Hard Disk Drive Setup - Partition and Format

This procedure explains how to setup a new hard disk. Warning - if you are setting up a hard disk which contains data, the following procedure would completely erase your hard disk and the data would be unrecoverable.

Before a new hard disk can be used it needs to be setup. This involves partitioning and formatting the hard disk. Windows 98 or ME boot disk contains the required software to perform this procedure. FDISK.EXE and FORMAT.COM are the files required in your bootable floppy disk. Start the partition and format procedure by booting your PC using a Windows boot disk. Make sure you set the BIOS so that the boot sequence is set to detect the floppy disk first. If your system has no problems booting you will be presented with a Windows boot disk menu. This gives you the option to start the system with or without CD-ROM support. At this stage you do not need the CD-ROM support, so choose the option to boot without CD-ROM support. You should end up in the MS DOS prompt A: (A drive). From A: command prompt type fdisk. You will be presented with following message:

Choose "Y" to enable large disk support.You will now be presented with the FDISK main menu as shown below.

From the menu, choose option 1 - Create DOS partition or Logical DOS drive. Another menu will present the following options.

Choose option 1 - Create primary DOS Partition. FDISK verifies the integrity of your drive and will ask you if want to use the maximum available size of your hard disk to create the primary partition and set it active. To keep things simple we will create one large partition. Choose "Y" to use maximum available space. When the partition has been created successfully you will be notified by the system. Your drive is now known as C: (C drive). Press "Esc" to return to the menu. Press "Esc" again to exit FDISK. You need to restart your system for the changes to take affect. Leave boot disk in the drive.When the system reboots, choose start without CD-ROM from the boot disk menu. While booting from floppy disk you might get error message like "Invalid media type reading drive C" this is OK for this stage as the hard disk is not formatted.

From A: command prompt type format c:You will get a message saying "WARNING, ALL DATA ON NON-REMOVABLE DISK DRIVE C: WILL BE LOST. Proceed with Format (Y/N)?".

Don't worry about the message as you do not have any data in the new hard disk. Choose "Y". The format will proceed and would show you a progress indicator. The time it takes to format a hard disk depends on the size and speed of the drive. This could be around 5-30 minutes. Once the format is complete you need to reset your system. You are now ready to install an operating system.