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Last Updated December 10, 2003

Windows 2000 Installation FAQ

Although there are several Windows 2000 FAQ's on the web, we decided to put this one together as a way to "fill in the gaps" that we felt existed, based on the questions that we were receiving via e-mail. It is our hope to make this the most comprehensive FAQ on the Web, so if you have any additional questions that you feel should be part of this document please drop us a line at  


What are the hardware requirements for Windows 2000?

These are the minimum hardware requirements for Windows 2000. For acceptable performance, we recommend doubling processor, memory and disk space requirements.

Win2000 Version

CPU Memory Disk Space
Professional P133  64Mb 1 GB
Server P133  256Mb 1 GB
Adv Server P133  256Mb 1 GB
DataCenter To be announced To be announced To be announced

What is the Hardware Compatibility List
Windows 2000 is very particular about the hardware on which it runs, and will run just fine on most modern off the shelf computers and servers. However, the support for video cards, sound cards, printers, scanners, and other peripherals is not as comprehensive as it is for Windows 95/98/Me. To help you sort through this mess, Microsoft created a Hardware Compatibility List so you can check to see which hardware has been tested and certified by Microsoft with Windows 2000. If you don't find the hardware on the list, check with the vendor to see if they have released any patches or updates, or if they support their products on Windows 2000 but have not taken the time to submit their hardware and drivers to Microsoft. You can search for compatible hardware on Microsoft's Compatibility Database

How can I make sure my hardware and software will work with Windows 2000 before installing or upgrading?
The Windows 2000 installation CD includes a tool called the Readiness Analyzer, which analyzes your system and reports potentially incompatible hardware devices and software applications. The tool compares the devices and applications on your system against a list of known issues. Although this check also occurs during Windows 2000 Setup, you can run the tool before installing Windows 2000 by using the following command <CD drive>:\i386\winnt32 /checkupgradeonly. If you don't have a copy of the Windows 2000 installation, you can download the Readiness Analyzer here.

How much hard drive space should I allocate for Windows 2000?
Depending on the version of Windows 2000 you are installing (professional, server, advanced server, etc.,) you should expect a "fresh" installation to take up about 650-950Mb of hard drive space depending on how many options you have chosen, and what file system you are using. You will also need to leave room for your paging files, memory dumps, space for your registry to grow, service packs, anti-virus definitions, event logs, and enough free space to permit disk defragmentation. Generally a Windows 2000 Professional installation should allow at least 2-4 GB of space on the primary partition, and Windows 2000 Server should receive 4-8GB of space depending on the amount of physical memory and its role. (i.e. If it will function as a domain controller in a large environment.)

What is the difference between the System and Boot partitions?
In Microsoft parlance, the System partition refers to the disk volume containing hardware specific files needed to boot Windows NT/2000 (NTLDR, BOOT.INI, and so on). Ironically, the boot partition contains the Windows NT/2000 operating system files (usually \WINNT) and it support files (usually \WINNT\SYSTEM32). The boot partition can be (and often is) on the same partition as the system partition. This difference is only important if you install Windows 2000 to a partition other than the primary partition (.i.e to a drive letter other than C:\).

Should I choose FAT, FAT32, or NTFS as a file system?
For most Windows 2000 installations, Microsoft recommends that you format your partitions using NTFS on all drives over 1GB in size. If you are a home user and have no security requirements, or plan on dual booting your workstation between Windows 98 and Windows 2000, you may wish to use FAT32 instead of NTFS. NTFS is much more efficient than FAT32 on large volumes, provides file level security, encryption, compression, and support for RAID. Also keep in mind that you can convert a FAT32 partition to NTFS, but you cannot go back without reformatting your drive and losing your data. For more information, see our section on Windows 2000 File Systems

Should I upgrade my Windows 9x/NT installation, dual boot, or just start with a brand new installation?
If at all possible, you should always try to create a fresh installation of Windows 2000 on a clean partition, or a new hard drive. Although you can upgrade Windows 9x and Windows NT Workstation to Windows 2000 Professional, you'll have better results if you start fresh. Although most (94%) of the upgrades we've performed have gone smoothly, they required a bit of preplanning and we were already aware of the more common Windows 2000 installation bugs as well as Windows 9x and Windows NT upgrade issues. If you are a Windows 98 user and gaming is important to you, you may wish to setup your computer to dual boot. For corporate users, the issue becomes more complex and is beyond the scope of this FAQ.

How do I create a set of boot disks?
In order to create a set of Windows 2000 Boot disks, you'll need to run the Makeboot.exe utility from the Bootdisk folder on the Windows 2000 installation CD. Just insert the CD into the drive of a Windows 9x or Windows NT machine and Start>Run>drive:\bootdisk\makeboot a:  You'll need 4 formatted floppy disks.

How do I install the Recovery Console?
The recovery console is a system recovery utility designed to give you limited access to your disk volumes in the event your computer won't boot to the graphical interface. You can access this console by booting from the setup floppy disks (or the Windows 2000 CD) and at the "Welcome to Setup" screen press F10, or press R to Repair, and then C to start the Recovery Console. A simpler way is to install the Recovery Console before you need it by by using Winnt32.exe with the "/cmdcons" switch. (This requires approximately 7MB of disk space on your system partition to hold the cmdcons directory and files.)

Can I run Windows 2000 on my Laptop?
Windows 2000 is an ideal operating system for laptops, provided your laptop can support it. Since laptops often feature proprietary hardware in the motherboard, display, network cards, video cards, integrated modems, and sound cards, not all laptops can run Windows 2000. If you're vendor supports Windows 2000 on your model, or if you're buying a new laptop that comes preloaded with Windows 2000, you'll like the stability and security that this OS brings. Windows NT just didn't support advanced power management, USB, or native file encryption, and Windows 95/98 doesn't have any security. Windows 2000 brings you the best of both worlds. I travel with an IBM ThinkPad i1400 that has a 650Mhz Pentium II processor and 128Mb of RAM and Windows 2000 performs flawlessly on the road.

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