Windows 98 Home   All Products  |   Support  |   Search  | Home  
  Windows Home  |
Search for
Using Windows 98 Download Support

  Windows 98 Home

Getting Your Work Done

Communicating with Others

Exploring the Internet

Maintaining Your Computer

Having Fun


Maintaining Your Computer

Give startup problems the boot

by Mark Reed

Computer, hand, and diskDespite its awesome power, your computer is not necessarily impervious to certain perils, whether caused by a computer virus, software downloaded from the Web, or simply general wear. Even a small hard disk problem can cause you to lose days or even months of your hard work.

Luckily, in the event a problem prevents you from starting Windows 98, you can use a Windows 98 startup disk, sometimes called a “boot disk,” to start your computer, gain access to your system files, run diagnostic programs, and fix problems. It can be an ounce (or a megabyte) of prevention, should your hard disk fall upon hard times.

What is a startup disk?
You can use the Windows 98 startup disk to start your computer from its floppy drive if it will not start from the hard drive. Using the disk, you can get your computer running again, so you can start fixing what is wrong. The startup disk will also restore minimal display settings, which will help if something has gone wrong with your settings and you are unable to see your desktop. The disk contains:

  • CD-ROM drivers (software programs that enable a computer to work with a particular device) that allow your CD-ROM drive to function if your computer is having problems communicating with it.
  • Small Computer System Interface (SCSI) drivers, which work with your hard drive and some peripherals.
  • System and diagnostic programs, such as ScanDisk, that check your hard disk for errors and help diagnose problems after you get your computer started.

How to create a startup disk
Normally, you would create a startup disk when you installed Windows 98. If you never made a startup disk, if you have lost it, or if yours is old (Startup disks created with previous versions of Windows are not compatible with Windows 98.), now is a great time to make a new one. It’s easy.

To create a boot disk, you will need a blank, 1.2 megabyte (MB) disk. You may also need your Windows 98 CD, so be sure to have it handy. To create a startup disk:

  1. Click Start, point to Settings, click Control Panel, and then click Add/Remove Programs.
  2. Click the Startup Disk tab, and then click the Create Disk button.
  3. Label a floppy disk "Windows 98 Startup Disk," insert the disk in your floppy disk drive when prompted, and then click OK. Click OK again, and then follow the instructions on your screen.
  4. Store the disk in a safe place.

What else can you do to protect yourself?
Practicing regular computer maintenance is always a good idea, and can be particularly helpful if you are recovering from a system crash. Windows 98 comes with tools such as Disk Defragmenter to help keep your computer in top shape.

Under normal operation, files and applications that are stored on your computer are often divided into small units and scattered around the hard disk, which can make recovering them very difficult. Disk Defragmenter places files and applications into contiguous groups, thereby improving the chances of recovering your data (since files will not be scattered all over the drive), and keeping your system operating at optimum speed. Other tools in Windows 98 for keeping your system healthy include:

  • Disk Cleanup: Cleans your computer's hard disk by removing files you don't need, and lets you know when your hard disk is getting full.
  • ScanDisk: Checks your computer's files, folders, data structures, and the surface of the disk for errors. It finds and fixes errors, helps you regain unused disk space, and makes your computer run more efficiently.
  • Maintenance wizard: Performs maintenance tasks automatically, or at times that you schedule.

Computer viruses can also cause any number of problems, including a system crash. Microsoft recommends you always use current anti-virus software, available from a number of third-party vendors. Many anti-virus programs also allow you to create a startup disk.

Finally, if you do run into trouble and don't have a startup disk, many computer manufacturers offer them for download on their Web sites. But if you make a one now and put it in a safe place, you won't have to rely on your friend's computer for Web access when you are having problems.


Mark Reed
Mark Reed
had been kicking around the idea of making a boot disk--until now.

Fundamentals of maintaining your computer:
Keeping your computer properly maintained is easy, and can improve performance and help you recover from a system crash. Learn the basics of cleaning up your hard disk, organizing your files, and more.

More resources:
Computing Central's Hardware Forum is a resource for the latest hardware news and discussions, from computing basics to technical hardware conflict resolutions.