Win98 Startup -HELP- Save me from a NERVOUS BREAKDOWN

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Thread Starter
Sep 9, 2004
HP Pavilion Desktop, Win98

While installing digital camera software on my desktop, it hung and I had to shut it down. That's when all hell broke loose.

Now when the computer starts, it gets to the desktop and does not display anything, no icons, no taskbar, just a background. I can move the mouse but not click anything (there is nothing to click anyway). At that point, I also can not bring up the start menu with the windows key. Starting in safe mode results in the same thing.

I can start in Safe Mode Command Prompt and Command Prompt.

Here's what I've tried:

I went to Microsofts site and went through their instructions for startup troubleshooting. They ask if I can start in Safe Mode Command Prompt, I answer yes and they suggest running a virus-scanning program but I have no clue how to do that in MS-DOS. I know bascially NOTHING about MS-DOS. Can anyone tell me exactly how to do this?

Microsoft also suggested restoring the registry in MS-DOS. I did this multiple times to dates before I tried installing the camera software but no luck.

Microsoft then suggested then suggested checking to see of the regisrty was damaged (no luck) and suggested restoring the original registry (again, no luck).

They then suggested running Scandisk. After 6 hours of scanning, my bloodpressure rose as once again- no luck.

The great and powerful Microsoft then says to, "Run Windows 98 Setup again to replace any files that are missing or damaged." Well, first, I have no idea how to do that. Second, I don't have the original Windows disk, product key, etc. I don't think the computer came with one. Everything was installed when I bought it new.

If anyone can walk me through the steps Microsoft suggested that I couldn't do, I would appreciate it.
Nov 9, 2003
Without an installation disk, you simply cannot install Windows.

To be sold a computer with Windows 98 on, without an installation CD sounds a bit suss...


Jul 19, 2004
try running sfc "system file checker" you might be able to restore some missing files from there that are still in your system cab file and wont need the disk unless they need to be extracted then you will need the disk.
sometimes just useing the "update" will help.
what i would do is remove the cam for now untill you get this fixed then reinstall your cam.
also run a "scandisk" and let your system check for errors on your system.
Sep 9, 2004
If your system came with windows preinstalled then you should have the cd,so to speak,on your harddrive. You should also have the windows "product key" on a hologram type sticker on your computer case. I gotta say though if you bought a computer new with win98 preinstalled it's a fairly older machine, perhaps four or five years old, and that you have never required a reformat or reinstall(perhaps until now) is quite impressive. You must have a heck of alot of accumulated junk by now and personally I would recommend a reformat and reinstall on that basis alone. That would be difficult though as reformatting would wipe the Win98 folder in the process, so just do a search files and folders for this file "Setup.exe"(without quotes).Make sure that you search all of C: drive. You will not need the product key anyway for a reinstall over top of your existing win98. You may find several Setup.exe's but one of them will be in the win98 folder, so just right click and choose properties first to determine that the setup.exe you want is in the win98 folder and not in some other program. If you have determined that the Win98 folder is not on your hard drive(be exhaustive in your search) then you will have no other option than to obtain a win98 cd from somewhere and if that's the case then don't bother with an install over top of your present OS but get help and reformat and reinstall. This option gives you a spanky new computer.
Nov 2, 2002
You do not need to reformt in order to get the benefits of a clean install. Never have.

Just boot to DOS and rename the current \windows and \progra`1 (program files from DOS) directories.

Can't believe this information still keeps getting put out there.

This way you don't need to lose any data or files and still have a clean install.

In this case, you might see if there is a \windows\options\cab (or cabs) folder. Many vendors put the OS source code in that directory. Again, formatting would have removed that as well. It they are there then just rename the two directories and start the install. Sometimes the product code is already embedded into the INF file. But you will need one either way if you want to reinstall.
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