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Article ID: 313348 - Last Review: June 7, 2013 - Revision: 9.1

This article was previously published under Q313348
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INTRODUCTION

This article describes how to partition (prepare) and format a hard disk using the Windows XP Setup program before you install Windows XP. This article also contains things to consider before you partition or format your hard disk, and links to resources that can help you troubleshoot if problems occur. This article is intended for an advanced user.

Before you partition and format the hard disk

Before you partition and format your hard disk, make sure that you do the following:

Prepare the hard disk according to the manufacturer's instructions

If you are using a SATA hard disk, skip this step and go to the "Determine the kind of file system that you want to use" section. If you are using an IDE hard disk, set the jumpers and the cabling according to the role of the hard disk (for example, master or subordinate) and make any required BIOS (or CMOS) changes. To set the jumpers and cabling, and make any required BIOS or CMOS changes, see the documentation that was included with your hard disk and motherboard, or contact the manufacturers.

Determine the kind of file system that you want to use

You can use either the NTFS or FAT file systems. NTFS is the preferred file system to format the hard disk unless you want to run an earlier version of Windows that cannot read NTFS partitions. For additional information about the differences between the FAT and NTFS file systems, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
100108  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/100108/ ) Overview of FAT, HPFS, and NTFS file systems
310525  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/310525/ ) Description of the FAT32 file system in Windows XP

If the hard disk already contains data, back it up

Make sure that you back up all your important data before you continue. When you partition and format a hard disk, all the data on that partition is permanently deleted. You can view current partition information without deleting your data. For additional information about how to use the backup utility or the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
320820  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/320820/ ) How to use the Backup utility to back up files and folders in Windows XP Home Edition
309340  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/309340/ ) How to use Backup to restore files and folders on your computer in Windows XP
293118  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/293118/ ) How to use the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard
306186  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/306186/ ) How to use the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard from CD-ROM
306187  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/306187/ ) How to use the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard Disk in Windows XP

If the hard disk has a drive overlay or a disk management program, make sure that it is compatible

If your computer uses a drive overlay program for large hard disk support, do not use the Windows XP Setup program to partition or to format the drive until you have verified that Windows XP is compatible with the program. If you have a drive overlay program installed, contact the program manufacturer to determine whether it is compatible with Windows XP. For information about how to determine whether a drive overlay program is installed, see Microsoft Knowledge Base article 186057: How to Tell If Drive Overlay Program Is Installed in Windows (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/186057) . Or, contact the manufacturer of your hard disk drive or motherboard.

If you have programs that you want to reinstall, make sure that you have the disks

Make sure that you have the original CDs or floppy disks so that you can reinstall the programs after you partition and format your drive. If you purchased an upgrade for a program, make sure that you have the full version of the original program. Many upgrades for programs require a compliance check before you can install the upgraded product. If you cannot find the original CDs or floppy disks, contact the program manufacturer before you continue.

If you have updated device drivers for peripheral devices, back them up

If you have installed an updated device driver for your peripheral devices (for example, modems and printers), make sure that you back up the new driver for the device to a location other than the drive that you want to format and partition so that you can reinstall it after you install your operating system.

Configure your computer to start from the CD or DVD drive

To start your computer from the Windows XP CD, your computer must be configured to start from the CD or DVD drive. In some cases, you may have to change your computer's BIOS settings to set this configuration. For information about how to configure your computer to start from the CD or DVD drive, see the documentation that is included with your computer, or contact the computer manufacturer.

If you have a computer that cannot start from the CD or DVD drive and you must start your computer from the startup disk, make sure that you have the floppy setup disks so that you can run the Setup program from the floppy disk drive.

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Note You can obtain Windows XP Setup boot disks from Microsoft, but only by download. We provide the Setup boot disks so that you can run the Setup program on computers that cannot use a bootable CD-ROM. If you can start your computer from a CD-ROM or from a network-based installation, we strongly recommend that you use those installation methods instead. Future products will no longer support installation by using the Setup boot disks.

For information about how to obtain the Setup boot disks, see Microsoft Knowledge Base article 310994: How to obtain Windows XP Setup disks for a floppy boot installation (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/310994) .

How to partition and format the hard disk by using the Windows XP Setup program

You can use the Windows XP Setup program to partition and format the hard disk. To do this, follow these steps:

Step 1: Partition the hard disk

  1. Insert the Windows XP CD into your CD or DVD drive, or insert the first Windows XP Setup disk into the floppy disk drive, and then restart the computer to start the Windows XP Setup program.

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    Note If you are using the Windows XP Setup disks, insert each additional disk when you are prompted, and then press ENTER to continue after you insert each disk.
  2. If you are prompted, select any options that are required to start the computer from the CD or DVD drive.
  3. If your hard disk controller requires a third-party OEM driver, press F6 to specify the driver. For more information about how to use F6 to supply a third-party OEM device driver while the Windows Setup program is running, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
    314859  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/314859/ ) Limited OEM driver support is available with F6 during Windows XP Setup
  4. At the Welcome to Setup page, press ENTER.

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    Note If you are using the Setup disks (six bootable disks), the setup prompts you to insert the Windows XP CD.
  5. Press F8 to accept the Windows XP Licensing Agreement.
  6. If an existing Windows XP installation is detected, you are prompted to repair it. To bypass the repair, press ESC.
  7. All existing partitions and non-partitioned spaces are listed for each physical hard disk. Use the ARROW keys to select an existing partition, or create a new partition by selecting the non-partitioned space where you want to create a new partition. You can also press C to create a new partition using non-partitioned space.

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    Note If you want to create a partition where one or more partitions already exist, you must first delete the existing partition or partitions, and then create the new partition. You can press D to delete an existing partition, and then press L (or press ENTER, and then press L if it is the System partition) to confirm that you want to delete the partition. Repeat this step for each existing partition that you want to include in the new partition. When all the partitions are deleted, select the remaining non-partitioned space, and then press C to create the new partition.
  8. To create the partition with the maximum size, press ENTER. To specify the partition size, type the size in megabytes (MB) for the new partition, and then press ENTER.
  9. If you want to create additional partitions, repeat steps g. and h.
  10. To format the partition and install Windows XP, go to step 2.

    If you do not want to install Windows XP, press F3 two times to exit the Windows Setup program, and then do not follow the remaining steps in this article.

    To format the partition without installing Windows XP, use a different utility.

Step 2: Format the hard disk and install Windows XP

  1. Use the ARROW keys to select the partition where you want to install Windows XP, and then press ENTER.
  2. Select the format option that you want to use to format the partition. You can select from the following options:
    • Format the partition by using the NTFS file system (Quick)
    • Format the partition by using the FAT file system (Quick)
    • Format the partition by using the NTFS file system
    • Format the partition by using the FAT file system
    • Leave the current file system intact (no changes)
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    Notes
    • If the selected partition is a new partition, the option to leave the current file system intact is not available.
    • If the selected partition is larger than 32 gigabytes (GB), the FAT file system option is not available.
    • If the selected partition is larger than 2 GB, the Windows Setup program uses the FAT32 file system (you must press ENTER to confirm).
    • If the partition is smaller than 2 GB, the Windows Setup program uses the FAT16 file system.
    • If you deleted and created a new System partition, but you are installing Windows XP on a different partition, you are prompted to select a file system for both the System and Startup partitions.
  3. Press ENTER.
  4. After the Windows Setup program formats the partition, follow the instructions to install Windows XP. After the Windows Setup program is finished and you have restarted the computer, you can use the Disk Management tools in Windows XP to create or format more partitions. For additional information about how to use the Windows XP Disk Management tools to partition and format your hard disk, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
    309000  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/309000/ ) How to use Disk Management to configure basic disks in Windows XP

Additional notes

Before you can install an operating system such as Windows XP, you must first create a primary partition on the first physical hard disk (Disk 0) on your computer. Then, you can format a file system on that partition to create what is called the System partition.

Or, you can create a separate partition for the operating system on any physical hard disk. This is known as the Startup partition. The System partition on Disk 0 can also be used as a Startup partition.

You can use other methods to partition and format the hard disk before you install Windows XP, such as the Fdisk and Format tools. For additional information about how to use Fdisk and Format to partition and format your hard disk, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base: 255867  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/255867/ ) How to use the Fdisk tool and the Format tool to partition or to repartition a hard disk

If your computer is already running Windows XP, and you want to create partitions other than the System or the Startup partitions, you can use the Windows XP Disk Management tools. For additional information about how to use the Windows XP Disk Management tools to partition and format your hard disk, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base: 309000  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/309000/ ) How to use Disk Management to configure basic disks in Windows XP

TROUBLESHOOTING


For additional information about how to troubleshoot partition problems in Windows XP, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
316505  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/316505/ ) Windows XP does not recognize all available disk space
310359  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/310359/ ) Cannot view NTFS logical drive after using Fdisk
310561  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/310561/ ) Maximum partition size using the FAT16 file system in Windows XP
314097  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/314097/ ) How to use Convert.exe to convert a partition to the NTFS file system
301340  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/301340/ ) During Setup you are unable to format a partition with a File Allocation Table format
307844  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/307844/ ) How to change drive letter assignments in Windows XP
315224  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/315224/ ) How to remove the Linux LILO Boot Manager

References



For additional information, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
314470  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/314470/ ) Definition of System partition and Boot partition
314878  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/314878/ ) The default cluster size for the NTFS and FAT file systems
310525  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/310525/ ) Description of the FAT32 file system in Windows XP
314081  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/314081/ ) The purpose of the Boot.ini file in Windows XP
For additional information about how to create and manage partitions in Windows XP, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
307654  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/307654/ ) How to install and use the Recovery Console in Windows XP
Note This is a "FAST PUBLISH" article created directly from within the Microsoft support organization. The information contained herein is provided as-is in response to emerging issues. As a result of the speed in making it available, the materials may include typographical errors and may be revised at any time without notice. See Terms of Use (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=151500) for other considerations.

Applies to
  • Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional
Keywords: 
kbpubtypekc kbfilesystems kbsetup kbtshoot kbhowtomaster kbenv KB313348
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