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[ The PC Guide | Procedure Guide | Software Procedures ]

Boot Disk Creation Procedure

Follow this procedure to create a boot disk (bootable floppy disk) for use in starting up your system. It is essential that you have at least one viable boot disk at all times in case you need it in the event of a hard disk problem. You also need boot disks in order to set up a new system or perform operating system installations, or to do clean boot virus scans. For more information, see this section that covers boot disks in detail.

Procedure Overview:

  • Difficulty Level: 2 (Low).
  • Risk Factor: 1 (Very low).
  • Hardware Required: None.
  • Software Required: None.
  • Time to Perform: Five minutes, plus virus scanning time as appropriate.
  • Preparation / Warnings:
    • If you are using the FORMAT command below, do not forget the "A:" parameter when using it.
    • Make sure you do not have any files from the floppy disk open in any applications before you start this procedure.

Procedure Steps:

  1. Virus Scan: The first thing you should always do before creating a boot disk is to scan your system for viruses with a current set of virus definition files. If there are any in the system, especially boot sector viruses, they can be easily transferred to the boot disks you are creating, which is the last thing you need! See this section for more on viruses.
  2. Insert and Check Floppy Disk: Insert a new floppy disk into the drive that you are going to use; normally this is A:, the first floppy drive. Then either open the drive in the Windows Explorer or type "dir a:" from a DOS prompt. Check to make sure that there are no files you need on the disk, because you are about to erase the disk completely. If the disk has never been formatted before you will get an error trying to read the disk. This is normal.
  3. Format and Transfer Operating System: For a standard boot disk under the DOS or Windows 3.x environments, you use the FORMAT.COM program with the "/S" option, as in "format /s a:". This will format the floppy disk in A: and transfer to it the system files. For Windows 95, bring up the Windows Explorer, right-click on the floppy disk icon and select "Format...", then be sure to click the checkbox that says "Copy system files". This will give you a blank bootable disk.
  4. Copy Files: Copy whatever additional files you want to the boot disk. For a complete discussion of the sorts of files you may want on your boot disk(s), see this section.
  5. Write-Protect the Disk: Use the notch or tab on the floppy disk to write-protect it. This is a simple way of making sure that your disks do not become erased by mistake. More importantly, it prevents virus infection on the disk, so you will always know that the disk is safe to boot from.
  6. Test the Disk: Try booting from the new boot disk and make sure that it is working properly and will allow you to boot up the system without the hard disk.

Note: You should always create two of every boot disk you have, in case one of them fails. Floppy disks are notorious for developing read errors over time.

Next: Manual Windows 95 Recovery Procedure


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