Windows XP Help

Windows XP FAQ - Disks

1. How do I partition and format disks in XP?

When you first install Windows XP, as part of the setup process, there is a Drive Setup screen which will allow you to create and format one or more partitions which you can install XP on and others for data etc. In Windows itself, you can use the Disk Management snap-in (diskmgmt.msc) to partition and format disks. Please note that you cannot move or resize disks in XP, you need a third party utility such as Partition Magic.

2. I have Windows XP installed, but i need to reformat C:?

You cannot format C: while Windows is running. You can either boot from a floppy disk and use FDISK to delete any Non-Dos Partitions and create a new Primary Partition for older Windows. Alternatively you can boot from the Windows XP CD, use use the Drive Setup screen to delete and create new partitions for you. To boot from CD, you need to change the disk boot sequence in the BIOS (accessible when you first power up your PC) and make the CDROM drive first in sequence. Also, you can create XP Boot floppy disks to setup and install XP if you cannot boot from CD. Also, try the excellent gparted tool.

3. How do I use the built in CD Burning software?

Windows XP has a cut down version of Roxio's CD Burning Engine installed. Which will allow you to burn music, video or data to CDs. It cannot be used to copy CDs or write to CDs as a big floppy which requires CDRW Packet software like DirectCD or burn to DVDs. Please purchase Roxio Easy CD 5 or later or Nero 5.5. To use XP's burner, you need to enable the CD Burning software via the properties of your CDR drive in My Computer. Then in an Explorer CD, you can select the files and folders you need to copy to CD, and select 'Copy to CD' in the task pane. When you have copied all the files you need to copy, open My Computer and open CD drive icon and select 'Write these files to CD'. If you do not want to write these files, then select 'Delete temporary files'. For music, you can use Windows Media Player to read/write music to/from CD. More info is available in Help and Support pages.

4. I have added a new disk but does not show in My Computer?

You need to partition and assign a drive letter before it will appear in Explorer. Open Disk Management and on the Action menu select Rescan Disks. If a disk is show but options are greyed out, then select Initialise disk to write signature to the disk so Windows can use it. Then you can use Change Drive Letter and Paths to assign a drive letter to your new drive or partition.. The disk will then appear in My Computer.
Warning! Do NOT install XP Home if you had Windows 2000 Pro installed before and have disks as Dynamic, as XP Home cannot read Dynamic Disks, they will appear as Foreign Disks in Disk Management. To use such disks in XP Home, you will have to convert them to Basic Disks and that will lose data on the drive.

5. I have NTBackup but I cannot cannot select my CDRW drive?

NTBackup is designed to backup to tape or to a file on disk, it cannot use CDR or CDRW discs directly. You must backup to a file on your hard disk first and then burn the file to CD.

6. I want to do a backup but cannot find NTBackup or install it?

If you do not have NTBackup, then you can install it from your Windows XP CD, if its a restore CD, then use the File and Settings Transfer Wizard instead. Alternatively, try the many third party backup programs such as Retrospec, Acronis True Image, Paragon Backup or free backup tools from Tucows.

7. I have a DVD drive but unable to read DVD data disks?

You need to have a UDF file system program installed to read DVD disks. This is NOT installed by default. Some DVD Player software and DVD/CD Burner software have this included. Visit the Roxio web site for a UDF Reader program. Look for c:\Windows\System32\Driver\udfs.sys to see if you have a driver installed. Check this Trouble Shooting guide to solve other DVD problems.

8. I have added a new disk but its moved the driver letters around?

Windows will always allocate drive letters for Primary Partitions before Extended partitions. So, I you have a hard disk with 1 primary and 1 extended partition (C:, D:), and add a second disk with a primary partition, the exended partition on the first partition will be moved up to a different letter (E:). Drive letters can be changed back using the Disk Management Administrative Tool.

9. I have a new hard disk, but it will only recognised xxGB of disk space?

This can be due to a limitation in the BIOS, you need to either change the Access Mode to LBA (Logical Block Addressing) 48 bit mode so that it can recognise drives over 137Gb, in the Standard CMOS Features screen. You should either upgrade the BIOS with a firmware update or buy a seperate IDE controller with 48 bit LBA functionality and you need at least Service Pack 1.

10. Which file system should I format my hard disk with?

There are three filesystems: FAT, FAT32 and NTFS. Windows XP can handle all three and you can use different file systems on the same or different disks if you wish. If you are formatting drives over 32Gb in size then I suggest you use NTFS. Use FAT32 only if you are dual-booting with older versions of Windows. NTFS also supports File and Folder Security, Compressed files and folders and on XP Pro you can use EFS (Encrypted File System) as well.

11. I have inserted a CD but it will not autorun?

Make sure you have at least Administrator or Power Users rights, otherwise for Limited users, Autorun has been disabled. Also, check that Auto run has not been disabled in the registry, see HKEY_LOCALMACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\Cdrom and makesure Autorun=1.

12. I haved inserted a blank CDR/CDRW or DVD disc but its not recognised?

If it says something like ' Unable to access the disk in drive D: Please make sure the drive is ready and the disk is not write-protected.' then your system does not have any Packet writing (UdF/CDRW) software installed. You must save your files to the Hard disc and then Burn the files to CD using XP's built in CD burning software. Note that Windows XP cannot burn to DVD discs either, you need third party software such as Easy CD Creator 6 or Nero 6. Check here for list of supported drives for Nero or Easy CD.
In some cases, if a new CD is inserted and the drive will not recognise it, then a Firmware update is required to update the software in the drive itself.

13. How do I fix or rewrite the Master Boot Record (MBR)?

Boot off the XP CD and run the Recovery Console (the console can be installed using WINNT32 /CMDCONS command from the XP CD), then type Fixmbr [device], where device is \Device\Harddisk0 or if omitted, the current dive.

14. How do I do Disk Management from the command line?

If you need to do disk management, such as from the Recovery Console, then use the DiskPart command and you can do things such as Rescan, Add, Delete partitions and so on.

15. How do I protect sensitive files and folders?

Windows XP Pro comes with the EFS (Encrypted File System) and you can encrypt files so that only you can read them with your Private Key. To do this, open the properties of the file or folder and select Advanced and tick the box for Encrypt contents to secure data.If you are using encryption a lot, then I suggest you backup your Private key via the Certificates administrative tool (or run certmgr.msc).
If you have XP Home, then you need a third party tool such as PGP Desktop or Folder Guard.

16. How do I defragment my Hard disk?

Load up Disk Management administrative tool and click on Storage and then Disk Defragmenter. Alternatively you can use the defrag.exe command line tool to defrag your hard disk and can be used to schedule defrags as well. Some files, such as pagefiles, cannot be deframented and you can use free utilities such as PageDefrag from SysInternals.

17. How do I create bootable CD or DVD disks?

Windows CD Recording software cannot create such disks, you will need a third party CD burning application such as Nero Burning Rom or Roxio Creative suite. This will allow you to read a floppy disk with the boot files on it and the CDROM drivers and allow you to boot CD or DVD disks. See instructions supplied with the application on how to do this.

18. How do I know how much total disk space and free space on my hard disk?

Double click on My Computer, right click a volume such as C: drive and select Properties. For the entire volume (or partition), look at the Capacity, for the amount of free space look at Free Space.

For the entire disk, rather than volumes, load Disk Management console (diskmgmt.msc) and look at Disk 0 (or other disks) and the value underneath for the capacity of the entire disk.

19. Can I install Windows XP on an External USB Hard drive?

You will need to create a modified Windows XP boot disk to enable USB disks as bootable drives. Not all PCs and USB Hard drives can support it, but if yours can, then there are some setup instructions on the TechSpot web site.