Windows 2000 Uninstall Guide
How to uninstall/remove Windows 2000

Version 1.1

Last Update: Januar 10th, 2000
Copyright (C) 1999, 2000 Andrej Budja, MCSE+I, MVP
You can find new versions of this guide at www.budja.com/w2k/uninstall_w2k.html

IMPORTANT!!

I shall not be responsible for any damage or lost files that have may occur after following these instructions. You use the procedures at you own risk!

Removing Windows 2000 from your hard drive depends on where you initially installed Windows 2000 and other operating systems. This is a quick guide trough all possible situations. If you have any questions or you found any mistakes you can reach me at uninstall_w2k@budja.com. Feel free to contribute…

But be aware. I receive a lot of e-mails every day, so I might not be able to answer them immediately. If you need you answer really fast, you should post the questions in Microsoft Windows 2000 newsgroups on msnews.microsoft.com news server.

This guide is still in development, so you are welcome to send you comments, corrections, tips… anything you like.

This guide has two parts. One part is for users that just want to remove Windows 2000 as quick as possible without any deeper knowledge of Windows 2000 files and booting. These users can just follow the procedures listed in the Part I. But a lot of users will also want to know why not just how! These users will find everything they need in Part II.

CONTENTS

Part I
Section A - Dual booting Windows 2000 and Windows 95/98
Section B - Dual booting Windows 2000 and Windows NT
Section C - Windows 2000 as the only operating system on the computer

Part II
Introduction
NT Boot Loader
Boot Files
Removing files or deleting/formatting partitions?


PART I

Part I of this guide includes all step-by step procedures to remove Windows 2000 from your hard drive. It has three sections. Section A is for dual booting Windows 2000 with Windows 95/98 and Section B is for dual booting Windows 2000 with Windows NT! Be careful not to choose the wrong one!!! Section C describes how to remove Windows 2000 if this is the only operating system installed.

Section A - Dual booting Windows 2000 and Windows 95/98

Windows 2000 on the same partition as Windows 95/98
1. Boot to Windows 95/98 [with win9x boot disk]
2. Type sys c: in MS-DOS prompt
3. remove boot.ini, bootsect.dos, ntldr, ntdetect.com and ntbootdd.sys (if exists) from c:\
4. delete pagefile.sys (usually on c:)
5. delete hiberfil.sys (if exists)
6. Delete winnt directory (the directory you installed Windows 2000)
7. Delete Documents and Settings directory

[A] Windows 2000 on the different FAT or FAT32 partition as Windows 95/98
1. Boot to Windows 95/98 [with win9x boot disk]
2. Type sys c: in MS-DOS prompt
3. remove boot.ini, bootsect.dos, ntldr, ntdetect.com and ntbootdd.sys (if exists) from c:\
4. delete pagefile.sys (usually on c:)
5. delete hiberfil.sys (if exists)
6. Delete winnt directory (the directory you installed Windows 2000)
7. Delete Documents and Settings directory
8. delete Program Files directory
9. delete temp directory

[B] Windows 2000 on the different FAT or FAT32 partition as Windows 95/98
1. Boot to Windows 95/98 [with win9x boot disk]
2. Type sys c: in MS-DOS prompt
3. remove boot.ini, bootsect.dos, ntldr, ntdetect.com and ntbootdd.sys (if exists) from c:\
4. delete pagefile.sys (usually on c:)
5. format Windows 2000 partition
* Make sure you copy all data files you need to different partition!!!

Windows 2000 on the different NTFS partition as Windows 95/98
1. Boot with Windows 2000 CD or Windows 2000 boot disks
2. 'If setup program asks you if you want to repair existing Windows 2000 installarion of fresh install new Windows 2000 select fresh install
3. When setup asks you to select partition, remove the Windows 2000 partition
4. create new FAT partition(s) instead
5. Exit setup program (F3) without installing
6. Boot to win 95/98 [with win9x boot disk]
7. Type sys c:
8. delete boot.ini, bootsect.dos, ntldr, ntdetect.com and ntbootdd.sys (if exists) from c:\
9. delete pagefile.sys (usually on c:)
10. delete hiberfil.sys (if exists)

Section B - Dual booting Windows 2000 and Windows NT

1. Boot to Windows NT
2. Format the Windows 2000 partition (before that copy all important files to other partition)
3. Remove read-only attribute from boot.ini file
4. Open boot.ini
5. Remove one line that references Windows 2000
6. Save and close boot.ini

Sample BOOT.INI before:
[boot loader]
timeout=5
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(1)partition(1)\W2K_PRO

[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(1)partition(1)\W2K_PRO="Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional" /fastdetect
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINNT="Windows NT Workstation Version 4.00"
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINNT="Windows NT Workstation Version 4.00 [VGA mode]" /basevideo

Sample BOOT.INI after editing:
[boot loader]
timeout=5
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINNT

[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINNT="Windows NT Workstation Version 4.00"
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINNT="Windows NT Workstation Version 4.00 [VGA mode]" /basevideo

Modifications:
First notice that the first line under [operating systems] is missing. This line was the reference to Windows 2000. Be careful. First line is not always the right line. To make sure you don’t delete the wrong one (if you do, you will not be able to boot to Windows NT), delete the line that has “Microsoft Windows 2000” words. Remember also /fastdetect swhich. Windows NT 4.0 doesn’t recognize this switch, so it must be Windows 2000!
The second modification you need to make is to change default = XX line. If you look at the sample BOOT.INI before modification you will see that is referenced Windows 2000. So, after 5 seconds (because timeout = 5) the system would boot Windows 2000 (because default = ). Because you don’t have Windows 2000 on your system anymore, you have to make Windows NT 4.0 default selection. To do this you have to edit BOOT.INI file.
But there is also the easier way. In Windows NT 4.0 right click on My Computer, go to Advanced tab and select Startup and Recovery. Under System startup select Windows NT 4.0 in the drop down box.

Section C - Windows 2000 as the only operating system on the computer

Windows 2000 on NTFS, FAT32 or FAT partition
1. Boot with Windows 2000 CD or Windows 2000 boot disks
2. If setup program asks you if you want to repair existing Windows 2000 installarion of fresh install new Windows 2000 select fresh install
3. When setup asks you to select partition, remove the Windows 2000 partition or any other partitions you like
4. Exit setup program (F3) without installing
5. If you had Windows 2000 installed od some other partition than c:, then delete boot.ini, bootsect.dos, ntldr, ntdetect.com and ntbootdd.sys (if exists) from c:\

[A] Windows 2000 on FAT partition
1. Boot to Windows 95/98 [with win9x boot disk]
2. Type sys c: in MS-DOS prompt
3. remove boot.ini, bootsect.dos, ntldr, ntdetect.com and ntbootdd.sys (if exists) from c:\
4. delete pagefile.sys (usually on c:)
5. delete hiberfil.sys (if exists)
6. Delete winnt directory (the directory you installed Windows 2000)
7. Delete Documents and Settings directory
8. delete Program Files directory
9. delete temp directory

[B] Windows 2000 on FAT
1. Boot to Windows 95/98 [with win9x boot disk]
2. Type sys c: in MS-DOS prompt
3. remove boot.ini, bootsect.dos, ntldr, ntdetect.com and ntbootdd.sys (if exists) from c:\
4. delete pagefile.sys (usually on c:)
5. format Windows 2000 partition
* Make sure you copy all data files you need to different partition!!!

PART II

Introduction

When we think about removing Windows 2000 from our hard drive we have in mind removing all Windows 2000 files. Because Windows 2000 is a huge operating system, not all files are located on the same place.
The most important files to boot Windows 2000 are located on the first active partition (usually c:). These file are boot.ini, bootsect.dos (if dual booting), ntldr, ntdetect.com and ntbootdd.sys (if exists). No matter where user has installed Windows 2000, these files are always located on the first active partition – Windows 2000 calls this partition system partition.
The second group of files and directories is installed on the boot partition (Windows 2000 term). The majority of files are located on the systemroot directory – winnt – on the partition you specified during installation. On the same partition are also located Documents and Settings and Program Files directories. Not to forget on pagefile.sys and hiberfil.sys.
But removing these two groups of files will not completely remove Windows 2000. Important part of Windows 2000 is also NT boot loader. This is special program that that lets you choose to boot to other operating systems. Every time you start your computer NT boot loader start and shows you that special menu. This program is actually located in ntldr, but by deleting this file, you won’t accomplish whole job. You also have to overwrite the boot sector that loads this program.
So, you can see that removing Windows 2000 is quite a job.

NT Boot Loader

When removing Windows 2000 from a dual boot system with Windows 95/98, one of the most important steps is removing NT Boot Loader.
NT Boot Loader is special program that allow you to boot to multiple operating systems. Microsoft included it in Windows NT to allow users to dual boot Windows NT with DOS, Windows 95/98 and OS/2. Even if not supported, it also works with Linux. So when you start your computer NT Boot Loader displays you all available operating systems and lets you choose one. Now, let see how this works.
When you start your computer it goes trough POST (Power On Self Test). Then the BIOS read the first sector on you primary master hard drive. This sector is called MBR (Master Boot Record) and contains four tables that describe up to four primary partitions. When BIOS transfers the control to MBR, it first scans all tables to find active partition. Operating systems can start only form active partition and only one partition can be flagged as active at one time. When MBR finds active partition it transfers control to its first sector called Partition Boot Sector.
The boot sector of Windows 2000 contains small portion of code that understands the partitions file system. This is not the whole driver for file system, but just small code that understands the structure of underlying file system and that can read NTLDR file.
Boot sector then calls NTLDR. NTLDR then switches the system to Protected Mode and enables Paging. Now, NTLDR reads BOOT.INI file and display NT loader menu, from where user can select the operating system to boot. If user selects to boot to Windows 95/98, NTLDR opens bootsect.dos, which contain previous boot sector that runs Windows 95/98.
When removing Windows 2000 and it’s NT boot loader we have to replace Windows 2000 boot sector with Windows 95/98 boot sector. To do this, users have to use sys (sys c:) command from Windows 95/98. This will overwrite Windows 2000 boot sector, and will make the system to boot directly to Windows 95/98.

Boot Files

Windows 2000 places some important files on its system partition. This partition is active partition from where operating system is being loaded. As you have read before, Windows 2000 needs two files to run the system – NTLDR, BOOT.INI and bootsect.dos. Apart from these files, another two files are located on the system partition. These files are ntdetect.com and sometimes ntbootdd.sys. Ntdetect.com collect system information during the boot, and ntbootdd.sys contains SCSI driver. If you want to completely remove Windows 2000 you have to remove all these files.

Removing files or deleting/formatting partitions?

After replacing boot sector the system boots to Windows 95/98, but Windows 2000 files still occupy hundreds of MB on our hard drive. When removing these files and directories we have to possibilities - to just delete the files, or delete/reformat the whole partition. Every solution has its shortcomings.
When just deleting files, users can selectively delete files. This option is welcome when we have a lot of user data on the partition (bad thing) and want to remove only Windows 2000 directories. Windows 2000 uses a lot of directories. Apart from default installation directory (usually winnt) there might be a lot of different directories, depending on the Windows 2000 version – Professional or Server. One of the most known directories is Program Files directory that contain various applications that users installed. New to Windows 2000 is Documents and Settings directory that contains user files and profiles. Windows 2000 also creates temp directory for temporary files.
On the NTFS volumes Windows 2000 also creates two super-hidden directories – RECYCLER and System Volume Information. RECYCLER is well known directory that contains deleted files.
You see, why would be easier to reformat the whole partition. The only drawback is to make sure you copy important files you need to other partition. When deleting files make sure you find and delete pagefile.sys, because it can be quite large…. If you have enabled hibernation also delete hiberfil.sys


Copyright (C) 1999, 2000 Andrej Budja, MCSE+I, MVP
http://www.budja.com

YOU MAY FREELY DISTRIBUTE THIS GUIDE AS A WHOLE, AS LONG AS YOU DON’T CHARGE FOR IT AND YOU GIVE THE CREDITS TO THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR – ANDREJ BUDJA.

THE WINDOWS 2000 UNINSTALL GUIDE IS PROVIDED "AS-IS" FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. I CANNOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR PROBLEMS RESULTING FROM USE OF THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS GUIDE.