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Installing or Rebuilding
Windows 95/98 Systems

Rebuilding Windows 95 and 98: I have at various times "practiced" reinstalling and rebuilding my system so I know that it is robust and that all the backup proceedures work. I use the spare drive on my system and change the jumpers to make it the master when doing this. The jumper settings were obtained by a search of the manufacturers databases using the Alta Vista Search Engine to look for the Manufacturers and Drive name. The examples here are for Windows 95 OSR2 on our Dell system and obviously the types of peripherals, monitor etc will have to be changed on another system. Windows 98 is very similar to rebuild to Windows 95 - a few more things are installed by default and the Fax software is normally not available (but see Howto install the Microsoft Fax Service in Windows 98)

Windows Boot Disk: The starting point in preparing for disasters and rebuilding was to create startup floppy disks - without these you can do nothing if Windows or the hard drive fails. The basic disk is created within Windows 95/98 (Open the Control Panel from Start|Settings|Control Panel and double click Add/Remove programs where you will find a tab to Create Startup Disk). This allows one to get basic DOS operations including FDISK and FORMAT by turning on the machine with the boot floppy in the drive. This is still only part way as it needs the drivers for the CD to be added before one can load the Windows 95 CD.

CD Boot Disk: When I first obtained the machine I was given an opportunity to make this CD Boot Disk but I have never found where to access it again so I will detail for others the proceedure to make one up or to gather the bits if the hard disk is still available. It involves copying the Device Driver which will be called something like NEC_ide.sys and will probably be in the C:/ directory, the CD Program called mscdex.exe probably in the C:/WINDOWS/COMMAND directory) and the High memory driver HIMEM.SYS from the C:/WINDOWS directory to the disk and changing the Autoexec.bat and config.sys files. You can find the CD driver by looking in the main config.sys file on the hard drive.

My Autoexec for the CD boot disk only has one line


The Config.sys file has


Installing Windows 95 to retrieve a backup tape: The install of Windows 95 takes about 30 minutes. If one is restoring a backed up system from tape there is no point in configuring anything and one should just install the backup software at this point. You may need to turn off the Tape Drive and Computer power to get it to recognise the new hardware rather than a simple restart. Once the backup software is loaded you should be able to do a complete restore including the Registry and be back to where you were.

Rebuilding a Windows 95/98 System: If you chose to install the Windows 9x System then one has quite a lot of configuration to do. Rebuilding however does have the advantage of removing lots of junk andspeeding everything up. You also know exactly what you have rather than having "baggage" left from a preinstalled system. It is well worth while looking through all the configuration information on the system before you start from scratch. Most of this can accessed from the Control Panel although Windows 9x often has a confusing number of different ways to get to the same configuration information. There are even two ways to open the Control Panel - via the My Computer Icon on the Desktop or the Start Button and Settings|Control Panel. Both of these routes also give you access to another other important area to configure which is Printers.

Installing and Configuring Hardware - Printers, Graphic Display cards, Tape drives, Modems etc. These can all be pluged in when Windows is installed the first time and the Plug and Play feature should identify them, load drivers where they are available or ask for disks where they are not. They can also be set up later if Windows does not find them at the time or you do not wish to waste time.

Now all the other icons in the Control Panel need to be explored and the tabs set. There are quite a lot of them - 20 ! Those that are not mentioned are not used on my system or the defaults are fine. The settings are for our Dell XPS P120c with 15 inch Monitor type VS15 and a "Number 9 330 Image" type video card with 1 Mbyte of RAM. More RAM allows better resolution and colour depth displays. The keyboard is a standard 101 key layout on a PS/2 port.

Updates and patches: There are a number of Windows 95/98 and Internet Explorer Security patches available and I found a set of important updates at http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com. The site "installs" a Java/ActiveX component on ones machine which checks which patches have been installed and it gives on a list of patches and upgrades available to download. One ticks those required and they download and install automaticaly. One needs to reboot at the end. You may wish to carry out the more critical updates including the Year 2000 fixes after testing the system. You will need to make a new startup disk after the Year 2000 fixes have been applied.

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Content revised: 8th September, 2001
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