Installing Windows 2000

Marco Von Ballmoos


These instructions are for installing Windows 2000 from scratch. If you have an existing installation of any flavor of Windows, it will show you how to get rid of it and install cleanly. These are not step-by-step instructions because, quite frankly, I'm not going to re-install one of my systems just to make sure I don't miss a step in this guide. Also, there are numerous places that you may want to utter small prayers or big curses and other places where you hold your breath. Those are not documented, but are implied because of the vendor of the product. Feel free to put them in where you wish. With the warnings out of the way, on to the guide, but remember: your mileage may vary.

You will basically be doing the following steps:

  1. Create or obtain Windows 2000 setup disks (made from the type of installation you're doing, Server or Professional)
  2. Locate a utility for managing disk partitions
  3. Clear the partition to which you'll be installing
  4. Reboot with the Windows 2000 disks
  5. Install Windows 2000

Windows 2000 Setup Disks

If you don't already have these, you will have to make them. On any installation of Windows 2000, there is a 'BootDisk' folder, usually located inside the obvious folder. On some disks (like MSDN copies), it's in /ENGLISH/WIN2000/PRO/BOOTDISK, but it's usually relatively obvious. As a last resort, do a file search on BOOTDISK, MAKEBT32.EXE or MAKEBOOT.EXE.

You'll need 4 disks if you have to make them. Run MAKEBT32.EXE or MAKEBOOT.EXE and follow the instructions. This should work from Windows 98 or 2000.

Partition Management

Partition Magic

If you have a copy of Desktop Superstars 2.4 or higher, you should have a copy of PartitionMagic 7.0. Install this into your existing operating system and start it up. The interface is pretty intuitive. The program allows you to create, delete, move and resize partitions. If you have only one, so much the easier. Select the partition you want to reformat and delete it. You have to click 'apply' to make the changes happen. This will reboot your computer and will leave you in DOS.

If you have a lot of space (I would recommend about a 5GB partition for Windows 2000 if you can do it), then you can be a little fancier here. You can actually save your data to another partition so you don't lose everything when you reformat. This takes some time and has to be done in several steps, but it's pretty easy and foolproof (though I've heard that saying something is foolproof implies a finite number of fools). This is not necessarily temporary either. You only need to delete enough space in the partition to create a new partition (because Windows 'upgrades' are notoriously flaky, more so than usual). The extra partition you make to hold your files can be permanent and serve as a games/user/music disk whereas the other is the systems/applications disk. Do what suits you.

You can also make Partition Magic Rescue Disks from the installation (it will prompt you when you install). These can be used to boot the computer and make partition changes from outside of Windows. The interface is exactly the same and will require the same actions. It's a good idea to make these in any case so that you can 'adjust' your partitions after your system is gone, if you find it necessary. You shouldn't need to, but it's a security blanket.

  1. Use PartitionMagic to resize your existing partition
  2. Create a new partition in the space you made (make it FAT32 if you're currently using Windows 98 and NTFS if you're in Windows 2000. NTFS cannot be read from Windows 98. You can change the type to NTFS later when you've installed Windows 2000, if you like, though it's not terribly important (just doesn't fragment as quickly and offers security).
  3. Apply the changes (likely a reboot here)
  4. After the reboot, move the files you want to save from the system disk to the new partition. Don't bother moving programs; they probably won't work well after re-installing the operating system since they'll be looking in the registry for settings that are no longer there. Feel free to move anything you know will work though (many games do).
  5. Use PartitionMagic to delete the system partition.
  6. Apply the changes


If you do not have Partition Magic or if it does not work or if your system is completely *borked*, then you will have to use the old and venerable command-line utility, FDisk. The easiest way to do this is to run it from a Windows 98 boot disk. If you don't have one, you'll have to make one from an existing Windows 98 installation. Again, if your installation is *borked* or if you have Windows 2000, then you will have to ask a friend to do it.

Making a Windows 98 Boot Disk
  1. Go to the Control Panels
  2. Open 'Add/Remove Programs'
  3. Go to the 'Startup Disk' tab (or some name like that, I can't keep track of all the version)
  4. Make a 'Startup Disk'

Reboot your machine with the Startup Disk with or without CD-Rom support (without is faster). Go to the a:\ prompt and type fdisk. It will offer a menu of options. If the drive you want to clear is NTFS, make sure to select the 'non-DOS file system' option or you won't be able to delete it. Select the partition you want to reformat, gather up your courage and do it.

Installing Windows 2000

By this step, you should have a clean partition in which to install Windows 2000. This is actually the easiest step. Simply reboot the computer from your Windows 2000 boot disk and follow the instructions.

  1. It will ask for all four disks, then ask what you'd like to do. Tell it to 'install Windows 2000'. Do not repair it.
  2. It will then ask where you'd like to install. Accept the default folder (WINNT) unless you want to call it something clever, like REDMOND_CRAP or something (that's only clever know where Microsoft headquarters is...and then it's still not very clever, but I'm in a hurry).
  3. It will then ask in which partition you'd like to install. Your moment of glory has come. This is what you've prepared for. There should be free space that you created in the previous steps. Make sure that it is selected.
  4. It will also want to know what kind of file-system you'd like to use. Choose NTFS, it's much better than FAT32. The only drawback to NTFS is that it cannot be read from a Windows 98 floppy disk, so if you have problems, you'll have to use all 4 Windows 2000 disks to repair it. I've never had need to do so (well, once, but it didn't work, so it didn't matter).

From there, it should copy a bunch of files, then reboot and continue on a standard Windows installation.