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XP Crash "Non System Disk" error

Discussion in 'Windows XP' started by Mike37, Feb 14, 2003.

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  1. Mike37

    Mike37 Thread Starter

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    Recently I had an XP OS crash. Received a "non system disk" error on black screen. No disks in floppy drive, ZIP drive or CD drive. Eventually, I determined that I had to reinstall XP. Wen reinstalling, XP evidently did not recognize itself on the disk as it asked for my previous Windows CD. After inserting my Win98 CD in the drive, XP installed OK. However, two problems occurred: First, I have two hard drives on my system. The large 13 GB drive is drive 0, the boot drive, formerly designated drive C:\; my second backup drive, drive 1, is 3 GB, is older and slower and was previously designated drive D:\. After the install XP had reversed the drive letters on these drives; now my boot drive(formerly C:\) is designated drive D:\ and the backup drive (formerly D:\) is designated drive C: Second, because XP did not recognize itself on the drive and requested my Win98 CD, it installed itself with a "clean" registry. Consequently, none of the programs on the hard disk were installed in the Startup menu. Everything is there, but not listed in the Startup registry. Also, some of the programs will not start by clicking on their .exe files, evidently, because the drive letters were switched. Some programs will start, however.

    I have tried to change the drive letter designations back to their original designations by drilling down through the Performance & Maintenance menu to the "Disk Management" tool where it suggests that drive letters can be changed. However, when I attempt to change the drive letters on either hard disk, XP gives me a popup window with a message to the effect that "windows cannot change the drive letter designation!" . . . so why offer the possibility in the first place????

    I need to know how to change my drive letter designations back to their original designations.

    Finally, if I unhook all of my periferals, except my mouse, can I reinstall XP without it looking for peripheral drivers and asking for the previous Windows CD? Or am I at the point wher I must format the hard drive and start all over?

    I have no problem with formatting the hard disk and starting from scratch except that I am worried about the drive letter assignment. For instance, my big drive (drive 0) is newer and faster than the smaller drive and I want it to be not only the boot drive but designated as drive C:\. Will this happen automatically if I format the disk and reinstall XP?

    Also, It has been several years since I reformatted a disk and reinstalled any Windows OS. I want to be assured that I can do this with my XP CD without some kind of strange Windows problem. I really pine for the old days of DOS where things could be controlled from the command line. Thinking of going to Linux!!!

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
    Regards,
    Mike37
     
  2. brendandonhu

    brendandonhu

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    I don't know about the drive letters, but with a clean registry, very few programs will work anyway because now almost everything uses the registry for storage.

    Also, is this an upgrade XP CD, because if its an upgrade it needs the 98 CD to install the OS.
     
  3. mal1930

    mal1930

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    Hi XP usually asks you where you want it to install itself. In this instance it saw win98 on your drive and so it installed itself on the d drive. Windows expects the start up drive to be the C; drive and for some reason you do not have a dual boot system.

    I would have expected that to happen and your C drive would have remained the same.

    Seeing the registry is already wiped and you will have to reinstall your programs I suggest that it would be easier to clean your drives and start again designating the drive you want to install to when it asks you. I think it will tell you the size then so you will know which one. Once you install the drives will revert to C and D. The set up CD gives you a chance to reformat the drive. Peace Mal
     
  4. Tushman

    Tushman Banned

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    Mike i think you're starting off on some very erroneous assumptions and that is the source of your problem.

    Like others have mentioned here an upgrade CD and a full installation CD are two different things. By now after reading the other responses here, hopefully you now know WHY your OS isn't working the way it should. The reason why it keeps asking for your previous version of windows is that you have an upgrade CD - not the full version.

    If you are indeed trying to create a dual-boot on your system (Win98 and XP ) then you will need the FULL installation disk for both Win98 and Win XP.

    BTW, DOS is dead - that's old school. It's more like C++ now.
     
  5. Mike37

    Mike37 Thread Starter

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    OK guys, thanks for the suggestions. I must be getting old, or something . . . well, after all, I am 65 . . . anyway, you jogged my alleged mind; of course, my XP CD is an "upgrade" CD. The first time I installed XP it naturally saw Win98; the second time, it didn't so it called for my Win98 disk . . . Duh! Sorry, about that slip. Still, that doesn't explain why the install process switched my drive letters. XP installed itself on my original boot disk (drive 0, originally designated drive C:\ but reset it to drive D:\ after the install. So, XP is loaded on the big drive where it was previously alright but the problem is, it is now drive D:\.

    Actually, this is all beside the point now since I am going to reinstall XP on a reformatted hard drive. I just need some confidence that a reinstall will bring my drive letters back to their original setting i.e., boot drive designated C:\, backup drive designated D:\. What do you think?

    Here is my plan: Reformat my big drive (the boot drive) do nothing with my smaller backup drive as it has copies of my data files on it and simply reinstall XP.

    My assumption is that XP will install itself on the boot drive (now designated D:\) but will the drive latter remain D:\ or what? When will the drive letter designations be changed back?

    Regarding the suggestion one of you made that during the install process, XP will ask me which drive I want to install it on, I don't recall that XP offered me that alternative on my past two installs (the originall upgrade install, and the second reinstall after the crash). Can someone advise me on this point? That is, during the install process will XP offer the opportunity to select the drive on which it will be installed or will it simply install itself (presumably on the boot drive) without allowing me to make the choice?

    What would make me happy would be to get the drive letter designations changed back before I reinstall XP. Is there a way to do this? Can one go into the BIOS and make this change or not? Do any of you know anything about XPs Disk Management tool (under Computer Management, Storage) where ostensibly, one should be able to change drive letters? This tool is located as follows:
    Start menu
    Control Panel
    Performance & Maintenance
    Administrative Tools
    Computer Management
    Storage
    Disk Management
    Action (Toolbar menu at top of screen)
    All Tasks
    Change Drive Letters & Paths
    If you try to change the Drive letter of either C:\ or D:\ you get the following dropdown window message: "Windows cannot modify the drive letter of your System Volume or Boot Volume."

    So, again, how do you change the drive letters back? Or do you simply rely (hope) the XP install will do it?

    Again, thanks for your previous suggestions. Any further help will be greatly appreciated.
    Mike37
     
  6. Tushman

    Tushman Banned

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    Mike,

    If you want to start over and reformat, then i would make sure to have the latest drivers available and ready. That way after you reload windows you can have them prepared and ready to install.

    If you have a Win98 SE boot diskette, insert it into your A: drive and boot up with the disk inserted. You can then use the fdisk command to format your HDD. (Make sure you save any important files as fdisk will wipe away all the files sitting on your HDD).

    Since you only have the upgrade version of XP and not the full version, you will need to install Win98 first then install Win XP on top of that.

    Also, there should have been some CDs that came w/ your Dell computer. With my system, they included one called "Dell Resource CD". You should have one similar. On that CD you will find the appropriate drivers for your PC set up. Keep in mind that drivers are usually OS specific. Since you have an older model, i doubt that its going to have the XP drivers on that resource CD. If I were you, i would go to Dell's website, enter your your service tag number and download the XP drivers and save them on to a floppy or burn them to a CD if you have a CD burner.

    https://support.dell.com/register.aspx

    When i did my fresh install of my system few years back, I made the mistake of not loading my chipset drivers FIRST. Make sure you do so as it will pave the way for a much smoother installation of all your other devices.

    Personally, i have never worked with XP. But have done several installations of Windows 2000 Pro and from my experience with it, it does certainly give you the option to choose which partition/HDD you want to install. I can give you the exact steps involved it were full installation but since you're doing a upgrade - it's a bit different. Nonetheless, at some point in the early stages of the installation, XP should give you a menu where you can click on "Advanced" options. This is where you can choose exactly where to install the OS. If i can find a screenshot of the menu i'm talking about, i'll post back here for you.

    As for your drive letters - that i cannot give a definitive answer. I have used the disk management tool you mentioned to change the letters of my logical drives but my setup is a bit different from yours. I don't think that the tool will let you change the letter of the primary C: drive while you are still booted up in it.

    EDIT: By the way, after you fdisk your HDD, the lettering of your drives should return to normal. Do you have any partitions created on your HDD?
     
  7. Mike37

    Mike37 Thread Starter

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    Trushman,

    Thanks for the help. Both my HDDs have only a single partition. The large drive (my boot drive) came with the Dell. Sometime later I installed the second drive as a slave drive. This drive was formerly in my previous computer and had Win85 on it (I think; can't recall if I had upgraded to Win 98 before I purchased the Dell which came with Win98 on it). So, my Dell programs include a Win98 CD. Also, with the Dell came a Microsoft 1.44/3.5 inch "Boot Disk, Windows 98 Series" which I assume is just that, A boot disk. It is still in a sealed plastic bag as I have never used it. In addition, is a Dell Dimension Resource CD & Dell ConnectDirect (Dell's direct connection to the Internet) CD, plus 1.44 disks for Dell Diagnostics, Hard Drive Diagnostics & Utilities, and Dell DVD Decoder Card Customer Diagnostics.

    Regarding having a 3.5 boot disk, why do you recommend using the 1.44 boot disk rather then the Win98 CD? On the point of needing to reinstall Win98; previously, after the XP "non system disk" error message when I reinstalled XP, I did not reinstall Win98. I simply booted from the XP CD and when it asked for my Win98 CD, I put the Win98 disk in the CD drive, and XP went on to install itself. I did not have to reinstall 98 on my hard disk; so why should I have to do it this time?

    I really hate going to the trouble of reinstalling Win98 before I reinstall XP. It may be worth purchasing the complete version of XP. The longer I use Windows (over twenty years now) the more I hate it. If it were not for the fact that the majority of my graphics programs will not run on Linux, I would switch in a heart beat!

    One would think by now Microsoft could engineer a reinstall without having to go back to square one reinstalling the previous version of Windows. In fact, I am bringing up this point again because, as stated above, Win98 was not on my hard drive last time when I reinstalled XP and it installed itself with only a request to see my previous Windows CD. Why not this time?

    Thanks again for the help.
    Mike37
     
  8. Rollin' Rog

    Rollin' Rog

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    If it works like it did with previous versions, even though you have the upgrade, you should not be required to reinstall Win98. You will just need to insert it to verify that you had it, even with a clean format.
     
  9. Mike37

    Mike37 Thread Starter

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    Rollin' Rog,

    Thanks! That is what I thought, but needed some confirmation.
    Well, this afternoon I clean of the HDD and do a reinstall. Any other suggestions beyond unhooking all my pirpherals before I reinstall? I'm thinking that If I do it that way, I won't have any driver problems to start with. And as I reinstall the peripherals, I can have the driver disks on hand.

    Any other helpful hints or suggestions will be appreciated. It has been a number of years since I had a OS crash and had to reinstall everything so any help would be good.

    Regards,
    Mike37
     
  10. Rollin' Rog

    Rollin' Rog

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  11. mal1930

    mal1930

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    Hi, As I said before Windows expects the OS to be on c Drive. If you are worried just go slow when you are first setting up the install as I am absolutely certain that it will ask you where you want to install it.

    65 is not old, I am 72 but most days feel like 92. Peace Mal
     
  12. Mike37

    Mike37 Thread Starter

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    mal1930

    Thanks again for the reassurance. I am about to quit now and begin the procedure. Wish me luck. I will be back when it is all over to let you all know how it went. Again, thank you all for your suggestions . . . greatly appreciated.

    Mike37
     
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