Monday, November 14, 2005

Windows XP

You may not need a bootable diskette if you use Microsoft’s most recent OS. As long as your PC is configured to boot from an optical drive (and most are these days), you can use the WinXP installation CD-ROM to launch the formatting process.
And if your PC doesn’t boot from an optical drive, you can create a set of bootable WinXP diskettes by accessing the Microsoft Help and Support site17, typing 310994 in the Search the Knowledge Base field (see the upper-left pane), and pressing ENTER. Click the Obtaining Windows XP Setup Boot Disks link and follow the instructions Microsoft provides in this Knowledge Base article to download a zipped file that will help you create a set of six bootable diskettes.
Next, insert the disc (or diskettes) and start the computer. If prompted, press any key to boot from the disc (or diskettes). When you see the Welcome to Setup screen, you have two options. If you suspect an MBR virus, you can reconstruct the MBR by pressing the R key. On the resulting screen, select the drive that contains the damaged MBR and press ENTER. Type the administrative password, press ENTER, and then type fixmbr at the prompt. Press ENTER to repair the MBR.
After completing this process, reboot the computer into WinXP to see whether the repair was enough to put your system back on track. If so, you may not need to format the hard drive, and that’s definitely good news.
If you don’t suspect an MBR virus or if you decide that formatting the hard drive is the best way to fix your PC, you should press ENTER when prompted at the Welcome to Setup screen. Press F8 to accept the EULA (End-User Licensing Agreement) when it appears on-screen. The next screen contains a list of the partitions on your computer’s hard drive. Highlight the infected partition and press ENTER.
Follow the on-screen instructions until you reach a screen that presents options for formatting the drive. You will have to decide whether to format the drive as an NTFS (NT file system) or FAT32 (32-bit file allocation table) drive. WinXP supports both of these file systems (systems which organize data on a hard drive). Because we don’t have room in this article to explain the differences among the file systems, we suggest that you select whichever file system governed your computer previously. If you don’t know which one that was, choose the FAT32 file system.
Regardless of which file system you choose, don’t select a quick format. Highlight your selection and press ENTER to continue. Verify that you want to format the drive and then wait while your PC completes the task. From there, the installation CD-ROM takes over. Follow the on-screen instructions while the disc initializes setup, restarts your PC, and installs WinXP. After that, you can reinstall your programs and reload your data files (from your most recent backup).

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