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Format C without startup disk

Discussion in 'Earlier Versions of Windows' started by slipe, Feb 6, 2003.

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  1. slipe

    slipe Thread Starter

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    I recently saw someone format their C drive from DOS without a startup disc in Win98. I presume Win98 makes a RAM disk to do that without needing the ramdisk utility on the startup disk. I don’t think you could do that in Win95. How about ME – DOS is restricted so I’m guessing you can’t do that. Anyone know about Win2k and XP?

    I wasn’t aware it could be done at all. I would appreciate any insights.
     
  2. brushmaster1

    brushmaster1

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    The key point here is that you can't format a drive if you are logged on to it. If you have more than one drive, you could start in DOS mode, log on to another drive, and format C:
     
  3. SexyTech

    SexyTech

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    Or...

    With Win98/ME, you can boot to the CD-Rom...
    choose "Start the computer with CD-Rom Support"
    then it will bring you to a DOS Prompt where you can FDISK, format, or whatever else you want to do!
     
  4. slipe

    slipe Thread Starter

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    Maybe there was Windows CD already in the drive and I didn’t know it. I checked that there was no floppy and also checked fdisk (using a boot floppy) that there was only one drive and partition.

    I’ve never formatted using the CD-ROM and just didn’t think of it.

    Thanks for the input.
     
  5. pvc9

    pvc9

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  6. slipe

    slipe Thread Starter

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    I just had a thought. You can create a ramdrive using DOS commands with Windows installed. Would it not be possible to load the required utilities into the ramdrive and then format the drive from the ramdisk? You would need no CD or floppy in the drive if the ramdrive remains when you format.

    I’ve never fooled with ramdrives except the one on the boot floppy. But if the ramdrive the boot floppy creates survives the format then perhaps one you create without the floppy or CD would work as well.
     
  7. slipe

    slipe Thread Starter

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    pvc9 I didn’t see your post before I posted. What I am talking about is formatting the C drive when the C drive is the only drive on the computer. And doing it without either a floppy or CD in the drive.

    I don’t think it is possible to format C from the C drive as 13buddy says. The instructions for the format have to be somewhere and you are formatting the drive. I think you need a ramdrive. Either the boot floppy or the Windows CD has to make a temporary ramdrive and use the system RAM to provide the information to the computer to format the drive.

    I just don’t know enough about ramdrives to know whether one you create yourself from DOS can then be loaded with the utilities normally found in the boot disk or Windows CD and used to format the drive and load Windows.
     
  8. slipe

    slipe Thread Starter

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    I talked with my friend and he said he watched his son a second time format the C drive from DOS with no floppy or CD in the drive. There is only one hard drive and it is not partitioned. He said he then went on to install Windows but it failed during the install – but he obviously had CD-ROM drivers somewhere after he formatted the drive. He said the CD-ROM drive shifted from D to E indicating it had made a ramdrive on its own. The computer had Win95 and he was upgrading.

    So I ghosted my boot drive in case I screwed something up on my Win98 machine. I booted to DOS and typed in the format command (format c: /s) at the C prompt. It gave the normal dialog that I would lose all of the information on my C drive if I continued and I stopped there. But I have no doubt it would have formatted the HD with no floppy or CD in the computer.

    I tried the format command on the C drive from Windows and it said it couldn’t format the drive because it had files in use by Windows – which makes sense. But it will evidently format the C drive from DOS, and to the best of my knowledge DOS is only on C.
     
  9. ~Candy~

    ~Candy~ Retired Administrator

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    What does the autoexec.bat and config.sys files look like? Sometimes people copy the boot floppy to the hard drive.........

    I didn't think it would be possible to format c: from c: either.....:confused:
     
  10. slipe

    slipe Thread Starter

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    I didn’t think it could be done and told the kid as much – shows how much I know!

    But he did it twice on Win95 and I went as far as I was willing to go in Win98SE. I guess I could just go ahead and format the thing to be sure, but of course this would be the first time ghost ever failed me. It doesn’t do to tempt Murphy.

    But it sure gave all indications of being willing to format the C drive in DOS from a C prompt. It could only be making a ramdrive and loading at least some of the utilities normally found on the boot disk. The kid could access the CD-ROM after the format and the only explanation would be a ramdrive.

    Not sure what copying the boot floppy to the hard drive would do with only one drive that you are going to format. I think brushmaster1 was suggesting something like that with multiple drives or partitions.
     
  11. ~Candy~

    ~Candy~ Retired Administrator

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    Copying the boot disk floppy to the hard drive would in essence create a ram drive every time the computer was booted........

    But........hehe, I have an extra hard drive laying around......format c: won't hurt me......gotta run and cook dinner right now, but will give it a shot in the morning and see what happens :D :D
     
  12. john1

    john1

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    if its a format /s
    then dont the system files remain?

    that might be how it can be done.
    (i may try it later)
     
  13. slipe

    slipe Thread Starter

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    It seems if you created a boot floppy on the hard disk and the computer made a remdrive from it when you booted you would end up in DOS with a C prompt. All this is obviously over my head. Curious to see what happens with yours.

    Enjoy dinner.
     
  14. slipe

    slipe Thread Starter

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    john1 Just saw your post. I did use the S switch, but do the system files have generic CD-ROM drivers?

    This is what I get when I copy the system files to a floppy:

    <img src="http://forums.techguy.org/attachment.php?postid=716779">

    The zero bytes for the DOS is a problem with many Win98 systems BTW. To get the DOS over to my ghost floppy I had to download a boot floppy from the web as both the system files and the boot floppy my computer makes the zero filesize where it should be 1k.
     

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  15. kilowatt1

    kilowatt1

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    :D I'm not sure how it works but it does. I have formatted both Win95 and Win98 from within Windows. I think that it has to do with Format.com which is a DOS program located in C:\Windows\Command. I assume that this program is also the target of some virus authors as I seem to recall some virus' that would wipe a hard drive clean. By the way, FDISK is also tucked away in the same location.

    Just my 4 cents (inflation:p ) worth. I'll leave it to someone far more intelligent than me to figure out how it works.

    Kilowatt
     
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