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
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
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
- Small Computer System Interface
(SCSI) drivers, which work
with your hard drive and some peripherals.
- System and diagnostic
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
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.
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:
- Click Start, point to Settings, click Control Panel, and then click Add/Remove Programs.
- Click the Startup Disk tab, and then click the Create Disk button.
- 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.
- Store the disk in a safe place.
What else can you do to protect
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
Cleanup: Cleans your computer's hard disk by removing
files you don't need, and lets you know when your hard disk is
- 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
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
Mark Reed had been kicking around the idea
of making a boot disk--until
Fundamentals of maintaining your
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
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