Re-establishing CD-Rom Drive after formatting hard drive

Posted on 1998-11-09
Last Modified: 2013-12-16
When re-building a computer's software from scratch (after formatting the C: drive), what's the best way to re-establish the CD-Rom drive so I can reinstall my software from the CD's. Is there a way to make a boot/restore disk of some sort (before I remove everything) that will do this?  Also, should I include restoration of other important drivers - video, network cards etc....
Thanks, RickH
Question by:rickh082997
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Expert Comment

ID: 1759232
Hi rickh,

I've always done a complete reinstall of Windows 95 by doing the following):

<<< To be done before formatting drive >>>

1.   Down DOS-based driver for CD-Rom in question.  Save to
     floppy (bottable or not...does not matter to me anyway)

2.   Get DOS disk handy

3.   Have Windows 3.1 disk handy (if you are using the Windows 95
     Upgrade will ask you for it.)

<<< After you've downloaded and saved driver >>>

1.  format drive.

2.  Install DOS.

3.  Install DOS-based CD-Rom driver.

4.  Run Windows 95's setup program on CD-Rom.

5.  Insert Windows 3.1x disk when asked (if using upgrade.)

6.  You are off!!!

NB:  You may want to download Windows95-based drivers for your
     various devices...especially if they do not come on the
     Windows 95 CD-Rom (such as IOmega drivers, various print
     drivers, etc., sound cards and video drivers, etc.)...
     but for the most part, if you can establish a working
     network connection once Windows 95 is up and running, you
     can download and install them then...

Hope this is helpful.

LVL 95

Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 1759233
Do a print out of you're system's configuration from device manager (system control panel).  This will help you to know everything you have installed and what drivers and resources they use.

You should find references to you're CD's dos driver in config.sys or perhaps an old version of config.sys (some programs will edit out the line and backup the file as CONFIG.B~K or CONFIG.OLD or some other other extension).  You're looking for a line with a "/D:MSCD001" (or similar, it should have a /D: to it).  That's almost certainly you're cd-rom driver.  If you can't find it (as win95 doesn't require it once it's setup), go to the CD-ROM drive's manufacturer's web site and download the dos driver for it.  If you don't know who manufactured your CD-ROM drive, I suggest going to and downloading their CD-ROM driver for DOS.  They work with a wide variety of CD-ROM drives (but there will be some exceptions).

Then make the dos boot disk with the appropriate drivers for the CD-ROM and TEST IT FIRST!  It's not a good thing to wipe a drive thinking you've got a working boot disk and you don't.

Once formatted, copy the cd drivers, mscdex,  and config.sys and autoexec.bat (modified to work from the C drive) to the C drive.  95 has a nasty habbit of asking for the CD after it reboots and it won't see the CD drive after the first reboot unless you have the dos drivers there and prepared to load.

As for the other drivers, don't worry too much about them.  Wouldn't hurt having them, but as long as you have that print out of what's installed, then it's not required; you're system should be able to get to a functional state that you can download drivers as needed for your devices.  And 95 may already have many of them.

(Actually, you don't need to install DOS, just the config files and drivers for the CD-ROM drive.  And if you're having trouble with an Upgrade version (using it to install on a fresh system and you don't have a 3.1 Disk1 handy), you can look over Option 3 from - it might work for you.

Author Comment

ID: 1759234
Thanks for the comments. I am starting to get the idea, but I was unable to make any of this work. I have no floppy disk copies of old Windows versions - only the CD versions. So, with a Win95 Startup Disk I can boot to A: and C: drives but no D: drive. Next, the proper CD-Rom DOS drivers come in an executable program which downloads a couple of drivers and a help file and a setup.exe. Also the MSCDEX is an executable program. Then there's the config.sys file. I do not see how all of these work together. Who goes first, (Who's on first?), where do they all go? Is there a more specific list of instructions anywhere.  
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LVL 95

Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 1759235
Assuming you've download the Mistumi driver (MTMCDAI.SYS) then the minimal files you need on the floppy are as follows:

The following three files are transferred when you "sys" a floppy disk - SYS A: or use the /S switch when formating - FORMAT A: /S

Then you need to have:

You manually create the config.sys file in EDIT or NOTEPAD or some other Text-only editor and it should have the following lines in it.


You also manually create the autoexec.bat file just as you did the config.sys file with the following line in it:


The MTMCDAI.SYS makes a connection to the CD-ROM drive and the MSCDEX.EXE file assigns it a drive letter.

You should now get a message upon completion of booting stating what Drive letter has been assigned to the CD.  If you change to that drive you should be able to see the files on a CD-ROM (provided you have one in the drive)

Lastly, copy the CONFIG.SYS, AUTOEXEC.BAT, MTMCDAI.SYS and MSCDEX.EXE files to the C:\ drive.  This way, when 95 reboots, it'll still be able to recognize the CD-ROM drive.  Incidentally, don't add paths to the files.  If you say DEVICE=A:\MTMCDAI.SYS, it won't load because 95 will be rebooting from the hard disk and not the floppy this time.  Make the config.sys and autoexec.bat exactly as I typed them.

Now the above config will NOT give any kind of memory management or access to memory above 640K.  But for the install, YOU DON'T NEED IT.

Look over the web site I posted in my previous comment for tips on getting around 95's insistance on having the appropriate version (OEM or Upgrade) if you have problems.

More questions?  Comments?  If this works, as I believe it should, I'll post it as an answer.

Author Comment

ID: 1759236
OK, this works good. Only one problem. After successfully booting with the floppy disk, establishing the CD-ROM drive, and copying the four files to c:, when I'm rebooting from c: (floppy drive empty now) I get the error: invalid system disk, replace the disk then press any key. It hangs there and won't proceed until I put the boot disk back in. Is there more code I need to add to the autoexec.bat or config.sys file? Go ahead and post as an answer.

Expert Comment

ID: 1759237
You need to run the "sys c:" command from the floppy once you have booted it.  Otherwise your hard drive will not be bootable.
To do this you need the file on the floppy drive.

Expert Comment

ID: 1759238
What are you trying to reinstall - Win95B or Win98? If this is the case, you do not have to reinstall DOS. The system error occurred because you have different versions of DOS/Windows - one on the floppy and another on the C: drive. The full Win95/win98 vs. Upgrade Win95/98 are totally different and incompatible.

Have you formatted your hard drive yet? If not, what do you have in terms of hardware and especially operating system? This makes a BIG difference on how to create a bootable floppy with CDROM support to reinstall an operating system. How did you exactly create that bootable floppy of yours and what are trying to install now?

I am asking these questions, because it definitely sounds like you are trying to install a different version of Windows then what you initially have. I would bet that the hard drive was formatted with an earlier version of DOS or Windows. This old format has an older version of,, and other hidden system files. Merely typing "sys c:" from the A: prompt does not work. You will get the error command interpreter is invalid, type its name and location.

I disagree partly with some of Bonger's answer, especially about reinstalling DOS. Regarding Leew's comment, I disagree with having to copy the config.sys, autoexec.bat, MTMCDAI.sys, and MSCDEX.EXE to the C: drive first. If you are trying to get a fresh new install of an operating system, the best thing to do is to backup any data and then make your computer start up completely from a bootable floppy with CDROM support without going to the hard drive. Then type "format c:/s" at the A: prompt and type "setup" at the D: prompt. Both my points are only valid if RickH is trying to do a completely fresh install.

Also, you should have,, and fdisk.exe on the bootable floppy to be safe.

Again, tell us what you have and what you want to do exactly, if you want the right answer.

Expert Comment

ID: 1759239
Once I did the same thing, I formatted my hard drive because everything was so screwed up.  Obviously the cd-rom driver was deleted, but I was still able to use it to reinstall my software.  Most likely, all the software you have is on CD.  Therefore you probably don't have any drivers on floppy disk.  What you need is a generic cd-rom driver to install to get you started.

Author Comment

ID: 1759240
OK, I've got enough info here to do the job. If leew would post an official answer I will grade the question.
Thanks to all for the good suggestions.
LVL 95

Accepted Solution

Lee W, MVP earned 120 total points
ID: 1759241

normally, I'd agree, wipe the hard disk and reinstall from the CD (for Win95 ANY version).  But 95, depending on you're hardware, may reboot and need to access the CD again before it's finished it's setup.  If this happens it won't work because it doesn't load real mode drivers and it hasn't booted up in the "normal" mode that uses the native 95 drivers.  The only way to prevent a possible problem is to put the CD-ROM driver, MSCDEX, CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT on the hard disk.


sorry if I wasn't clear on this, but that is what I was suggesting - copy the files for the CD-ROM, AUTOEXEC & CONFIG to the hard disk to prevent the error I mention above.  What I meant to suggest you do is this:

Have the disk that boots up with the CD-ROM in the drive and boot the computer.

Format the hard disk (no system is necessary)

copy the files to the hard disk as I explained before

change to the CD-ROM drive and run setup (off the win95 cd).

Everything should work fine and when it reboots, if for any reason, it needs to access the CD-ROM drive, it will be able to.

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