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What files are needed to make a hard drive bootable ?

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by john1, Jul 31, 2006.

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  1. john1

    john1 Thread Starter

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    Hi,

    I am trying to find out what files need to be put on to a hard drive,
    in order that the PC will boot from it.

    I am not trying to find out how to alter the 'boot order'

    The PC first tries to boot from the floppy.
    Thats ok, its supposed to.
    The floppy is broken,
    thats ok cos then it tries to boot from the CD,
    If there was a bootable CD in there it might do that.
    Then it tries to boot from the hard drive.

    Thats ok, thats what we want it to do.

    But the hard drive has been formatted, (FAT 32)
    so there are no files on it, at least not the ones its looking for.

    We have put the 98 cabs on the hard drive,
    but it wont boot from the 98 cabs.

    It wants the appropriate boot files on the hard drive
    in order to boot (i think)

    But i don't know what they are.
    And i have a feeling they might have to go in the right place,
    but i am not sure about that.

    This is pretty basic stuff, boot from hard drive.

    So can i find out what files it wants ... dunno where to start
    tried google, got swamped with stuff about boot disks.
    The floppy unit is broken.

    Any help appreciated,

    John :)
     
  2. rolandk10

    rolandk10

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    For a disk to boot, it has to have MBR.

    This is a defintion I found that explains it more eloquintly than I could:

    MBR, short for Master Boot Record, a small program that is executed when a computer boots up. Typically, the MBR resides on the first sector of the hard disk. The program begins the boot process by looking up the partition table to determine which partition to use for booting. It then transfers program control to the boot sector of that partition, which continues the boot process. In DOS and Windows systems, you can create the MBR with the FDISK /MBR command.
     
  3. bassetman

    bassetman Moderator - Gone but never forgotten

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    If I remember right, it's a good idea to copy all your system files from boot floppy to the new HD
     
  4. rolandk10

    rolandk10

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    Yes, if you use fdisk to create a master boot record, the drive will still need system files so the pc knows what to do once it boots the drive. create the MBR, then copy the system files from your bootable cd or floppy.
     
  5. john1

    john1 Thread Starter

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    as mentioned,
    the floppy doesn't work.

    We are removing the HD from PC#1
    and trying to set it up with Win98
    using another computer PC#2 which is working fine, with XP.

    We have copied the cab files on to the hard drive,
    but i now think we should format it using the format/s instruction.

    This i think should make it bootable, but i don't know for sure.
    And i don't know if XP will do that.
    Still, i didn't know XP could format to FAT32, but it can.

    What do you reckon ... ?
     
  6. prunejuice

    prunejuice

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    Why not just boot from the bootable installation CD. Are you saying the CD-ROM is not working?
     
  7. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

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    If you boot from a floppy, or a bootable MS-DOS CD-ROM, you can use the SYS command to make the hard disk bootable without losing the rest of the data on the hard disk. The boot files have to be in a specific place in the root directory for the MBR to find them.
     
  8. john1

    john1 Thread Starter

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    Hi rolandk10, bassetman, prunejuice, JohnWill,

    Hi prunejuice,
    the CD unit only seems to recognise some CDs, occasionally it will
    see the Win98se CD, but seizes up near the end of the process,
    asking for SP2 to continue. Apparently this is a known problem
    although i have not met it before.

    Hi JohnWill,
    Booting from a floppy would be nice, but the floppy unit is broken.
    The hard drive has been formatted in FAT32, using the XP machine.

    Thank you for confirming to me, that the boot files have to be in a
    specific place on the hard drive, which i had suspected.

    This means that the 'Format /S' command is the only way to go,
    as i don't know of any way to put files in places on the hard drive,
    so i think that must be the only way to get them where they need
    to be.
    Assuming that XP will do the 'Format/S' operation for FAT32,
    this i dont know.

    Then the cab files could be copied back on to the hard drive.
    Then hopefully the PC#1 will read the hard drive, which it is not
    doing at the moment.

    The owner of the machine has decided to get a working floppy unit
    for it as soon as possible.

    John :)
     
  9. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

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    If we're talking XP, you need to boot from the XP CD and use the FIXBOOT option from the recovery console. I incorrectly assumed you were talking Win9X/WinME here.
     
  10. prunejuice

    prunejuice

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    I can't imagine booting from a genuine Win98 or WinXP CD, and having it ask you for
    SP2, or any other service pack.

    If the CD-ROM is faulty, just replace it. They're general quite cheap, and you'll need a working one in the long run anyway.
    It sure as heck beats knocking your brains out for nothing.
     
  11. john1

    john1 Thread Starter

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    Well, i have very little idea what your last post meant.
    Could you please explain that again cos i didn't follow it.

    Just to clarify:

    The floppy unit of PC#1 is broken.
    We want to put Win98se on to PC#1
    The HD of PC#1 is now formatted in FAT32.

    PC#2 has no floppy unit.
    PC#2 works fine and has WinXP installed (legally)
    We have a Win98se installation CD.

    So we are talking about the possibility of using XP to do a Format/S
    operation in FAT32 on a hard drive which has been temporarily plugged
    into the XP machine, and which will be returned to PC#1 hopefully to have
    Win98se installed on it using the cab files copied on to it by PC#2 the
    XP machine.
    I now know that XP can format a drive as FAT32, but i don't know if XP
    will do the format/s instruction in FAT32.
    I still dont.

    Thats about the state of play at the moment.

    John :)
     
  12. john1

    john1 Thread Starter

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    Hi prunejuice,

    I found that surprising too, and opon reflection i think that the bug
    concerned was what started this downhill slide into desperation.
    Here is an article outlining the problem, which is something to do with
    an advert from "Total Velocity's T.V. Media" tied up somehow with I.E.

    http://www.pcworld.com/article/118511-1/article.html

    In this particular case, the owner had tried to run in the XP CD on to
    another machine, but had hit this recurring restart problem which keeps
    on asking for "Service Pack Two" in error, for this is not what it needs.

    This had resulted in the nearly complete installation having formatted the
    hard drive in NTFS refusing to complete the installation.

    So the attempt to transfer XP to the other machine was abandoned, and it
    was decided to put 98se back on to the machine which would not accept XP.

    However (PC#1) would now not read the 98se CD.
    Or do anything else, presumably because it is now an NTFS file system.
    So it was formatted back to FAT32 by removing it and inserting it as a
    slave on the XP machine (PC#2)
    However it now was not seen by PC#1, presumably because the 'System files'
    are either not present, or not in the right place.

    So the next step is to try and put the system files on the hard drive and
    in the right place.
    I don't know if XP will do that.
    It may well do as i have heard that XP has the facility to 'double boot'
    in case a user wants to include 98se, apparently it is favoured by people
    who play on line games.
    So maybe it will do that.

    The user has been very inconvenienced and annoyed by this unexpected turn
    of events, and it has been quite a puzzle for me too. If this possible
    solution does not work out, then within a few days a nice new floppy unit
    will be installed in PC#1.

    Regards, John :)
     
  13. john1

    john1 Thread Starter

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    Some success.
    The user mentioned that they can get what appears to be a genuine dos
    prompt up on PC#2 (the XP machine) from the temporarily attached hard
    drive, with the original hard drive disconnected.

    I had not expected that, but when this was mentioned, i said to run
    the Fdisk/MBR and hopefully this would render the hard drive bootable
    when it gets returned to PC#1 (the 98 machine)

    When contacted again by the user, who was most pleased and relieved,
    and told me that now PC#1 can see and use the hard drive, and was at
    that time in the process of installing Win98se back to the machine.
    Yes, the Fdisk/MBR operation had been executed and seemed to do what
    it did with no message or indication. Also the user said that the hard
    drive bios settings were incorrect, and were reset to default.

    I had no idea the bios settings had been altered, i will remember to
    check that in future.

    So i dont know if the hard drive was in a bootable state after being
    formatted by the XP machine, or after running the Fdisk/MBR. I was told
    that the options offered when formatting to FAT32 using XP did not
    include an option for 'format/s' so maybe it puts the system files on
    anyway.

    So thats it for now, all working. Many thanks for your support,

    Regards, John :)
     
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