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[ The PC Guide | Troubleshooting and Repair Guide | The Troubleshooting Expert | Troubleshooting The System Overall | Troubleshooting Run-Time Error Messages ]

Cannot load COMMAND.COM, system halted

Explanation: When you boot up DOS, you are placed at what is commonly called the "C: prompt", where you can type commands or run programs. The part of DOS that reads what you type and executes commands is called the command interpreter, which is stored in the file "COMMAND.COM". This interpreter is loaded when you start the system or when you start an MS-DOS session under Windows 95, and is also reloaded in some cases when you finish running a program. In this case, the system was unable to find COMMAND.COM and therefore halted the system.

Diagnosis: Part of COMMAND.COM resides in conventional memory under normal circumstances. It uses memory that might be needed by DOS programs. To make sure that these programs can use as much conventional memory as possible, COMMAND.COM allows the memory it uses to be overwritten by a DOS program that needs it, and then reloads itself when the program completes. The error message occurs when the COMMAND.COM file cannot be found to reload. The most common cause of this problem is renaming or moving COMMAND.COM on the hard disk, and then forgetting to reboot the system. It can also be caused in some cases by booting from a floppy disk and then removing the disk from the system after running a program. When the program completes the system will try to go back to the floppy disk to find COMMAND.COM, see an empty drive, and hang up.

Recommendation:

  • Make sure that COMMAND.COM is in the C:\ root directory, or if it somewhere else, that there is a line in AUTOEXEC.BAT that reads "COMSPEC=X:\PATH" where "X:\PATH" is wherever COMMAND.COM resides.
  • Edit the PATH command in your AUTOEXEC.BAT file, if you are trying to run a command in another directory that should be accessible from anywhere.

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