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Beginners Guide to installing Windows

By: Patrick Tilsen | Guides | Posted: Nov 1, 2005 5:00 am

Formatting, Partitioning and Windows Installation


The first step to installing Windows is to format and partition your hard drive. You may be wondering what that means. When you partition your hard drive, you put a sort of barrier on it. You can use this to separate different portions of your hard drive, or just to have a big one. Even if you don't separate different portions, you still have at least one partition.


Formatting is another thing. When you format a hard drive's partition, you put a file system on it. A file system allows you to put files on the hard drive. These, combined are used to install your operating system (Windows), install any programs you may want, and to put any files you want on your hard drive. Simply put, they are required for Windows.


The complicated-sounding stuff aside, formatting and partitioning a hard drive is easy. I will teach you two ways: The easy way, and the really easy way.


The really easy way: Just use your Windows disc during the install. This doesn't apply with all versions of Windows. With Windows XP/2000, however, it is quite simple. The CD will ask you if you want to install on an existing partition (if one exists,


only applies if your hard drive has been used before without being reformatted), or format a new one.

Symantec Partition Magic 8.0 (PM80ENK1) for PC

The easy way: Use Fdisk. To do this, you can either use a boot floppy with Fdisk on it. The easiest way to do this is to download Free FDISK from here. If you are on an older Windows OS, such as Windows 98, you can also create a startup disk. To do this, go to My Computer (generally accessible from the Start Menu and the Desktop) and right-click on your floppy drive (A). Left-click Format, and elect to create an MS-DOS startup disk. After doing this, go to C:\Windows\Command and copy Fdisk to your floppy disk. After doing either of these, you will be able to use Fdisk from your floppy disk outside of Windows.



There are many other formatting/partitioning utilities you can use - If you are more comfortable with a different one, than use it. It shouldn't matter.


Regardless of what method you use, you'll first need to go into your BIOS and set your boot device for Floppy (or for CD-ROM) depending on which you chose. So what's a BIOS? BIOS stands for Basic Input/Output System. It is essentially the only method of communication between you and your computer outside of an operating system of some sort. To access it, you must hit a certain button when your computer starts up, but before it begins to boot into anything (such as Windows). The BIOS may flash what this button is before it boots. For example, a BIOS may say "Press DEL to enter Setup." If this button is not listed, try pressing Delete, along with each of the F buttons (F1, F5, F10, etc.).


Once inside the BIOS, you should be able to navigate with your keyboard. Look for a "boot device" setting. This may sound complicated, but should be relatively


easy to find. Once you have found it, you must change it either to CD or floppy. After doing that, simply start your computer up with the Floppy or CD in its drive. It should either boot into the Windows installation program, MS-DOS, or whatever


partitioning/formatting utility you are using. If you can't figure out how to get into the BIOS or how to setup a certain device as the boot device, visit the forums and we'll be happy to help you.


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