How to re-install Windows ME

Question: I bought Windows Millennium Edition and installed it over Windows 98. Now, though, I’ve decided that I should have installed it on a clean hard drive. So can you tell me how to do that? – Mel

Answer: Microsoft has come a long way with system reinstalls. You’ll find the process below very easy to follow.

  1. First of all, back up all crucial non-Windows data. That includes your mail program data, text and image files, and anything else you can’t reinstall from a CD later. Be thorough in your backing up, because everything on the drive will be destroyed during this process.
  2. Now find the boot disk you got with your Windows ME installation CD. If you want, you can make a new disk as follows:
    1. Go to Start > Settings > Control Panel, and double-click Add/Remove Programs, then select the Startup Disk tab.
    2. Put a diskette in your floppy drive and click Create Disk.
    3. A boot disk will be made for you. This can take three to five minutes.
  3. With the boot disk in the floppy drive, restart the machine. You will be presented with four options:
    * Help
    * Start with CD-ROM support
    * Start without CD-ROM support
    * Minimal Boot
  4. Choose Start with CD-ROM support and wait for the machine to go through the start-up process. Once the A: prompt appears, type a:format c: and hit Enter. (Note to veterans: The /s command is no longer necessary and is not supported under Windows ME).
  5. The system will reformat the drive, and then display the amount of free space. It will also prompt you to enter a volume label, which is the name of the hard disk. Enter anything you like, or simply hit the Enter key for no name.
  6. If your drive has been sub-divided (also called “partitioned”), repeat the format procedure on the second partition. For example, if the D drive is a hard drive partition, type the command format d:
  7. Now your hard drive is ready for a new installation of Windows ME. Put the Windows ME installation CD in the CD drive and type x:setup, where X is the CD drive letter. It is probably D.
  8. Windows ME will then run the Scandisk utility on your hard drive to check for errors. Once it finishes, click Exit and let the rest of the installation proceed. Keep your Product Key handy (that's the really long code on the back of the CD sleeve) because you'll have to enter that before the installation proceeds. Upgrade copies of the Windows ME require you to have a previous version of Windows handy because the system will ask for it to verify you are eligible to install the upgrade. When prompted, you'll have to put it into either the floppy or CD drive for verification, depending on which operating system you are upgrading from. Be aware that there are three possible Windows ME products. A full version requires no previous software verification. An upgrade from Windows (about $169) requires the insertion of a Windows 95 disk or CD during the upgrade process. The upgrade from Windows 98 (about $85) requires the Win 98 CD.
  9. The rest of the installation is pretty straightforward. Follow the prompts until the process finishes. You will be prompted to restart. Make sure you remove the floppy disk from the floppy drive, label it, and put it in a safe place. Also, be sure to keep the previous Windows CD with the upgrade package so you can verify you own it in the event of any future reinstallations.

Q: Do I have to reinstall and reformat?

A. It's a good idea, but if you don't want to commit the time and effort, there is software that might help improve your system performance. Review this article Do I really have to reformat and reinstall? which should prove useful.