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Boot Disk Contents
Depending on how you use your system, you may have one or several boot disks. The main reason for this is that programs are getting larger and larger, and it can be difficult to get all of the contents that you need onto one disk. In addition, many programs such as the Norton Utilities or backup software with disaster recovery, will volunteer to create their own boot disks, sometimes called "emergency disks" or "rescue disks". These will normally use separate physical disks, and sometimes duplicate some of the information that is on your "homemade" disks. There is nothing wrong with this at all, as long as you don't end up with a ridiculous quantity of boot disks.
Regardless of how many disks you have, you should always have duplicates of every one in the set. The simple fact is that floppy disks have a high rate of failure, and you do not want to get a "Sector not found reading drive A:" error as you attempt to reboot to recover from some disaster.
If you have multiple boot disks, it isn't really necessary for every one of them to be bootable. ("Huh?") What I mean is that if you only have one boot disk that holds all the files you need, you must ensure that it contains the operating system files that will let you boot the system. If your boot disk set includes several disks holding items such as your antivirus software or other files, they don't all need to be bootable as long as you have at least two disks that will let you boot the system.
Remember that especially with the operating system and system utilities files, you need to put on the disk the programs that are appropriate to whatever operating system you are using. Putting a copy of DOS 6.22's FORMAT.COM on a Windows 95 boot disk is pointless, because it will not run if the system is booted by that disk (which is DOS 7.x).
Here are some of the items that I think it is important for you to consider putting on your set of boot disks:
If you are using something like Norton Utilities or similar, a good antivirus product, and a backup program with disaster recovery, you may find that you will end up with several different emergency boot disks or "rescue disks". Again, there is nothing wrong with this at all, since floppies are pretty cheap. The only possible disadvantage is that you will spend more time keeping them all up to date.
Warning: One final word: if you
are using a dynamic disk overlay product
like Disk Manager to allow you access to larger hard disks on a system without proper
native BIOS support, you must ensure that you have a boot disk that contains the drive
overlay software as well. Otherwise, if you boot using a regular boot disk, you will not
be able to access your hard disk. This is very important! Usually the disk manager program
itself will come with a utility or menu item to create a boot disk that includes the
Next: Creating Boot Disks