Ive Installed, upgraded, patched, removed, deleted, backed up, and restored Microsoft Windows 95 once too often. It's time to start from scratch. What's the best procedure to format my computer's hard disk and reinstall the operating system? Could I do the whole job with just a floppy containing the MS-DOS system files, fdisk, format commands, and CD-ROM drivers? Roy Weiss
With every new upgrade, patch, add-on, and platform preview, Windows seems to get flakier. Worse, installing third-party hardware software often results in conflicting dll files that can cause the operating system to crash.
Diagnostic programs like CyberMedia's First Aid attempts to resolve these conflicts, but sometimes removing and reinstalling Windows and all of your applications is the best cleanup solution.
The trick is to keep the process simple. Unless you have a problem with your drive's file system that neither Chkdsk nor Scandisk can resolve (or unless you plan to repartition the disk, which requires you to format afterwards), don't bother formatting your hard disk. Instead, I recommend these steps:
Make a Win 95 startup disk. Select Start-settings-Control Panel, Double-click Add/Remove programs, Select the Startup Disk tab, Click Create Disk (If you want to dual-boot to an earlier version of MS-DOS, make sure you have a boot disk.) To create one, boot to MS-DOS, format a floppy with the command format a: /s and copy any necessary programs,drivers, and boot files that load the drivers (such as config.sys and autoexec.bat). Edit the boot files so that they reference the floppy, not the hard drive. Try booting with each floppy to make sure it works.
Back up all your crucial data.
Uninstall as many programs as you can, using the program's own uninstall utility or Windows 95's (select Start-Settings-Control Panel double-click Add/ Remove Programs, and click the install/Uninstall tab). This would be a good time to make sure you have the original installation disks and any necessary passwords or serial numbers for reinstallation
If your copy of Windows 95 came on CD-ROM, create a temporary directory on your hard disk, insert the disk and copy the contents of its /Win95 directory to the temporary directory.
This requires about 30Mb (Slightly more for OEM Service release 2) but it saves you from having to copy real-mode CD-ROM drivers to the boot floppy and set up the floppy's config.sys and autoexec.bat files to load them. You can delete the files after installation if you're short on disk space.
Make backup copies of any files in the Windows, and root (C:\) directories that you want to, keep. Such files might include customised config.sys and autoexec.bat files, Schedule Plus,custom wallpaper, and anything else (including directories) that you may have copied into the Windows or root directories.
Insert your Windows 95 startup floppy and reboot, then clear the decks. Delete the contents of the root directory by entering attrib -s -r -h c:\ *.* and then, del c:\ *.* clear out Windows 95 by entering deltree c:\windows, where \windows is the path of the Win 95 directory. Delete any other files and directories you'd like to jettison.
If you want to dual-boot between MS-DOS/Windows 3.1 and Windows 95, reinstall MS-DOS using the original setup disks. Next, reboot with either MS-DOS or your windows 95 startup floppy, and -- If Windows 95 came on CD-ROM --run setup.exe in the directory containing the Windows 95 installation files. When the process is complete, reinstall any applications you want to keep using.