Windows 2000 Installation Hints and Tips

While preparing for Windows 2000 (Win2K), I researched installation issues and wasn’t surprised when my TechNet search for "installation" returned 119 matches, and my search for "upgrade" returned 133. Installation problems fall into several familiar categories: selecting the installation drive/partition and directory, upgrading vs. installing a fresh copy, identifying the location of distribution files, fixing NTFS issues, and overcoming various device problems. Here’s a sampling of the cone zones waiting for you during your Win2K installation or upgrade.

Network Adapter Card Detection
Microsoft Support Online article Q227428 reports that you can’t override Win2K automatic network adapter card detection during installation. If the installer selects the wrong card, you need to reboot, manually remove the incorrect adapter, and reinstall the correct one with the Control Panel’s Add/Remove Hardware applet. As a failsafe mechanism, you can always install the Microsoft Loopback Adapter to load the network components.

TCP/IP Clients are DHCP Clients by Default
When you select TCP/IP for your new Win2K system, the computer automatically configures as a DHCP client, and you can’t manually specify a static IP address. To specify you own IP address, you need to use the Control Panel's Make New Connection and Local Area Connection tools after the installation completes.

Win2K and NTFS
First, to avoid problems, install Win2K on an NTFS partition; if you install the OS on a FAT or FAT32 partition and later convert the partition to NTFS, the convert utility might not apply the default security settings correctly. Second, after you convert a drive to NTFS 5.0, you can’t revert to the Windows NT 4.0 version—you’ll need to reformat the drive. Service Pack 6 (SP6) for NT includes a version of NTFS that’s compatible with most of Win2K’s file system features.

Source Files
NT has been confused about the location of source files since the beginning of time, and Win2K is keeping the tradition alive. To minimize problems accessing installation files for a CD-ROM or a network drive, many of us copy the installation directories to a local hard disk and then perform the install. Unfortunately, when you install Win2K from a local hard disk, the OS automatically records the source media as the first available CD-ROM drive letter instead of the local hard disk. So, when you add a new component, Win2K assumes the source media is the CD-ROM, and you have to enter the correct path manually. To work around the problem, you can change the default source media location by editing the source path value entry in these three Registry keys:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT   CurrentVersion\Setup 
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WindowsNT   CurrentVersion
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT   CurrentVersion\Setup Installation Sources

Win2K will correctly record the source media in the Registry when you install from a network drive. However, as I noted above, if you have problems with your network adapter card, you might not be able to access a network drive after the install completes.

Installation Errors
In some cases, Win2K reports that it has detected software that’s not completely installed, and it aborts the installation procedure. Win2K generates this message if there’s any data associated in either of the Registry keys below. You can correct the problem by deleting any data in these keys. Then, when you restart the install, it should proceed normally.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT   CurrentVersion\RunOnceEx
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT   CurrentVersion\Runonce 

According to Microsoft Support Online article Q238860, Win2K’s serial port detector toggles the signal, and when you have a UPS connected to a serial port, the UPS interprets this toggle as a power failure. To avoid this problem, disconnect the UPS before you start your Win2K installation. I’ve experienced this problem many times in the past with a UPS and NT 4.0, which makes me think this problem is a holdover concern instead of a new one.

Other Installation Hints

  • If the Checkdisk utility (chkdsk.exe) needs to repair your disk during installation, you’ll get an error message that might make you think the installation failed: "Setup has determined that you attempted unsuccessfully to upgrade the Windows NT installation shown." However, after the Checkdisk utility completes the repair, it reboots your system, and the Win2K installation continues.
  • To avoid problems with print DLLs, upgrade your system to SP5 or later before you install Win2K.
  • If you follow the default installation procedure, all versions of Win2K install to a directory called Winnt (why not Win2K, I wonder?).
  • Microsoft recommends a minimum of 650MB of free space on the system disk and considers 2GB standard—is this a definition of the term "install bloat"?
  • The system disk drive letter is hard coded in the Registry, so you can’t change the drive designation after you get Win2K up and running.
Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.