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2. Installing Windows 95

2.1. Basics about Win95 vs. Win 3.x and DOS you MUST know

Back up (Make a copy of) your hard drive first, if you don't know what you're doing! Back up anyway even if you do.

Windows 95 is a very different beast from Windows 3.1, different from MS-DOS, different from anything else out there. Treat it like Windows 95 and not like DOS, and it will install and perform like Windows 95.

This is especially true with installation. Try to remove as many old DOS drivers, TSRs, disk compressors, disk managers, etc before attempting to install. Normally, Setup will recognize a host of such programs and warn you to remove them before continuing. Heed that warning! And if you have any doubts as to what Setup will do to your computer, back up your hard drive first!

One very useful function of Setup is creating a Startup Disk to start the computer from, in case Win95 can't start on its own. Setup will ask you if you want a Startup disk just before it copies its files to your hard drive. Make up a Startup Disk. You can even uninstall Win95 from this startup disk, provided you enabled Uninstallation in Setup (If you installed on top of Win 3.1).

NOTE: The Startup disk that Setup makes for you will not contain any real mode (DOS) drivers for hardware. It only contains basic utilities you'd normally associate with DOS (scandisk, etc) plus utilities to import or export Registry keys (or the entire Registry), and the Uninstaller. You must add drivers to the disk's DOS configuration (and hence you should know how to configure stuff in DOS) if you expect to use such hardware after booting from that disk.

Another very useful tool, though it doesn't get built during Setup, is the Emergency Recovery Disk. If you own a CD-ROM version of Win95, copy the ERU utilities, from Drive:\OTHER\MISC\ERU to your Win95 directory, after you finish installing Win95. Then, when you want to make a recovery disk, run ERU.EXE. Afterwards, if you ever corrupt your Win95 setup, run ERD.EXE (the DOS counterpart to ERU.EXE) to re-build the lost configuration!

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Much of the original Windows 95 install rules above also apply to version 4.00.950B, more commonly known as OSR2, or even (quite mistakenly) "Windows 97". Here are additional points to know before installing 4.00.950B:

  • Without special "attention", 4.00.950B will only install on a clean computer (without DOS, Win 3.1, or Win95, or any other operating system). The OSR2 FAQ (http://www.users.cts.com/king/s/serwin/osr2.html) contains details on how to install 4.00.950B on a system that already has a version of Windows.
  • 4.00.950B's version of DOS (DOS 7.1) will not run Windows 3.1 (as per FAQ pages 3 and 12). This version's IO.SYS includes special code to block other versions of Windows from starting. However, this version of DOS WILL run other DOS apps, including games, as long as they don't perform direct disk writes (even if you use FAT32 file system).

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2.2. How do I install Windows 95 on a computer with...

Well, let me get some basics about the Win95 setup straight first.

Floppy users should first virus-scan their systems before installing from floppies. MS's Knowledge Base article Q136111 explains how viruses can ruin your second disk, because that disk is in DMF (1.68 MB) format. A boot-record virus will remove the DMF boot record, rendering it useless. Alternatively, you can Write-protect the disks; Some idiot at MS's production lab decided they should ship all Microsoft disks write-enabled. That same KB article describes that, while Setup will try to write to Disk 2 with your name & registration info, you can leave the disk write-protected and tell Setup to Ignore the write-protect error.

CD-ROM users: make sure you can read the CD-ROM from DOS. This means loading a real-mode CD-ROM driver into your DOS config, either already on your hard disk or from your boot floppy.

Network users: If you're installing from floppies or CD-ROM, pay attention to the above notes. If you install Win95 through the network, pay attention to the notes in 2.3.3 below. Don't forget to ask your Administrator if you can install Win95; he has to make preparations to his server to let it work!

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You need to prepare a File Allocation Table (FAT) partition on your hard drive to install Windows 95 to. The first bootable partition must use FAT file system, regardless of where you install Win95. If you bought the Win95 package designed for PCs without Windows (meaning NOT the UPGRADE) it will come with a startup disk for this purpose. The startup disk works much like the setup disk for MS-DOS 6.22; it will create a partition and format it for you. The disk also contains the traditional MS-DOS utilities like FDISK, FORMAT, SYS, HIMEM.SYS, to do this manually.

It will then ask for Setup Disk 1 or the CD-ROM, which installs the Win95 setup wizard to take you the rest of the way.

NOTE: Some OEM CD-ROM distributors might not have included an MS-DOS driver for the CD-ROM drive on the startup disk. If this is so, when the boot disk setup asks you for the CD-ROM disk, it won't find it. Tell the manufacturer to correct this. If you're adventurous enough to do this yourself, the CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files on the boot disk have instructions on how to add your DOS CD-ROM driver.

If you choose to install the UPGRADE version on to an empty system, you will need a boot disk with the DOS utilities I mentioned. You will also need your Windows 3.1 Disk 1, as proof that you're eligible for the upgrade.

4.00.950B users MUST use their Win95 boot disk (DOS 7.1), add any needed CD-ROM or network drivers, AND use that particular version of FDISK.EXE to create FAT32 partitions. If you don't want to use FAT32 you can use any DOS version to create hard disk partitions and run the Setup from.

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Most likely you will have the UPGRADE version of Win95, and in the case of the CD-ROM version, you will already have a DOS CD-ROM driver loaded and working. Microsoft recommends you run Win95 setup from within Windows 3.1, which does work, but if you plan on installing Win95 in a separate directory than your existing Windows, you should run setup from DOS instead. Keep it simple.

If you install from within Windows 3.1, and you choose to install on top of your existing Windows, be sure to allow Setup to copy your existing configuration in case you wish to uninstall Win95 later.

A safer bet is to install Win95 in its own directory, which gives you the option to dual-boot between your original DOS and Win95. Uninstalling then becomes a simple matter of "DELTREE WIN95", and removing the remaining traces from the root directory (including a "SYS C:" to restore the original DOS system files).

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Microsoft recommends to uncompress your drive before installing Win95, but it does work with real-mode Stacker drivers. Just install normally, but keep your real-mode Stacker disk drivers installed when you do. You will lose performance on disk access as long as you maintain your DOS version of Stacker. Otherwise the same rules apply as for DOS and Windows 3.x.

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These disk managers allow systems, that otherwise can't handle drives with more than 1024 cylinders, to work with these drives. They're typically larger than 500 megabytes.

Ontrack's Disk Manager (TM), and MicroHouse's DrivePro (TM) work OK with Win95's 32-bit disk drivers, so you can install like you could for an upgrade, but you should consider a BIOS upgrade and a system backup before attempting to install Win95 on systems with >500 MB hard drives. These disk managers can get wiped out by a boot record virus, making your system unstartable! On a system that supports large hard drives by design, a virus strike will not cause such damage (though it will do other nasty stuff of course).

Let me get this 1024 cylinder nonsense straightened out once and for all. IBM compatibles, ever since the XT, cannot start from a hard drive partition with more than 1024 cylinders, even though partitions may exist beyond that and may even be accessible after starting up. The original FAT file system cannot exceed this 1024 cylinder limit either, and FAT partitions can't go past cylinder 1024, regardless of the total number of cylinders. Other file systems easily handle this, but not FAT, nor VFAT (Win95). And no Intel-based PC on this planet can boot from any hard drive partition that sits beyond this limit, regardless of the file system!

Disk manager hacks and LBA translation reduce the number of "logical" cylinders, and usually increase the number of "logical" heads to compensate, in order for these lame PCs to boot up from such a hard drive. Since LBA translation is built in to most Intel-based PCs today, use it. Or upgrade your BIOS. Don't use software to accomplish this translation, and don't waste time with other software hacks or "magic" to work around this.

One precaution to prevent a virus strike (and other mistakes, like booting off a non-system disk), is to set your BIOS to always boot from drive C: (like C: first, A: second, or C, A) so your disk manager software will always load before anything else does.

A very kind representative from Ontrack took the time to clear up the statements I made in this particular FAQ question:

2. If you have a "normal" DOS MBR, and the system gets hit
with a boot-sector virus. Oh, yes, the PC boots, but the 
nasty virus is lurking to do its dirty work with no warning 
from DOS at all.
3. Now, if you have Ontrack's Dynamic Drive Overlay (DDO), 
the virus over-writes part of the DDO code, and the user 
cannot boot the PC, but usually gets a warning like "DDO 
Integrity Error" which means just what it states, something 
has corrupted the DDO code. In most cases, that "something" 
is the nasty virus. The user gets a warning, knows something 
is wrong, and then is able to take the steps to remedy the damage.

These two points are the ones I'll ponder here:

2) If the PC can at least boot, you will be able to start your system with some kind of boot disk (Remember the Startup Disk? Did you make one?) and run a DOS version of a virus killer to remove the boot record virus. Win95's quite attentive in this respect; you'll know if you have a boot record virus as soon as the Desktop appears. Oh you could load DDO drivers in config.sys on the boot disk (DM 6.03 includes instructions on how to do this) but you still won't be able to repair the DDO partition table without destroying the rest of the disk (since the virus already destroyed it). The best you could do is back up the data onto another hard disk and install the Win95 DOS startup files (SYS x: (x=Target drive)) on it. Regardless of our Ontrack friend's claims, I did not find a utility on the DM disk to repair the DDO partition table without destroying everything afterwards (DDO boot record, FATs, directory tree, etc)

3) I didn't get any warning at all besides "Non-system disk or disk error" on the virus infected DDO drive. If I were a typical reader of this FAQ, meaning, "All I know how to do is hit the Start button, tell me more," this error message would mean nothing more to me than, "my hard disk is toast, please help me fix it."

Here's more from our Ontrack rep:

Just another tidbit on the off-chance that you are unaware 
of new BIOS limitations. There are a number of newer LBA 
BIOS's that have limitations at 2.1GB, 3.27GB as well as 
4.2GB. Here again, Ontrack's Disk Manager comes back into 
play to solve these problems.

I know, anyone who knows anything about LBA will have comments about this.

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Simply perform your normal installation as per the Upgrade.

Win95 comes with 32-bit versions of the DoubleSpace/DriveSpace drivers and they will unload the real mode drivers from memory when Win95 runs.

4.00.950B comes with DriveSpace 3 and the utilities needed to convert existing compressed drives to DriveSpace 3. You should pay attention to the info in FAQ page 11 for more DriveSpace 3 help.

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Microsoft does not support installing Win95 on systems with OS/2, any version. Attempting to install Win95 on a system like this will wipe out any capability of starting OS/2.

However, if you use Boot Manager, you can install Win95 in a partition of its own, or in the same partition as MS-DOS. This will isolate Win95 from OS/2. Setup will temporarily disable Boot Manager by making the DOS partition the active partition. To re-enable Boot Manager after installing Win95, run FDISK and make the Boot Manager partition (the little 1 MB partition of type Non-DOS) the active partition again. This also has the advantage of using HPFS file system on the OS/2 boot partition.

Of course, installing Win95 on an HPFS partition is not possible. Win95 doesn't have any HPFS file system drivers yet, though I'm hoping for it.

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Supposedly, Setup will recognize NTLDR.COM and insert itself into the list of OSes to boot from. As long as you have a FAT partition to install Win95 to, this will work. Win95 does not support installation on an NTFS partition either.

If you want to triple-boot between DOS, Win95, and NT, MS has some wicked setup procedure that lets you use NTLDR to pick your booting OS (like OS/2's Boot Manager). The details are in the Win95 Resource Kit.

WARNING: Do not install Windows NT 4.0 on top of an existing Win95 installation! Likewise don't install Win95 on top of NT. The Registry acts quite differently between these versions.

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NOT RECOMMENDED, though it is possible. The big reason is Win95 will use a network drive for its Virtual Memory swap file, which will cause heavy traffic on the file server. Put minimum 16 MB memory on each diskless workstation, to minimize swapping to the server. Also see How to prevent random hard drive access, to further reduce server swapping.

To perform a diskless install of Win95, you need a server based install already on the file server. You also need a real mode connection to the network (either on a boot disk, or a virtual floppy on the file server via a boot EPROM on the network card). You merely install all the Win95 files into your home directory, wherever that is. Unfortunately, this only works with real mode network clients; you can't use 32-bit network components on a completely diskless workstation.

If you use a boot EPROM, you need to make a virtual boot disk with the Win95 system files (IO.SYS etc) on it. Use whatever utilities come with your network server to do this. Other details are in Microsoft's Knowledge Base article Q133349.

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You merely install it on the notebook as you would on any other computer. Because of complications with CD-ROM and network support on some notebook computers, I suggest you use the floppy disk version because you don't need to load any fancy drivers, as compared to the CD-ROM version, to get running.

Setup will recognize special brands of notebook computers (Toshiba and Zenith for example), and you should change the "Computer Type" if it did not. This lets Setup tune the power management features to work with it.

Once you finish, run the PC Card control panel (My Computer / Control Panel / PC Card) to let Win95 install 32-bit PC card support for it.

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First, don't use XCOPY. I'm telling you this up front because too many people out there just can't get this image-copying of Win95 right. Sure, there are utilities for copying the long filenames etc from DOS, but not all of us can handle this. So here's my sure fire way of copying Win95 from one hard drive to another and keeping ALL settings in tact.

  1. Hook up your target hard drive and partition it using FDISK or whatever. Let's say it's Drive D: but it could be any drive letter. Use a Primary partition. Don't worry about making it active; we do that later.
  2. Run Win95, and right-click on the target drive and hit "Format..." Make sure you turn on "Copy system files" (so it copies the IO.SYS and boot record properly.) Quick or Full format will work; if it's an old drive you might want to use Full format so it can scan the surface of that disk for errors.
  3. In any Explorer window, hit View / Options... and turn on "Show all files". This way you'll copy the 20 MB or so of hidden files and Registry, and maintain all their original attributes and long filenames.
  4. Copy the Win95 directory's contents first. (This is in case you let Win95 manage virtual memory...) Make a folder on your target with the same name as your Win95 directory. Then select ALL files and folders except for Win386.SWP if it exists, and drag them to the Win95 folder on the target. (You can hit Edit/Select All to do this quickly, then hold CTRL and click on the WIN386.SWP file to unselect that file.)
  5. Now copy the rest of the hard drive. Select ALL files from the Root of the source drive, and unselect IO.SYS, COMMAND.COM, Win386.SWP if it exists, and your Win95 directory! Be sure to leave MSDOS.SYS selected! (Don't forget, MSDOS.SYS is really a settings file now!) Then drag them on to your target.
  6. When all this copying is done, install your target hard drive into its system, and have a DOS boot disk handy with FDISK.EXE on it. Boot with that floppy, run FDISK, and make the new partition active. All done.

NOTE: I won't post or entertain thoughts on copying a Win95 installation any other way, so stop sending me messages about DOSLFNBK, GHOST, or any other copy utility.

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2.3. How do I install Windows 95 from...

For basic systems, and notebooks, this is the best source to install from. Setup will detect all hardware it can, and add protected mode support for it. It does take a while to sit and flip disks, but you will have a clean installation afterwards. This also gives you a good excuse to delete or hide your CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT before running Setup.

First, boot to DOS, then run SETUP on disk 1. If you don't already have DOS on the computer, boot using any DOS disk and prepare the hard drive for a normal DOS installation. The Stand-alone version of Win95 will have a boot disk for this purpose.

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You need a real mode CD-ROM driver in place to run Setup initially. My favorite method is to prepare a boot disk (or use the boot disk from the non-upgrade version) which loads the CD-ROM drivers, then runs Setup from the CD-ROM.) This way there's no chance of Setup arguing with a CONFIG.SYS file on the target drive.

A boot disk only needs these entries in CONFIG.SYS:

DEVICE=(your CD-ROM driver) /D:MSCD001 (and whatever parameters it needs)

And these lines in AUTOEXEC.BAT:

MSCDEX /D:MSCD001 /M:4 (and whatever preferences you have)
SMARTDRV 2048 2048

I suggest including SmartDrive to speed up the first part of installation. Include SmartDrive AFTER MSCDEX so it can cache the CD-ROM accesses.

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Server based installs work like they did back in Win 3.1, but you need to run a different setup program, NETSETUP.EXE, to install the server copy. NETSETUP comes on the upgrade CD-ROM version, and on the stand alone CD-ROM version, in ADMIN\NETTOOLS\NETSETUP.

NOTE: NETSETUP does not come with the floppies or OEM CD-ROM. And you can't get it from Microsoft's web site, either. You need the full or upgrade CD-ROM version to find it.

Perhaps the two best advantages of using NETSETUP to make a server based install, are 1: you can do shared installs, saving local hard drive space, and 2: you can apply service packs and other components to server installs, which will take effect for server based, and local installs. Service Pack 1 Admin Edition includes a utility to apply the service pack to a server based install.


  1. Install Win95 on one computer as a stand-alone, and install network support for it so you can write to the server drives.
  2. Run NETSETUP from the CD-ROM disk. It will list several tasks you must do to complete the server install.
  3. Do the first task: specify the target server and directory you will install the admin copy to.
  4. Do the second task: specify the source drive (usually the CD-ROM) and install. It will perform three passes of installs; one for stand-alone installs, one for shared installs, and one for the initial setup files.
  5. (optional) Write an installation script. The script editor is rather simple; you use the option menus to turn options on and off, to specify what network components to load, and settings for them.
  6. Done. Go to a workstation and run SETUP from the server to test the install, and any install script you wrote.

One dumb thing about NETSETUP is you have to run it from Windows 95, which means you have to install Win95 once, then run NETSETUP on that station. NETSETUP will run in Windows 3.1, but you won't be able to create an installation script until you run it from Win95.

You could also just share out the Win95 CD-ROM over the network and run Setup from that, or copy all of the WIN95 directory to a single directory on the server, if you won't be doing any shared or diskless installs.

NOTE: Installing the OEM CD-ROM version to a server using NETSETUP does not entirely work! The OEM version includes the MS Internet Explorer from Plus, and the PRECOPY.CAB files contain references to those components. NETSETUP will not attempt to install those, which is why MS didn't bother including it with the OEM version. You could find out what files it looks for and manually insert them, but that's a bit of a pain. You'll just have to shell out the $250.00 for the non-upgrade, non-OEM, Win95 CD-ROM. Installing the UPGRADE version works, but it will bug you for Win 3.1 evidence before it will install.

I'm thinking about doing a server-based setup FAQ page because of the questions about MSBATCH.INF and controlling installations with it. There are, in fact, some pretty cool tricks you can do to Win95's server based installations.

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2.4. I'm having problems with...

On systems with bizarre DOS configurations, you may get a "Windows protection error", or "This VxD conflicts with another driver already loaded". This is because a DOS driver loaded before WIN.COM loaded, and a corresponding protected mode driver can't load.

To avoid this, just when the computer reboots for part two of setup, press F8 when you see "Starting Windows 95..." then select "Safe mode command prompt only". From here, delete or rename your CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files. Then re-boot and proceed with part two normally.

You may get this error if you use an unrecognized CD-ROM driver (Usually the case for IDE CD-ROMs), or if you use a DOS network driver and a Win95 net card driver tries to load. The above technique will work around both these cases.

If you have to do this, you won't be able to configure a printer or copy any other drivers until you finish Setup. No matter; if it asks you for Win95 files, just cancel, and wait until Setup finishes.

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The disks come in MS's new "DMF" format, which holds nearly 2 MB on a 1.44 MB disk. The first disk is a standard 1.44 MB disk, and Setup loads a driver to read the DMF disks.

A DMF disk can get destroyed by a boot record virus, because the virus over-writes the DMF boot record. As a precaution, write-protect the floppies before using them. For some really dumb reason, Microsoft insisted on shipping the disks write-enabled.

Setup will also try to write your registration info on disk 2. If you have the disk write protected, you can just hit "Continue" and Setup will continue without writing to the disk. For details, read KB article Q136111.

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If you re-run Setup on a bad installation of Win95, you will get a prompt to use "Safe Recovery". This will let you either Undo the install, or Redo the install using safer detection techniques. My suggestion is to Undo the install, then use the technique above, regarding Rebooting after first part of setup. Also, try installing on a target drive with no DOS startup files (CONFIG.SYS).

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This means Setup didn't load protected mode CD-ROM drivers for your drive, which happens for many reasons. This will only affect your ability to add printer drivers and setting up MS Exchange, both of which you can skip and do later.

You should make sure, after finishing Setup, you bug the CD-ROM manufacturer for a Win95 driver. Also check the section on SCSI and IDE CD-ROM support.

PCI IDE or PCI SCSI adapters won't kick in until the second re-boot, so such CD-ROMs won't work until then. Just let it finish and it will work.

Later on, if you have to use real mode CD-ROM or net card drivers, you can add printers and set up Exchange once you can use the CD-ROM or network again.

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If you installed network support but you didn't get a network log in at the start of part two (so you can access the file server), this means the Win95 network support didn't install correctly. As per the CD-ROM install, you can skip the Exchange and Printer setup until you get the protected mode network support working.

PCI net cards won't operate at all until the second re-boot, when the PCI Bus driver kicks in. Just let it finish and your net card will work on the second re-boot. ISA PnP cards react the same way.

This could also mean you skipped network support to begin with, or it could not load a network card driver. Again, you can skip the Exchange and Printer setup until you correct this.

NOTE: There is a way to work around this minor problem; use a real mode network client (Either NETX, VLM, or Workgroup Connection for DOS) to run Setup from, and tell it to use your Existing ODI or NDIS 2 driver. This is the default net card choice if you install from a server-based copy. The second time it re-boots it will read your real mode driver and add the components needed to make it work with 32-bit network software. Finally, after you log in to the server to continue Setup, it will detect your net card and replace the ODI or NDIS 2 support with the appropriate Win95 support.

This method of loading network support for PCI and ISA PnP cards can produce some unusual side effects. For example, if you booted from a floppy disk to get on the network, Part 2 of Setup will try to read the NDIS 2 or ODI driver from the floppy disk! If this occurs you will get a "General failure reading Drive A:" error message. When you do, re-insert that disk and hit "Retry" so Setup will continue.

Another side effect is Win95 shutting down in the middle of a driver file copy! To prevent this, make sure you erase this line in MSBATCH.INF on the Server copy:

NoPrompt2Boot=1 (Or set it to 0)

This line immediately re-boots the computer after the end of all the Setup Part 2 stuff. If you remove it, Setup will prompt you to re-start the computer when it's all finished. You should wait until Win95 detects and installs all other hardware before you press "OK" on this requester. If Win95 asks you to re-start the computer at any other time, tell it NO.

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2.5. Can I install two separate copies of Win95?

The problem with this is there's only one MSDOS.SYS file, which points to only one copy of Windows 95. You could edit MSDOS.SYS (which is just a text file in Win95) to point to either copy, but this is annoying. A better technique is to borrow someone's copy of OS/2 and install Boot Manager, then have two bootable partitions, each with its own copy of Win95.

The first technique is great, however, for developers experimenting with their apps, without destroying their primary copy of Win95, and for those without friends using OS/2.

4.00.950B users can't use FAT32 file system if you install a non-950B version alongside a 950B version. Be careful.

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2.6. How do I install old DOS and Windows 3.1 on a Win95 system?

I do not recommend installing old DOS on a Win95 machine at all. Win95's included MS-DOS 7.0, in Single Mode, can run anything that previous versions of DOS can, including Windows 3.1 or Windows for Workgroups! If you have to run old DOS programs that don't run in DOS sessions in Win95, check out the Running MS-DOS Games page.

With that aside, to install the missing utilities that DOS 7.0 blatantly forgot from DOS 6.22:

  1. Find the OLDMSDOS directory on the Win95 CD-ROM in OTHER\OLDMSDOS, or download them from Microsoft's web site.
  2. Run the INSTALL.BAT from that directory, within Win95.
  3. When asked to, shut down and re-start your computer. This is because the old DOS programs are really from DOS 6.22, and the batch file SETVER's them to that version of DOS.

You'll find other old DOS toys in the directories of OTHER, including MSD and MSBACKUP.

To install Windows 3.1 or Windows for Workgroups on a system running Win95:

  1. Find your original Win 3.1/WFWG disks of course. Silly.
  2. Exit to Single mode DOS by Start Menu/Shut Down, and "Restart computer in MS-DOS Mode".
  3. Make copies of any CONFIG.SYS or AUTOEXEC.BAT you have (You shouldn't have these anyway!)
  4. Run SETUP.EXE from your Win 3.1 disk 1 and install normally, into any directory that Win95 isn't in! Like C:\WIN31
  5. When Setup finishes, choose the option to Exit to DOS.
  6. Make copies of any changes that Win 3.1 Setup made to your CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT, and restore your original versions of these files. You'll need these copies later on!
  7. Type EXIT to go back into Win95.
  8. Find WIN.COM in your Win 3.1 installation, right-click on that file, and hit "Properties".
  9. Hit the Program tab, hit Advanced, hit "MS-DOS Mode", hit "Specify new MS-DOS Configuration."
  10. In the empty spaces below, copy & paste the text from the saved CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT that Win 3.1 Setup modified. CTRL-V works in these text boxes to paste text from the clipboard in. Add a LOCK C: to the end of the special AUTOEXEC.BAT (for 32-bit disk and file access, if you wish to use it).
  11. Modify the resulting text entries so you use the right versions of these files. Finally OK everything.

Use Win95 versions (C:\WIN95\.....) of these files:

  • EMM386.EXE

Use Win 3.1 versions (C:\WIN31\... or C:\WINDOWS\...) of these files (WFWG actually)

  • MSCDEX (If you share a CD-ROM via WFWG)

When you double-click on WIN.COM here, or on its resulting PIF file (Shortcut to MS-DOS program), your computer will re-start using this special DOS configuration. When you exit Win 3.1, Win95 will re-start. Trust me; this is the absolute best way to get Win 3.1 working on a Win95 machine, if you don't have an older DOS already installed.

NOTE: Windows for Workgroups, in particular, will ask you to "Restart Computer" sometimes. This is fine; Win95 won't try to re-start because a line in the special AUTOEXEC.BAT (WIN.COM /EX) won't execute, and your computer will re-start still using the special DOS configuration. The only way to get back into Win95 safely, is to exit Win 3.1 with Program Manager (File/Exit Windows).

Also notice, that you'll find files named CONFIG.W40 and AUTOEXEC.W40 in your hard drive. These files are Win95's DOS configuration. Leave them alone! Don't touch them! Win95 copies these back to CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT when you finish with Win 3.1.

And don't try to install old DOS on a Win95 machine. Just don't. You'll regret it. And don't ask me why. You'll regret hearing why.

4.00.950B users will discover a VERY ANNOYING message when they try to run Win 3.1 under 950B's version of DOS (MS-DOS 7.1): "The version of MS-DOS you are running is incompatible with this version of Windows. Your system had been halted." (grrr... this string is hard-wired into IO.SYS so I think this is a deliberate hack on MS's part)

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2.7. Why should I make a startup disk?

(Why didn't I think of this question? Thanks guys)

The startup disk contains a handful of basic utilities you can use to fix your broken Win95 installation, and even uninstall Win95. The traditional DOS utilities for disk management are in there, as are a version of EDIT, REGEDIT, and the uninstaller.

To make a startup disk, answer "YES" to the question about the startup disk. If you skipped this part and want to make up a startup disk, run Control Panel, Add/Remove Programs, and hit the "Startup Disk" tab.

  • Notes regarding REGEDIT on the startup disk

The version of REGEDIT on the startup disk only lets you import and export Registry pieces (or the whole Registry) to text files you can edit using good ol' EDIT. To build an editable copy of the Registry, change to your Win95 directory and type:


This will export the two Registry files to a text file with said name. Copy this text file to a separate floppy disk (it'll exceed 1 MB easily) and edit it as you feel necessary.

To completely re-create a Registry from this backup text file, from your Win95 directory type this:


REGEDIT can also import and export portions of the Registry. Outside of Win95, type REGEDIT by itself for a list of extra options.

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2.8. Top ten installation mistakes

10. Hitting the "exit" button on the 13th disk

9. Lending your install disks to a friend, after you let Setup write your name to Disk 2

8. Installing on your station at work, without letting your M.I.S. manager know (He'll find out though...)

7. Installing on top of Windows 3.1 without enabling Uninstall

6. Installing from a unsupported CD-ROM drive or network

5. Installing on a system that doesn't work with 32-bit disk & file access in WFWG 3.11

4. Restoring a backup of old Windows on top of your new Win95 install (real dumb)

3. Not doing a backup of old Windows before installing

2. Leaving the floppies write-enabled while installing

1. Installing from a BOOTLEG CD-ROM (Watch it: They're showing up now. Buy the original and save yourself the troubles!)

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2.9. Things to try before re-installing

Oh No! You installed some 16-bit program and it over-wrote too many Win95 system files! You need to re-install... or some other disaster makes you think you need to re-install.

Not. Win95 has a pretty good defense mechanism against 16-bit programs that replace system files, and other disasters. All key system files have a backup copy in %WINDIR%\SYSBCKUP (where %WINDIR% is where you installed Win95). Most cases, Win95 will detect that system files got over-written and it'll offer to copy Win95 versions back. Let it do so! This includes any WINSOCK.DLL files (You should use Win95's dial up networking anyway, not Win 3.1 dialers like Trumpet).

If it doesn't do that, you can always copy them back yourself. Go into "Safe mode command prompt only" (Press F8 on "Starting Windows 95..." then select said option), then:


from the DOS prompt.

Also, try editing SYSTEM.INI. Inspect the [386Enh] section for any additional "device=xxxxx.386" drivers. On a clean Win95 install, you shouldn't have ANY of these files. This goes double for any "vshare.386" files that show up; Win95 has a built-in *vshare driver. Removing old Win 3.1 386 Enhanced drivers will clear up many problems.

If you get a "Registry corrupted" error of some kind, inspect your hard drive for errors. On the requester that tells you to "Restore from backup and Restart", press CTRL-ESC to bring up the Win95 task manager, and run SCANDSKW.EXE from there to check the drive for errors. SCANDSKW does a better job of scanning Win95 drives, and it handles long filename problems better than SCANDISK does at the DOS prompt. Once it finishes, you can hit that button to restore the Registry and re-start. However, if you continue to get this kind of error, start investigating your hard drive system. You might be over-driving your HD at Mode 4 when it's not designed for it, for example. Or maybe the drive's just on its last legs and dying. Do a back up as soon as you can!

This Registry stuff is actually a good reason to use User Profiles. Each user will have their own copy of the second half of the Registry; the USER.DAT file. If the master USER.DAT gets ruined and you need to completely re-install, you can bring back your program settings for your 32-bit programs just by logging in as one of the users. Your hardware (SYSTEM.DAT) config is still toast, but you can rebuild that easy enough just by re-running the "Add new hardware" control panel.

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2.10. Things to do before re-installing to ensure good re-installation

OK, the above techniques didn't work and you have to re-install. Here's what to do to make re-installing work best:

Plan to re-install from DOS, not from within Windows or Win95. This way it'll assume a fresh installation.

From the DOS prompt outside of Win95, change to your %WINDIR% directory, and type this:


This will unhide the Registry files SYSTEM.DAT and USER.DAT. Then delete them. That's right, delete them. A corrupted Registry will cause no end of trouble until it's killed dead. If you have user profiles you can restore USER.DAT easily enough.

If you were smart enough to make up a Registry backup with the startup disk, you can try re-building it after you delete the SYSTEM.DAT and USER.DAT, if you're sure that the backup is a good copy. Still outside of Win95, change to your Win95 directory and type:


This will kill the current Registry files and re-build them from the .REG text file. If necessary, specify the disk path in the filename, after all, that .REG file will easily exceed 1 MB, and you probably copied it to a separate disk.

If you didn't make a Registry backup, you'll have to re-install your 32-bit apps and settings, but that's safer than trying to use a corrupted Registry.

Remove all the DOS drivers and TSRs you can, so it won't hinder Win95's Setup. If you have the CD-ROM version, only have the DOS CD driver, HIMEM.SYS, and MSCDEX loaded.

Edit the remaining SYSTEM.INI to remove all foreign drivers from the [386Enh] section. A clean SYSTEM.INI's [386Enh] section will look exactly like this:

mouse=*vmouse, msmouse.vxd ; the mouse driver may vary, but shouldn't be .386 files
PagingDrive=C:             ; this may vary depending on where you put the swap file
MinPagingFileSize=32768    ; these will vary depending on your swap file
MaxPagingFileSize=32768    ; Or they may be even missing, that's OK

You might also have a "device=*vpowerd" if you have power management on your system. Don't forget: All of Win95's drivers really sit in the Registry, not here.

The best bit of advice I can offer, regarding disaster recovery, is use the Backup program which comes with Win95, or use any backup program designed for Win95, to do a Full System Backup. This kind of backup will copy The Registry to tape as well as the hidden and system files. When you complete the re-install, restoring this tape will restore all your original settings. All of them.

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2.11. Top ten re-installation mistakes

10. Inserting the 13th disk before reading the "Things to try before re-installing" section

9. Restoring your old Windows 3.1 backup on top of your re-installed Win95 (again? Shame on you)

8. Not reading the Installation part of the FAQ over again before re-installing

7. Forgetting to uncompress your DriveSpace drive before reinstalling

(It's best to make a separate compressed volume, and keep your Win95 directory OFF it)

6. Forgetting to erase the corrupt Registry before re-installing

5. Using that BOOTLEG CD-ROM to re-install from (Didn't you learn the first time?)

4. Re-installing the Win 3.1 program that made you re-install Win95

3. Forgetting to remove old garbage from SYSTEM.INI, CONFIG.SYS, AUTOEXEC.BAT

2. Ignoring the Installation part of the FAQ, which might've prevented the need to re-install

1. Not backing up your system after you re-installed Win95

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2.12. Things to try before giving up

You can read the Re-Installation part of this FAQ, which covers some ways of fixing problems without re-installing, and which covers some tips to make a good re-installation.

Failing that, try again from scratch, with an empty system (Meaning BACK-UP your system first, THEN delete everything and try again), using the techniques in the Installation part of this FAQ. Completely kill everything, even, if necessary, doing a low-level format from your BIOS setup. Yes I know that you aren't supposed to re-low-level-format IDE and SCSI hard drives, but it does work in a pinch.

Failing that, check with the hardware makers for Win95 versions of drivers, etc, and look in the MS Knowledge Base, and see about trading your hardware for Win95 compatible types. Don't waste your time with unsupported hardware. Check out the Hardware Compatibility List which contains a lot of out-dated crap, but they did sort it by manufacturer nicely for you.

Also check with your software makers and tell them to get their ASSES in gear, and make Win95 compliant versions of their software, or to fix their Win 3.1 software to make it work. (Soapbox mode on) Microsoft didn't spend a whole year and a half of beta testing, just to be ignored. Even though this is what Novell/WordPerfect Corporation did. They're awake now... (Soapbox mode off)

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2.13. How do I uninstall Windows 95 from…

If you enabled the UN-INSTALL feature back in Setup, go to Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel, and remove Windows 95. This will restore your original Windows config files, your original DOS config files, and the original partition table and boot record of the target drive.

If you didn't enable uninstall, you'll have to trash your Win95 directory using the technique below, and re-install Win 3.1 fresh.

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There's no fancy uninstaller for this kind of installation. However, you can just:

DELTREE C:\WIN95 (or wherever)

and that'll work. To do this, get your DOS setup disks and boot from the first disk. Then, exit that setup program to a DOS prompt. From here you type:

DELTREE C:\WIN95 (or wherever)
DELTREE C:\PROGRA~1 (The old "Program files" directory)

then re-boot.

You can then run Windows 3.1 File Manager, with "Show Hidden/System Files" turned on, to hunt for other files you don't recognize.

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If you installed DriveSpace 3 from MS Plus and you chose to uninstall Win95, you can still access DriveSpace 3 drives, as it keeps the real mode component DRVSPACE.BIN there. DOS will recognize this version of DRVSPACE.BIN and load it. Of course, it'll eat 100 KB of conventional memory, so you had better back up your compressed drive and re-partition it, to kill DriveSpace 3 completely. Otherwise, the techniques above for removing Win95 will work just fine.

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The techniques above will work for a server based install, just make sure you get your right version of DOS and your old DOS network drivers back when you do it. It's also a lot less to delete.

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You'll need to change back to your DOS boot disk or DOS virtual boot disk, then just clean out Win95 from your home directory. If you installed on top of a Win 3.1 diskless install, you're better off re-installing Win 3.1 fresh.

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2.14. Top ten UN-installation mistakes

10. Reading the Things to try before giving up section after Uninstalling

9. Reading the Re-Installation section of the FAQ after uninstalling

8. Forgetting to convert the important MS Word (TM) 7 document, when uninstalling

7. Forgetting that your database was written in Access 95 (TM) when uninstalling

6. Forgetting to try restoring that backup you made before uninstalling

5. Calling Microsoft tech support after uninstalling (Think they'll help you now?)

4. Uninstalling, then realizing that your software vendor isn't selling Win 3.1 stuff anymore

3. Having a friend or technician discover a virus after you thought Win95 caused all your troubles, and after you uninstalled

2. Uninstalling because the program you need to use the most doesn't work (The program's broken, not the OS)

1. Buying Win95 in the first place, if you uninstalled for keeps

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