How to format the primary partition on a machine running XP?

Discussion in 'Computer Support' started by Bowman, Jul 13, 2004.

  1. Bowman

    Bowman Guest

    I have a 40G hard drive, divided into a 10G primary partition (the C: drive)
    and a 30G extended partition (the D: drive). I was running WinXP Pro on
    the C: . My D: is just for storing data and backups.

    I want to completely wipe and format the C: and do a completely fresh
    install of XP Pro onto it.

    The Disk Management Tools in XP won't let me format the C: which makes sense
    to me as it is the active partition is running, and can't delete itself
    while running, so to speak. So I thought the XP disk would let me do this,
    but my attempts so far have failed.

    My first attempt simply reinstalled the operating system on the C: but did
    not wipe the previous contents of the drive.

    My second attempt appeared successfull, until i realized it had actually
    installed XP onto the D: (which i did not want to do). So now i have 2
    functioning copies of win xp - one on each partition! I tried to format
    the C: whilst running the XP from the D:, but it still won't let me delete
    the C: as it is still the primary partition.

    I considered using a Win98 system disk to format the C: in DOS, but it
    seemed to have trouble distinguishing between the 2 partitions, and i was
    concerned that it would delete both partitions if i tried.

    Anyone have any ideas?

    I have presumably left out pertinent info, so if there's anything extra info
    needed to diagnose this problem, just let me know and i'll post it.

    Thanks in advance,
    Bowman, Jul 13, 2004
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  2. Bowman

    Toolman Tim Guest

    It's primarily a problem in following the prompts during the XP install. It
    *is* possible to do what you intended by deleting the C: partition, then
    creating it again during the install. You will need to be very careful then
    to select the correct partition to continue the install, otherwise it might
    again install XP to the D: partition.

    Personally I wouldn't do the Win98 method of partitioning/formatting. It
    uses FAT32, and given the choice, I'd always use NTFS.

    When you get the C: partition booting correctly, you will have to deal with
    the "extra" installation that's on the D: partition. First of all, the
    Boot.ini file on the C: drive will probably offer you the option to boot
    from either partition. You can edit that file to remove the reference to the
    D: drive. Then you should be able to delete the Windows directory, the
    Program Files directory, and probably the Documents and Settings directory
    from the D: partition. Be sure to look them over carefully first to see if
    there is any data there you might want to keep before deleting them!
    Toolman Tim, Jul 13, 2004
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  3. You will need to boot the computer from the XP pro CD and follow the
    instructions. When it lists the 2 partitions on the drive, you have the
    option to delete the partitions. Delete the 30gb partition then delete the
    10 gb partition. This will leave the 40gb unpartitioned. XP will format
    and install automatically. If you still wish to split the drive, you can
    also select how much for the C partition and when XP is installed, format
    the D partition.

    Mike (NZ)
    Mike Robinson, Jul 13, 2004
  4. Bowman

    Bowman Guest


    Thank you for responses, Tim and Mike.

    As I want to preserve the data and backups in my D: , I'll try your method
    I didn't do this originally because I was under the impression that you
    could not delete a primary partition without first deleting the extended
    partitions (and this latter bit i was trying to avoid.) But this is not
    the case?

    Bowman, Jul 14, 2004
  5. Bowman

    Toolman Tim Guest

    That was true of the DOS and W9x FDISK.EXE program. Partition Magic and
    other similar programs were able to work around this issue. And I believe XP
    does as well. But I can't promise that - so make good backups (address book,
    personal data, IE favorites, email message store, etc.)! Maybe two...and
    test them!
    Toolman Tim, Jul 15, 2004
  6. Bowman

    Bowman Guest

    Hi Tim,
    You were right. I double-checked on some Microsoft KB articles before
    proceeding, but yes, XP is able to delete the primary partition without
    affecting the other partitions. Everying has been fixed and is working

    I think my brain sometimes gets stuck in a W9x mindset when i try to fix
    stuff! Thanks for info. :)

    Bowman, Jul 18, 2004
  7. Bowman

    Toolman Tim Guest

    I understand the 9x mindset too. I did jump to XP much faster than I jumped
    from 3.x to 95 though. And I *still* have DOS machines on the office network
    <g> (what a die-hard!)
    Toolman Tim, Jul 18, 2004
  8. Bowman


    Aug 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Can Not Format My Drive C: :(

    I have an IBM Laptop R32. It has No CD drive and NO Floppy drive. I format it by copying the Win XP CD from another computer over the Network. It ALWAYS WORKED. But Since i got a virus it started to take 5 gb. Even after removing the virus and formating my PC.
    Can anybody plz help
    Thanks In advance
    yusofyaghi90, Aug 15, 2007
  9. Bowman


    Oct 18, 2009
    Likes Received:
    Format of primary partition

    I have a similar problem. As my C:drive on which my Win xp pro resided was giving a lot of trouble related to the OS, I loaded win xp on to my D: drive and am using it for booting. I have deleted all my data files from C: and now want to get rid of the OS altogether, and use D: for booting and C: only for data. I have two other drives E: and F: for data
    Can I format C: while retaining D: as my boot drive ?
    sam500016, Oct 18, 2009
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