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How to Build a Computer [Part 3 of 3] (Page 3/4)

Written By: Keith "Farrel" McClellan
Posted: February 18, 2000

Click here for Part 1 of this guide

Click here for Part 2 of this guide

Click here for Part 3 of this guide

Configuring the BIOS

If you're here, you should already be inside your BIOS and have made sure everything is working properly. Here are a couple of settings you will want to play around with before installing Windows:

- Unless you are in Japan, turn off Mode 3 Floppy drive support
- Turn on Quickboot/quickpost/etc.
- Disable Boot up floppy seek

For more in-depth coverage of the BIOS, check out our article on the subject here.

Installing Windows

To install Windows, first you will need to boot the system into DOS. To do this, take your boot disk, insert it in your floppy drive, and reboot the computer. This should work unless you disabled the floppy drive on your computer in the BIOS - if you did that, go back and re-enable it.

If you got a retail full version of Windows 98, it should have come with a boot disk. If, for some reason, you lost it or something, any boot disk with a working CD driver on it should work (like the standard Win98 Emergency Startup Disk). This means you should have access to your floppy drive and your CD-ROM drive after boot. Most likely, however, your hard drive isn't formatted yet, so we'll have to deal with that next.

Before you format your hard disk, you need to partition it. And unless you own a copy of partition magic or another such program, you are stuck with old, archaic Fdisk. At the A: prompt, type in Fdisk to go into the program. Create a primary partition (your C drive) using fdisk and then restart the computer. Afterwards, you will once again need to reboot. Once you have rebooted the computer, type format C: /s (the /s makes the drive bootable) at the A: prompt and go do something else for about half an hour while it formats. When it is done, we recommend copying the Windows "cab" files (located in the \Win98 directory on the CD) onto the hard drive. This will make the installation faster.

So now that your disk is partitioned and formatted, reboot your computer once more. If you haven't copied the Windows cab files on the CD over to the hard drive, you'll need the boot disk and the Windows CD in their respective drives. You have to run setup.exe. You do this by going to your CD drive (typically d:\) and then typing in setup, or if you copied over the cab files, go into the folder you created on your hard drive (\win98?) and type setup. Go through the Windows installation program as normal. If you want more information on this subject, check out the Installing / Reinstalling Win9x guide and the Dual Boot guide.

Troubleshooting a Failed Installation

What should you do if you can't finish the installation because the program keeps crashing? Just like Windows, huh? Well, believe it or not, they did do a decent job on the installer - but it does stress your computer's components. This means that if you've got a bad or improperly installed part, things aren't going to work. Here are a few things to check before you go running back to the store with your computer in hand screaming, "You sold me a bad part!"

- Make sure the CAS rating in the BIOS is the right one for the ram. Most of the time, you will want it set to 3, unless you specifically bought CAS-2 ram.
- Make sure all of your components are plugged in firmly (push down on them)
- Check all of your cables again
- If you are using a slotkey in your system, make sure it is inserted properly - sometimes, particularly with the older models, it doesn't always make full connection with the motherboard.

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