Don't cut corners here, do it.]

Start computer, go into BIOS to make sure XP hdd is primary master, that the hard disk to boot from is the primary master. Boot sequence should be floppy, CDROM, then hard disk. Save settings and exit BIOS. Let computer start and see if it will load XP.

If it doesn't, insert XP CD, and reboot computer from CD. At XP setup screen, press R to enter Recovery Console. It should say 1. X:\WINDOWS (where X is either C or D, shd be C). Press 1 and Enter. Enter Administrator password. At the prompt, type:

fixboot X:

and press Enter (where X is C or D as the case may be). Confirm action. Then type:


and press Enter. Confirm. If you get error message saying it can't be done, type

fixmbr \device\harddisk0 and press Enter. Confirm.

After fixboot and fixmbr, type exit to restart. Remove CD. See if XP loads.

  temp003 14:46 17 Feb 04

If XP still won't load, insert XP CD, restart to boot from CD. At XP Setup screen, press Enter to enter Setup, F8 to accept EULA, highlight existing XP installation, press R to repair existing installation. Follow the prompts.

A repair installation will keep data and programs intact. If for any reason the Repair existing installation option is not available, do not try to install a fresh copy of XP. Post back. During the GUI portion of the installation, you'll be asked for computer name, use the same computer name as your existing XP (check it now, in XP, right click My Computer, Properties, Network Identification tab, write it down.).

After a couple of restarts, should load XP. With a repair installation, apply the downloaded MS Blaster patch immediately before going on internet. Reapply all Windows Updates. Check shortcuts and programs to see if any correction is needed, using your desired method.

The repair installation can also be your first port of call, i.e. after setting XP hdd as Master and disconnecting 98 hdd, insert CD, start computer, and repair the XP installation.

If for any reason, you can't load XP with any method, use the "XP single boot floppy" to boot up computer to load XP (where XP is the only hdd on computer, as Master). Or restore the hdd configuration as now, and try to boot from 98 hdd, getting the dual boot menu, or boot from the "XP dual boot floppy".

  cherria 14:54 17 Feb 04

Thanks again for all your help. I'm not sure yet if I want to go down this path. In my younger days I would have happily spent hours trying to make it work, but unfortunately fatherhood leaves me with very little time to tinker with PCs.

You would have thought microsoft would have thought of this as I'm sure many people went for the multiboot option when upgrading to XP they will all now, like me, be stuck with an old partition or disk controlling the booting of their system.

Ho hum. Perhaps I'll just live with it for now.

Thanks again for all your help, I'll save this for when I have more time.

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