I have an old, old system that I need to do a hard drive clean sweep with; however, I need to keep the operating system intact (windows 98) or else I won't be able to run it. It has all of about 3 GB in the hard drive. Is there a way to wipe the drive clean without losing the operating system. This is an old Aspire Acer 6100. (ancient system) I have almost no backup software so if I get into a jam thats it. It'll be difficult to get out of. Can you help me?
Baffled in Byron Center, MI
Let's have Paul take the first look at this one, since I've lost more data than Rosemary Woods.
I've been in that position - where you just don't want to touch the thing because it might collapse but you know you have to. So don't even think about touching that disk until you have a tested, working, backup - even if that means putting a second disk in the machine or backing up to a friend's laptop.
Backup's first, recovery testing second, futzing third.
Excellent points. Once we're crystal clear on the need for backup, how can you get one that fits your budget?
Personally I use a program called PC Relocator from Eisenworld whenever I get a new PC. It costs about $50. It moves everything and anything, including the operating system. If you have another place to put this stuff (like a friend's laptop) it's an easy solution.
But you say you don't have another computer to move your old OS to?
Yes, you do. It's called GMail. Copy your operating to your new GMail account as an attachment, along with anything else you need to keep.
You can also get shrink-wrap copies of Windows 98 at eBay so if you want to just wipe your drive and start over that is an option.
If you're really hard up I have a copy of Windows 1.0 from 1986, hand-signed (in the manual) by Bill Gates himself. But it's on floppies. I think they're 5.25 inch floppies.
The point is computing has changed in 20 years, and it continues to change rapidly. Three gigabytes isn't a lot of storage these days. There are many places you can find it. So long as the hard drive's problem doesn't prevent you from moving things off it, you should be OK.
Just remember Paul's rule. Backup, then recovery testing, and futzing last.