How can I retrieve folders from my old Windows 98 SE computer?

ronglan January 8, 2011
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How can I retrieve folders from my old computer? I was using Windows 98 SE and I would like to find out how to get folders from my system.

  1. Anonymous
    January 10, 2011 at 8:38 am


    Windows 98 and ME CDs
    These Windows versions keep some important data inside your soon-to-be-erased Windows folder, so you need to copy several of its subfolders to another location. Right-click My Computer and select Explore. Double-click the C: drive icon (in Me, you may then have to click View the entire contents of this drive). Right-click in the right pane and select New, Folder. Name the new folder oldstuff.

    Go to the Windows folder (you might have to click View the entire contents of this folder), hold down Ctrl, and select the following subfolders: All Users, Application Data, Desktop, Favorites, Local Settings, Profiles, SendTo, and Start Menu. If you don't see them all, select View, Folder Options (Tools, Folder Options in Me), click the View tab, select Show all files, and click OK. (If you still don't see them all, don't worry about it.) Press Ctrl and drag the folders to C:oldstuff (see FIGURE 1).

    Restart Windows with a start-up disk in your floppy drive. (To make a start-up floppy, insert a disk, select Start, Settings, Control Panel, double-click Add/Remove Programs, click Startup Disk, Create Disk, and follow the prompts.) At the Startup Menu, select Start computer with CD-ROM support. While the drivers load, insert your Windows CD-ROM.

    Unless you're doing a repair reinstall, type the command c:windowscommanddeltree /y c:windows and press Enter. Deleting your old files could take time, but the /y switch suppresses confirmation prompts, so take a break.

    When you're back at the A: prompt, type x:setup, where x is your CD drive letter (it's likely one letter past what it usually is in Windows, so if it's D: in Windows, it's probably E: here). Press Enter and follow the prompts.

    Once you're back in Windows, reinstall your graphics card driver. If you have Windows set up for more than one user, you'll also have to re-create each account. Select Start, Settings, Control Panel, Users to do so. It's important that the user names match those in the old installation. If you're not sure, open Windows Explorer and navigate to C:oldstuffprofiles. There you'll find a folder for each registered user name (see FIGURE 2). Don't worry about passwords. Log off and log back on as each user. When you're done, log off and back on one more time, but instead of choosing a user name and a password, press Esc to enter Windows without being a specific user.

    Select Start, Programs, MS-DOS Prompt (in Windows 98) or Start, Programs, Accessories, MS-DOS Prompt (in Windows Me). Type xcopy c:oldstuff*.* c:windows /s /h /r /c and press Enter (if you want to know what the xcopy switches do, enter the command xcopy /?). When xcopy asks if it should overwrite a file, press a for All.

    When xcopy is through, reboot and log on (as a particular user, if necessary). Open My Documents to make sure all your personal files are where they belong, including your Internet Explorer favorites and your custom Start menu shortcuts.

  2. Oron Joffe
    January 9, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    Tina covered the options pretty thoroughly. I'd like to recommend a variant of the third option, namely, using an IDE to USB adaptor. This is basically just the electronic part of the case she mentions, and can be bought very cheaply on eBay (I've seen them selling for less than 5 pounds without a power supply, and about twice that with it). Just open the old computer, plug the adapter into the HD and the USB end of the adapter into the new PC, and off you go!

  3. Tina
    January 9, 2011 at 12:12 am


    what happened to that old computer? Does it still boot?

    If it boots, you can hook up an external hard drive or, depending on the amount of files you want to backup, a flash drive and copy the files manually. I'm sure there is also backup software available for Windows 98 that you can use.

    If the computer no longer boots, you can take the hard drive and attach it to another computer to get the files off it. I suppose this is an IDE hard drive. Do you have an IDE connection in your new computer?

    First, however, make sure that it is jumpered to slave or automatic selection because right now it is certainly jumpered to master, i.e. identified as the boot drive. The jumper settings are typically printed on top of the case of the hard drive. The jumper is a small plastic ring that you stick onto two metal needles in one out of four positions at the back of the drive between IDE and power connection. The position determines its identity. Search Google for your hard drive model and 'jumper IDE drive' (assuming it is an IDE drive) for more instructions.

    You could also put it into an IDE to USB case for 3.5" drives, which would turn your old Windows 98 hard drive into an external USB drive. Again, hooking that up to another computer would let you copy your old files.

    Let us know what the situation with this computer is and we will try to give you the best solution.