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The DOS Zone - FAQs


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How do you make a boot disk?


Please view my Notices page before viewing this area, it is not complete!
This is work in progress.


Firstly, if you aren't interested in learning how to make a boot disk and just need one then your best bet is to download one. Good boot disks are available from the following locations:
Boot Disk Project

If you really want to make your own then there are several ways you can go about it. You'll obviously need a disk, preferably in good working order. Then you just transfer the system files, using one of the methods described below, followed by any other external commands you like then finish by creating/editing config.sys and autoexec.bat.

The first step is to transfer the system files, this can be done in a number of ways, I have detailed the main ones here so you can chose.

Method 1: Using SYS
This is probably the best way to go about it. It doesn't matter if your disk has files on it that you want providing you have enough free space for the system files, the amount of space required varies. All you have to do is type "sys a:" and hit enter, providing that your disk is in drive A. You obviously don't include the quotation marks. If sys returns an error message then referring to the Error Messages section of this FAQ may explain it.

Method 2: Using format
Using this method you will lose all the files currently on the disk (if there are any). This method has the advantage that it will always write a boot sector to the disk as well as the system files. Most versions of sys do this as well but early ones don't. Simply type "format a: /s" and hit enter, again assuming that your disk is in drive A. As before you should omit the quotation marks. Just follow the onscreen instructions, when it asks you for a label hit enter and press "n" when asked if you want to format another disk.

Method 3: Just copying the files.
I'm not quite sure why people would use this method generally, there are times when it's necessary but these are the exception. I recommend you use one of the above procedures instead but for the record here's how to copy the files across (just type the following):

format a: /q
attrib io.sys -s -h -r
attrib msdos.sys -s -h -r
copy io.sys a:
copy msdos.sys a:
copy a:
attrib io.sys +s +h +r
attrib msdos.sys +s +h +r
attrib io.sys +s +h +r
attrib msdos.sys +s +h +r

For DOS versions other than MS-DOS, you will have to change io.sys and msdos.sys to something else (to be honest I've only ever verified that the above works with MS-DOS). Try using instead of io.sys and instead of msdos.sys since these are the most commonly used.

Chances are that if you are using this method then you are trying to restore a boot disk from a zipped copy. Usually this won't work because the boot sector on the disk you are transferring to is not correct. If you have the technical knowledge to write a boot sector to disk then a copy can be obtained from or format.exe (from the correct version).

Transferring some external commands
So far you have all the system files on your boot disk so it will work as such now. However you will find that it has limited functionality, you won't be able to use format for example. To rectify this situation you need to transfer some more files. I'd recommend at least the following:
Plus these if you want extended and expanded memory to be available:
If you have room left over include these:
These files should all be in the DOS directory but please note that depending on which DOS you are using some of the above files may not be present or use different names.

Well that's pretty much it, all that's left to do is create the config.sys and autoexec.bat files. To do this just start edit, open a new file then save it as config.sys once that has been done save it again as autoexec.bat. The other areas of this FAQ detail some of the things which should be added to these files.


Trawled this site and still can't find the solution to your problem?
If so I highly recommend The DOS Board.
It has several good techies waiting to answer your questions and I hang around there a lot too.

Copyright © Jonathan Fox 2000-2002.