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Windows 98 (yes, I know.....) startup problems

By teaspoon ยท 5 replies
Jun 22, 2006
  1. Hello, i am new here, and I need some help. My sister has not been very wise with her computer, which has led to it being almost completely destroyed, in my opinion. Every single time she tries to start it up, she gets an error message,

    "This program has performed an illegal operation and will now close"

    or something like that, i forget the exact wording.

    I have tried to fix it, tried running it in safe mode, tried a clean install of the OS, which didn't run for some reason, even though I reconfigured the startup to run only off the cd, and now, I've taken her hard drive out, and plugged it into my pc, with the intention of formatting the hard drive and reinstalling windows from my pc. Every time i plug both my HD and her HD in together, the pc crashes after trying (and failing) to detect the hard drives.

    If I plug her HD in by itself, I get the same problem as she had on her PC, namely, explorer.exe crashes after causing an illegal operation. Soooooo, my question is, is it possible to format the hard drive without actually starting Windows? Or, is there anything else I can do at all? I can't provide a Hijackthis log because, like I said, there's no way to startup my pc if her HD is plugged in.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated

  2. fastco

    fastco TS Booster Posts: 1,123

    Plug it back in your computer as a secondary master, or primary slave and try to right click the hard drive in MY Computer and hit Format. If you haven't already tried that. Make sure the jumper is set to cable select, not master.
  3. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    that's slave, not cable select

    Is the computer old enough to still be running Win98? If so, will probably not have the correct (72line) cables for cable select to work. The second HD should be set to 'slave' and added on the same cable as your existing hard drive (just unplug from your CD/DVD).

    A better method is leave the HD on the original PC, and use a floppy drive to start the PC in Dos. You can either create a startup floppy from Win98 or download one from the web. Then use Fdisk if required to re-build partitions, or just 'Format c:'. After which, you can re-install Win98. YOU LOSE EVERYTHING on the HD - be warned.

    If you have the original install CD, you don't even need to use a floppy. I don't see why you cannot set the bios to boot from the CD. Take the option to start with CD support. After a few messages, you will then be at an E: or F: prompt, and the tools FDISK and FORMAT will be available.

    In fact, before even re-formatting, just first try entering 'SYS C:' This just might make the existing OS load if certain startup files have been messed up. Worth a try, but from what you describe, it does seem a full re-install will be a better bet.
  4. alidabiri

    alidabiri TS Rookie Posts: 441

    this is what you need to do:
    get a 98 floppy boot disk from www.bootdisk.com
    start your pc with boot disk in the machine
    after win98 comes up, enter fdisk
    display partition(s) (if any)
    delete partition(s)
    create new partition
    format the hard disk
    turn pc off
    put win98 cd in the cdrom drive
    restart with cdrom support and 98 floppy boot disk
    install win98
  5. N3051M

    N3051M TS Evangelist Posts: 2,115

    Big give-away.
    Do a scandisk or chkdsk /f and also find out the make of the hdd, and download the diagnostic utility from that maker. It may be the hdd is starting to fail, or is failing..

    three most common ones for desktops:
    www.seagate.com ---> seagate Disc Doctor
    www.maxtor.com ---> Powermax..
    www.westerndigital.com ---> i forgot.. :D
  6. russ

    russ TS Rookie Posts: 39

    Windows 98 creates a file called "system.1st" located in the root c:\ drive when it first installs windows. This is the same file as your "system.dat" file located in the c:\windows folder. This file is a major file in your registry. You can rename this file to system.dat and copy it to your c:\windows folder. If you use this method you have to have the OEM number of the cd disk that you will use to install the OS (even though you will not be using the disk). You have to "attrib" the "system.dat file to be un-hidden in windows also the "system.1st" file may have to be attribed unhidden.. This will work if you can get into "DOS' before bootup(pressing F8 or F2 while booting). You still may have to use a boot floppy for this to work. The "DOS" commands are (I think):
    cd \ to get from windows to c:\
    attrib -h -r -s system.1st #to unhide system.1st
    xcopy system.1st c:\temp #to save a copy of system.1st in temp folder
    ren system.1st system.dat #renames system.1st
    attrib -h -r -s c:\windows\system.dat #to unhide system.dat in windows
    copy system.dat c:\windows /y #hopefully writes over windows system.dat
    if you are able to get this far you should be able to reboot keeping your OEM number handy. If you cannot overwrite the system.dat file in windows then you will have to use a boot floppy to do the above
    YOU might want to see if you have backup copies of your registry that the manufactorer made when the computer was made BEFORE YOU DO THE ABOVE. Do a search is DOS
    attrib -h -r -s c:\windows\system.*
    attrib -h -r -s c:\windows\user.*
    "dir system.bak /s" and "dir user.bak /s"
    The system.dao and user.dao files are useless in this situation.
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