Basics and Installation for MS Windows NT Workstation 4.0

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Chapter 5 - Beginning Installation

This section describes Windows NT Setup, the program used to install Windows NT on your computer. Installing a new operating system can involve many choices, and Setup is designed to guide you through these choices as smoothly as possible.

Installing Windows NT consists of three main steps:


What You Should Know Before Running Setup


Have you read the Windows NT Workstation readme files?
If possible, read the file Setup.txt on your compact disc for late-breaking information pertaining to hardware and configuration. After you finish installing, read the file Readme.doc for any new information not included in this book.


If possible, have you backed up all of the files currently on your computer to either a network share or a tape storage device?


Have you checked all of your hardware (network adapter cards, video drivers, sound cards, CD-ROM drives, etc.) against the Windows NT Hardware Compatibility List? A copy of this list is included in your package.
Up-to-date versions are available on:
• the World Wide Web at
• Microsoft's FTP server at
Important Microsoft only supports hardware that appears on the Windows NT Hardware Compatibility List for use with Windows NT. If any piece of your hardware does not appear on this list, your installation might not be successful.


Do you have all the device driver disks and configuration settings for your third-party hardware?


Do you have ready a formatted disk for the Emergency Repair Disk (ERD)?
Make sure to use a 3.5-inch 1.44 megabyte (MB) disk for the ERD. Label it "Emergency Repair Disk" and set it aside until Setup asks you to insert it.
Note Although the ERD is optional for running Windows NT, Microsoft strongly recommends that you create one during installation and update it every time you make changes to your configuration, such as restructuring partitions, adding new disk controllers and other software, or installing new applications.


Do you have your Windows NT Workstation compact disc?
– or –


Do you have network access to the Windows NT Workstation files?

Please record the following information here:

Product ID:

(20 digit number that appears on the inside back cover of this book)

(10 digit number that appears on the CD case)

Windows 95 cannot be upgraded to Windows NT 4.0. If your computer is running Windows 95, you must install Windows NT 4.0 in a separate directory, and your computer will dual-boot. For more information, see "Choosing a Directory for the Windows NT Workstation Files" later in this chapter.

If you will be using this computer on a network:

Computer name:


Workgroup/domain name:


(if your network does not have a DHCP server)

System Requirements

The following table describes the system requirements for Windows NT Workstation.




32-bit x86-based microprocessor (such as Intel 80486/25 or higher), Intel Pentium, or supported RISC-based microprocessor such as the MIPS R4x00™, Digital Alpha Systems, or PowerPC™.


VGA, or higher resolution, monitor


One or more hard disks, with 117 MB minimum free disk space on the partition that will contain the Windows NT Workstation system files (148 MB minimum for RISC-based computers)


For x86-based computers, a high density 3.5-inch disk drive plus a CD-ROM drive (for computers with only a 5.25-inch drive, you can only install Windows NT Workstation over the network)


For any computer not installing over a network, a CD-ROM drive


12-MB RAM minimum for x86-based systems; 16 MB recommended


16-MB RAM minimum for RISC-based systems

Optional components

Mouse or other pointing device


One or more network adapter cards, if you want to use Windows NT Workstation with a network

Windows NT Workstation supports computers with up to two microprocessors. Support for additional microprocessors is available from your computer manufacturer.

Starting Setup

The procedure for starting Setup varies slightly according to:

  • your computer platform (Intel x86-based or RISC-based) 

  • how you gain access to the Setup files (from the boot media or over a network) 

The procedures described here pertain to both Intel x86-based and RISC-based computers. If your computer is RISC-based, notice the special instructions in some of the steps.

Note If you are installing Windows NT on a portable computer with a Personal Computer Memory Card International Association (PCMCIA) port and you want Setup to configure a device connected to that port, you must insert the device and start or restart your computer before running Setup. Make sure that any device you use is approved on the Windows NT Hardware Compatibility List. For ways of finding this list, see "What You Should Know Before Running Setup" earlier in this chapter.

The Setup disks included with your package (labeled "Setup Boot Disk," "Setup Disk 2," and "Setup Disk 3") are required if you are installing Windows NT for the first time on an Intel x86-based computer. If you are installing over a network and do not have your package at hand, the Setup disks are created during Setup when you use the winnt or winnt32 command. Also, the Setup disks let you start Windows NT at a later time when it might not be able to start on its own due to a system error. You can use the Setup disks together with the Emergency Repair Disk, as described in Help, to recover your system when it is unable to start.

If your computer's BIOS supports the El Torito Bootable CD-ROM (no-emulation mode) format, you can skip over using the Setup disks during a new installation of Windows NT 4.0 and start Setup directly from the Windows NT Workstation compact disc.

If you are installing on a RISC-based computer, this is the appropriate method for starting Setup as well. Check the documentation for your computer to learn whether this option is available to you.

To install Windows NT Workstation on your computer using the Setup disks and/or the Windows NT Workstation compact disc
  1. With your computer turned off, insert the disk labeled "Windows NT Setup Boot Disk" into drive A of your computer. 

    Or, if your computer's BIOS supports the El Torito Bootable CD-ROM (no-emulation mode) format, insert the Windows NT Workstation 4.0 compact disc with your computer turned off.

  2. Turn on your computer. 

    If you are installing on an Intel x86-based computer, Setup will start automatically. 

    If you are installing on a RISC-based computer, follow these additional steps: 

  3. At the ARC screen, choose Run A Program from the menu. 

  4. At the prompt, type cd:\system\setupldr and press ENTER, where system is the directory name matching your system type: MIPS, PPC (for PowerPC computers), or ALPHA. 

    For some RISC-based computers, you might need to supply a full device name instead of typing cd:. See your computer documentation for more information. 

Once Setup is started, follow the instructions on the screen. Refer to the appropriate sections in this book when you need assistance.

To install Windows NT Workstation 4.0 using a network connection to the Setup files on a remote server
  1. Using your existing operating system or a MS-DOS disk, establish your connection to the share containing the Setup files. 

  2. If your computer is currently running a previous version of Windows NT, type winnt32 at the command prompt. For all other installations, type winnt

Setup begins with a brief welcoming screen asking you the process by which you want to proceed with installation. If you are installing Windows NT Workstation 4.0 on your machine for the first time, press ENTER to begin the Setup process.

On this and the other opening Setup screens, Help is available by pressing F1. These Help screens contain useful background information and suggestions to follow while running Setup.

If you are continuing an earlier failed attempt to install Windows NT, certain repair options are available by pressing R. For guidance in using these screens, refer to the available Help by pressing F1.

You can cancel Setup entirely at any point on these screens by pressing F3.

Configuring a Mass Storage Device

Next, Setup scans your computer to detect the mass storage devices, such as CD-ROM drives and SCSI adapters. Hard disks are not included in this scan.

Note Setup automatically detects all integrated device electronics (IDE) and enhanced small device interface (ESDI) drives. These drives are not displayed on this screen.


Setup lists all the mass storage devices it finds. You can accept this list, or you can choose to add to it if you have a disk with device drivers from the manufacturer of your device. You can also wait and install additional mass storage devices after Setup is complete.

If any of your mass storage devices were not detected, press s to install them at this time.

Tip To install additional mass storage devices after Setup is complete, click the Start button, point to Settings, and then click Control Panel. Double-click the SCSI Adapters icon. For information, see Help.

Verifying Your Hardware

Next, Setup displays the list of hardware and software components it finds on your computer.


Use the up Arrow and down arrow keys to move to a setting on the list that needs to be changed. Then, press ENTER to see alternatives for that item.

Configuring the Disk Partitions

Disk space on your hard drive(s) is divided into usable areas called partitions. Before it can install Windows NT, Setup must know the appropriate disk partition for installing the system files.


A disk partition can be any size from 1 MB to the entire hard disk. But the partition where you store Windows NT files must be on a permanent hard disk and must have enough unused disk space to hold all the files. Refer to the section "System Requirements" earlier in this chapter to double-check that your computer has adequate disk space for installing the Windows NT files.

The system partition is the partition that has the hardware-specific files needed to load Windows NT. On an x86-based computer, Windows NT looks for certain files in the root directory of drive C (Disk 0) when you start your computer. This partition must be formatted with either the NT File System (NTFS) or the File Allocation (FAT) file system in order for Windows NT to start. It must be formatted with the FAT file system if you want to run both Windows NT and MS-DOS or if you are dual-booting with Windows 95. For more information, see the next section, "Choosing a File System for the Windows NT Partition."

Tip A RISC-based computer can have several system partitions that are configurable by the manufacturer's configuration program, and each system partition must be formatted for the FAT file system. If you want to use NTFS, you need to create at least one FAT system partition of at least 2 MB plus a second partition large enough to contain all the files you want to protect with NTFS. For information about setting up more than one system partition on a RISC-based computer, see your hardware documentation.

If you are installing Windows NT on a mirrored partition, you must disable mirroring before running Setup and then reestablish mirroring after installation is complete.

Caution If your hard disk contains stripe sets, volume sets, or mirrors, these elements appear on the Setup screen as "Windows NT Fault Tolerance." Be careful not to delete any of these elements. Also, do not delete partitions that contain data you want to keep.

Use the following guidelines when making decisions about your hard disk partitions.

If you will use only the Windows NT Workstation operating system:

  • On a new x86-based computer, make a single partition and format it with NTFS, as described in the following section, "Choosing a File System for the Windows NT Partition."

  • On an existing system containing files you want to keep, maintain all existing partitions. You can install the Windows NT Workstation files on any partition with sufficient free space: 117 MB for x86-based machines, or 148 MB for RISC-based computers. 

If you plan to use another operating system, such as MS-DOS or Windows 95, in addition to Windows NT:

  • To run both MS-DOS and Windows NT on the same computer, you must first install MS-DOS. Installing it later might overwrite the boot sector on the hard disk, making it impossible to start Windows NT without using the Emergency Repair Disk. 

  • Make sure the system partition (for example, drive C) is formatted as FAT. For example, if you already have MS-DOS installed and want to keep it, preserve the system partition and keep the file system as FAT, as described in the following section, "Choosing a File System for the Windows NT Partition." You can install the Windows NT files on any uncompressed partition with sufficient free space, as listed in the section "System Requirements" earlier in this chapter.

    Important You cannot install Windows NT on a compressed drive created with any utility other than NTFS compression.

  • To use NTFS and have access to another operating system, you must have at least two disk partitions. Format drive C with a file system that Windows NT and your other operating system can use, such as FAT. Format the other partition for NTFS. You can place the Windows NT files on any uncompressed (or NTFS-compressed) partition with sufficient free space. 

If you are installing Windows NT on a computer currently configured to start either OS/2 or MS-DOS using the boot command, Windows NT Setup sets up your system so that you can run Windows NT or whichever of the two operating systems (MS-DOS or OS/2) you last started before running Windows NT Setup.

If you have OS/2 Boot Manager installed on your computer and want to continue to use it after Windows NT Workstation installation is complete, you need to re-enable it. After Setup is complete, click the Start button and point to Programs and then Administrative Tools. Click Disk Administrator. Select the OS/2 Boot Manager partition, and then select Mark Active from the Partition menu.

Choosing a File System for the Windows NT Partition

Once you have selected a partition for installing Windows NT, you must instruct Setup which file system, NTFS or FAT, to use with the partition. Make sure you know all the considerations when choosing one file system over another.


Use the following information when choosing to format or convert the partition where the Windows NT files will be installed:

  • For an unformatted partition, you can choose to format it with either the NTFS or FAT file system. Choose the FAT option if you want to access files on that partition when running Windows NT, MS-DOS, Windows 95, or OS/2 on this computer. Choose the NTFS option if you want to take advantage of the features in NTFS. 

  • For an existing partition, the default option keeps the current file system intact, preserving all existing files on that partition. 

You might choose to convert an existing partition to NTFS so as to make use of Windows NT security. This option preserves existing files, but only Windows NT has access to files on that partition.

Or, you might instead choose to reformat an existing partition to either the NTFS or FAT file system, which erases all existing files on that partition. If you choose to reformat the partition as NTFS, only Windows NT will have access to files created on that partition.

Note After running Setup, you can convert file systems from FAT to NTFS. If you want to convert an NTFS partition to FAT, you must first back up all the files, reformat the partition (which erases all files), and then restore the files from the backup version. You must also back up data before repartitioning a hard disk. For more information on this process, see the Microsoft Windows NT Workstation Resource Kit Version 4.0.

The following table summarizes the main criteria for choosing a file system for a Windows NT partition.


NTFS Considerations

FAT Considerations


Supports complete Windows NT security, so you can specify who is allowed various kinds of access to a file or directory.

Files are not protected by the security features of Windows NT.

Activity log

Keeps a log of activities to restore the disk in the event of power failure or other problems.

FAT file systems do not keep a log.

File sizes

Maximum file size is 4 GB to 64 GB, depending on the size of your clusters.

Maximum file size is 4 GB.

File compression

Supports flexible per-file compression.

File compression is not supported.

Operating system compatibility

Recognized only by Windows NT. When the computer is running another operating system (such as MS-DOS or OS/2), that operating system cannot access files on an NTFS partition on the same computer.

Allows access to files when your computer is running another operating system, such as MS-DOS or OS/2.

MS-DOS data sharing

Cannot share data with MS-DOS on the same partition.

Enables you to share data with MS-DOS on the same partition.

Choosing a Directory for the Windows NT Workstation Files

After Setup accepts your partition and file system choices, it displays the name of the directory where it will install the Windows NT files. You can accept the directory that Setup suggests or type the name of the directory you prefer. For most installations, the proposed directory is appropriate.


Setup displays a special screen if it detects one or more of the following operating systems on your computer:

  • Windows NT (versions 3.1, 3.5, or 3.51) 

  • Windows 95 

  • Windows 3.x 

In such a case, your decision to install in the directory Setup has chosen or to specify a new directory should be based on the following considerations:

  • Do you want Setup to migrate the registry settings from your existing operating system? 

  • Do you want the ability to choose among your operating systems every time you start your computer?

Note If your computer is running Windows 95, it is not possible to install the Windows NT 4.0 files in the same directory. You must specify a new directory. Your Windows 95 settings will not be migrated, and you will need to reinstall your applications under Windows NT.

Use the following chart to decide which directory option is best for your installation.

Previous Operating System and Installation Directory

Migrates settings?

Supports multiple-boot?

Windows NT
Same directory
New directory



Windows 95
Same directory
New directory



Windows 3. x
Same directory
New directory