Autoexec.bat command-Win 98SE

I got I/O error  while booting and a message that auto exe file has  commands not compatible with WIN 98. When I reinstalled WIN 98, it worked for a day.Afterwards, entire partition and the files were lost. The hard disk is in good condition without any bad sectors.

What could be the reason? What are the preventive steps?

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The files are probably still on your hard drive, but the "index" to them has become corrupt so that they cannot be seen or accessed.

Certainly there are a number of viruses capable of this.

Can you see the C:\ Drive from DOS?

Boot to your Win98 boot floppy (keep the "write protect" tab closed to prevent writing to it) and try and change to your C:\ drive:

C:  <enter key>

If you get there, try changing directories:

CD  windows  <enter key>

Tell us what happens.

If you can't access it, type the command:

FDISK  <enter key>

Select Option 4. - Display partition information

You are looking for something like this:

Current fixed disk drive: 1

Partition  Status     Type          Volume Label              Mbytes       System          Usage
 C: 1          A           PRI DOS     whatever                   30               FAT32             100%

Total disk space is   ??? Mbytes (1 Mbyte = 1048576 bytes)

If you see that, then your "Primary DOS Partition" is OK and is "Active" (Status = A).
Press <Esc> key repeatedly to exit FDISK, then power off.

Let us know what it said.

If you were unable to access this at all, then you could try using the command:

FDISK  /MBR  <enter key>

This might restore your master Boot Record.

Norton AntiVirus is able to "innoculate" your boot sector from changes to it, and it will report any unexpected changes.  I don't know what would happen if something went wrong and it neither "asked you what to do", or "just informed you".  Perhaps it might leave it inaccessible.

If you CAN access your C:\drive from DOS after booting to your Win98 boot floppy, remove the floppy and insert a blank.  Issue the following command to copy autoexec.bat to the blank disk:

Copy C:\autoexec.bat  A:\autoexec.txt

If inspecting it on another computer, scan the floppy for viruses first!!

Paste the contents here.
You should be aware that a standard FORMAT of a hard drive will not always remove a persistent "Boot Sector Virus".  Most AntiVirus Suites have the default option of scanning Boot Files, Boot Record, and Memory at startup.

Using FDISK to wipe the entire partition structure of the drive, and then recreating it is usually effective.

If this has been a virus and your AntiVirus software "repairs" it, POWER OFF and leave it off for a few minutes.  Viruses can also remain in memory until all power drains from it.
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you say you reinstalled win98, I think if you back up and format the drive, it would be better.

rmsiyerAuthor Commented:
Thanks to BillDL & other experts who have provided valuable suggestions. I await further comments regarding the preventive steps.
I use adaware 6.1(standard edition) and latest antivirus provided by trend micro. None of them could locate any malware/virus.

Sadly, Samsung engineers in the helpline centre reformatted the hard disk while examining the drive. There is no way I could experiment with the detailed guidelines provided by Bill.

None the less, I am inclined to accept his comment. Prior to this, may I request Bill/other consultants  to  suggest  some preventive steps,if any.

Can I download any free software for increasing the operational efficiency of WIN98SE and keeping it in  fine fettle? If yes, please inform the details.

I find some software in the cnet and pc But, unable to decide their reliability.
Best Regards,
rmsiyerAuthor Commented:
I think this problem is not related to malware/virus. I was trying to install the advanced features like webcam,mobile features found in the yahoo messenger. Something might have  gone wrong which affected the auto exe files of  WIN98SE.  When the i/o error appeared, I tried to boot the system with the startup  disk.
Will be interested to know the reasons for this problem.
Thanks and regards,


I am a little puzzled by your use of the expressions "auto exe files" and "i/o error".  What exactly are you referring to when you use these expressions?

Can you recall in any detail what this "i/o error" actually said, and was this while still in the early black screen boot stages, or did it just get into windows and display it as a message box?

When you booted to the "startup disk" (I assume you mean a win 98 boot floppy created either during your original installation or at some later time), did you type any commands in DOS such as FORMAT, FDISK, or DELTREE?

I also assume that this was DEFINITELY a win98 boot floppy you used.

There are a couple of commands that I can think of that could have done such a drastic file deletion, but you would have to have known what to type in at the command prompt.

I have my doubts that "the advanced features like webcam, mobile features found in the yahoo messenger" could have obliterated so many folders and files at once, or deleted partition information.

It is really difficult to attempt to figure out where the damage began, or what caused it, after the event when there is nothing really to go on.

It is also, therefore, pretty impossible to provide methods of prevention for such catastrophic events, but I will prepare a list of general preventative measures to safeguard against some of the most usual problems, and some general contingency plans should this happen again.

Unfortunately in Windows, strange things happen when you least expect them.

What I can't understand is >>>"When I reinstalled WIN 98, it worked for a day.  Afterwards, entire partition and the files were lost".  <<<

This certainly points to hard drive failure, but could also be the fact that you couldn't "see" the data that could easily still have been on your drive.  As mentioned earlier, the Boot Sector or Master Boot Record could be damaged.  Hard Drive engineers won't take any time to try and recover any data, they will simply subject it to "Read/Write" tests and run a "low level format" on it.  This normally "zero fills" the drive, or completely removes the actual structure which is able to hold the "Filing System" (ie. FAT32 in your case).  It is then prepared again to allow a standard format.  This can sometimes repair a drive that would not be repairable by any other means, but if the actual surface of a drive has been damaged by the Read/Write heads hitting off it, then this is rarely successful.

So, you have your hard drive back now fully formatted and ready for a fresh installation and you are hoping that some utilities might prevent this again?

I will need to get back to you with my list, but I have to voice my personal opinion here, and many would disagree.  I prefer trying to use what tools are immediately available from Windows itself, or by installing extra's from the installation CD.  My reasons are simple:

1. If you use memory managers and your system crashes badly, sometimes you can't even get the memory manager to load, and this can be a nightmare.

2. Using 3rd-party partitioning software can confuse or obstruct procedures when you need to repair the master boot record or use FDISK.  Your system becomes dependent on their presence.

3. Windows own DEFRAG tool might be slow, but at least you know it works.  It's like "how did the Amazonian natives know that a particular plant was poisonous until they ate it".  Are you prepared to take somebody else's recommendation for a 3rd-party application that worked for THEM, but might wreck YOUR system?  I tried one well-quoted Defrag utility once which reorganised my data so well that Windows couldn't find it where it was expected.  Needless to say, I had to format and start over.

4. Running Registry Cleanup utilities without first testing them on a spare and dispensible machine with a similar setup could render your workhorse computer unbootable and in need of a full reinstallation.

5. Non-Native boot floppies may have a load of handy utilities on them, but without being acquainted thoroughly with the contents, you could carry out your own "low level format" before you realised.

6. You don't always get what you pay for.  Norton Utlities alone can cause no end of problems in certain circumstances and you can end up wasting more time trying to track down the problem and fix it, than it would have taken you to manually do the job using a Windows utility or process.  It's not that I don't think it is a great "suite" of utilities in one place, it's that I think the more recent editions don't like Windows 98.

7. I once used a utility to back up my CMOS (BIOS) data.  There was no indication anywhere in documentation or on the download site that it was a time-out shareware and, on the contrary, had a lot of good reports (For the full version!!).  In the comfortable knowledge that I could restore the data when changing by battery at a leisurely pace, I found that it didn't work.  I spent about an hour restoring the custom settings.  I could have written down the settings with a pencil and paper in 30 minutes beforehand had I known the likely outcome.

8. Other "file" backup utilities are great for backing things up, but are you sure that they will restore fully again.  I've seen some that restore everything in the DOS 8.3 file name format, and other ones that miss out duplicated file names.  My god, I've got 63 files named "URLs.txt" on one partition alone.  A bit stupid I suppose, but just an example.

As I said, I will try and get some time to take down a few notes for you and post them back here, but there is one thing you can do right now BEFORE reinstalling.

Create an extra partition on your main drive, copy the "win98" folder from your CD into it, and install from there after booting to your boot floppy.  Create a few other folders in there, and copy installation files for drivers and other essential software into them.  Install from there when the time comes.

This way, you can easily format your hard drive and then reinstall from the hard drive partition without hunting out your CD Rom's.  If system files become corrupted, then the System File Checker will look there instead of for the CD Drive.

It's easy enough to create the partition and you can always install initially from the CD in the first instance, copy the files into the partition using your newly installed Windows, and finally tell your registry to use the alternative "Install Source".

Change the StringValue "SourcePath" to reflect the "win98" folder on your partition instead of your CD's Drive letter.

To partition using Windows FDISK from DOS after booting to your boot floppy, here's a link for a zip file containing a single helpfile:

or, for an online FDISK Simulation:

OK, I'll take a look at the utilities I use, and some routines to adopt, and I'll get back to you.
rmsiyerAuthor Commented:
Dear Bill,

Many thanks again  for your  detailed comments.
Background information:
Mine is a p3 933 mhz intel cpu system.
3 months ago, my maxtor hard drive developed a smart error.
The brand new  samsung 40 gb puma drive (7200 rpm) simply froze whilst opening the documents after pressing the start icon. After replacing the hard disk  twice (samsung provided new drives immediately) , I installed a new asus mother board since the old board was showing cross linked files. The drive in question is a new drive(third one) provided by samsung.

For the last three months absolutely there were no problems.

A fortnight ago, I received "this program has performed an illegal operation whilst surfing with internet  explorer 5. I could not repair this with windows inbuilt repair utility.

Subsequently, i/o error appeared during the black screen stages.The system used to boot after pressing the enter button 1-2 times.

I installed yahoo messenger features but, aborted it due to poor internet speed.

The message"auto.exe commands not compatible with win 98" appeared when I attempted to repair the interenet explorer again.

The system could not boot after the i/o error during the black screen stages.

Service engineer rebooted the system with help disk.

The system booted but messages like bad command, etc ,appeared during the black screen stages. But, the system loaded windows on its own after this display.  

I wanted to save a word document. The save icon faded on its own when I clicked it. Microsoft has provided the most userfriendly OS. But, made millions of people solely dependent on the mouse and the click icons.

I reinstalled the windows again from the extra  folder in the d drive.

 It worked fine for a day. The next day, while opening the yahoo mail sign-in page, it hang.

I could not reboot the system. The rest is history.

Now,I have installed the  refurbished maxtor drive sent by the company since the old drive was under warranty.

Samsung has also sent the  drive with three partitions and a no error report. Not yet decided  whether I should copy all the files from the maxtor drive and reinstal it.

Badly bruised,still limping back to normalcy and awaiting your maintenance tips.

Thanks again and best regards,



rmsiyerAuthor Commented:
Dear Bill,

Since the system is working fine now, I would be more interested to  take a look at the utilities you use, and some routines to adopt which you have mentioned.

Sorry, rmsiyer.  I ended up a bit bogged down with a few computer problems of my own there for a couple of days.  It's not that I couldn't fix it, just lack of time.

I'll get back to you later tonight (UK time here) or tomorrow.
rmsiyerAuthor Commented:
Dear Bill,

I understand that you are tied up with other more important issues.
Just to remind that I am eagerly waiting for your troubleshooting tips and preventive steps mentioned in your mail.

If the windows fail to load, what should one do?
A step by step  method will be more helpful. Do you think win XP will replace win 98 as the standard OS soon?  
I am compiling a "tips" document right as we speak.

To address your specific question above,  if windows fails to boot fully or at all, here's the best advice:

During the early stages of booting, and usually a short while before the Windows logo normally appears, you should press the F8 key repeatedly until it arrives at an "Options Menu".  This will still be in the DOS black and white text-based display.

You can use the down arrow to highlight the boot option you want, and then press the <ENTER> key to execute the command, or press the corresponding number.  NOTE: your "NumLock" keypad numbers will probably not be enabled yet.

My suggestion is to first attempt to boot into "Safe Mode".  This mode loads very few components and drivers, and uses the Windows most basic display drivers to create a 640 x 480 display using less colours than you normally see.  The layout will be huge, and text can sometimes be a little difficult to see clearly, but Safe Mode does allow you to access many system functions which can correct issues.

This is where you should run any Virus Scans and Scandisk, because none of the "Startup" items, power saving modes, etc will be loaded.  The only problem is that you won't be able to access your CD Rom.

On many occasions, the act of simply booting into Safe Mode, shutting down normally, and then booting normally actually rectifies a boot problem.

The good new is that you can run the System File Checker Windows Utility in Safe Mode as long as you have the Windows .CAB files on your hard drive.  In fact this is the preferred mode to run this utility.  Start > Run > type SFC > "OK" starts it.  If you are aware of a particular error message informing you of a conflict with a named file, then you could opt to restore that file by specifying it, and then browsing to the location of your .CAB files.  Usually this is C:\windows\options\CABS, but you can obviously use Windows Explorer to locate it.

On other occasions, you might be advised to allow SFC to find and restore corrupt or missing files.  You should make the appropriate configuration in SFC to do a test run first, just to see what files it is likely to find and report.  SFC relies on a file (C:\windows\default.sfc) that stores all the file versions and compares them.  This often throws up a lot of erroneous reports, so you would then be advised to set SFC to "Prompt for backup".  This lets you evaluate each one reported and decide whether to have the existing file backed up and replaced.  If you were to just allow it to automatically fix everything, then it would probably be just as easy and a better solution to shut down, boot to your Windows 98 Boot floppy (specifying "use CD Rom Support"), and then reinstall Windows right on top of itself.

MSCONFIG.EXE will be available from the Start > Run option in Safe Mode and will allow you to uncheck all unnecessary "startup" options to see if one of them is the problem.

The DOS Boot menu (F8) has other options that can be a great help in diagnosing why your system failed to boot.  The option I am referring to is "LOGGED".  This creates the file C:\bootlog.txt and does so regardless of how far the boot process reaches.

If you still can't boot, you can copy the file out to a floppy after booting to your Win98 boot floppy (remove the floppy after it has got to the A:\> prompt) and giving the following commands:

ATTRIB  -h  c:\bootlog.txt
COPY  c:\bootlog.txt  a:\bootlog.txt
ATTRIB  +h  c:\bootlog.txt

The ATTRIB  -h  and +h is simply removing the "Hidden" attribute to allow DOS to copy it, and then restores it again.

Once you have this file on floppy, you can open it in WordPad or Word, and use the "Find Text" option on a functional PC to find instances of the text  "fail"  (non-case-sensitive).  This can be a valuable clue as to where the process is failing.

If you have had to boot to a Win98 boot floppy, you can also use the following commands depending on what the problem tends to hint at:


Usage: SCANREG [/<option>]

  ?          : Displays usage.
  BACKUP     : Backup the registry and related system configuration files.
  RESTORE    : Choose a backup to restore (.CAB file from a list of 5).
  FIX        : Repair the registry.
             : Adds the specified comment to the CAB file while backing up.

You couls also use the EDIT command to view and make changes to files such as c:\AUTOEXEC.BAT, CONFIG.SYS, SYSTEM.INI, WIN.INI, etc.

gererally, the letters "REM" (without the "") placed before a line of text in a .BAT file will cause that line to be ignored ("remarked out"), whereas a semicolon tends to be preferred for .INI files.

eg. a hypothetical autoexec.bat file:

mode con codepage prepare=((850) C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND\ega.cpi)
mode con codepage select=850
keyb uk,,C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND\keyboard.sys
rem start C:\windows\system\nastyvirusfile.exe /infect

or a hypothetical SYSTEM.INI entry can be changed or, as I have done below, made a copy of the original, remarked it out, and then created the correct one:

; shell=NastyHijackShell.exe
drivers=mmsystem.dll power.drv

Of course, these are ridiculous examples, but I am just demonstrating that it is usually better to remark something out first, and then test, rather than deleting an entry.

Again, if you are still in DOS from the boot floppy, you can use the FDISK command on its own and then choose the option to "View" the details of your partitions.

In extreme cases, you can also use the command  FDISK  /MBR  to recreate the "Master Boot Record" of your hard drive.  This can be problematic if there are boot managers, you are dual-booting to a choice of operating systems, you have an older Compaq machine with a special partition, or you have used other partition creation/management utilities.

I hope this helps a bit in the meantime.

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Oh, I meant to say:

Yes, Windows XP is fast becoming the "standard".  In fact, it's probably already there and we are the dinosaurs :-)

There have been so many new computers sold in the last 2 years to first-time computer buyers (eg. joint Christmas present for all the family) with Windows XP Home preinstalled, that I believe existing 98 users may now be outnumbered.

Windows XP is touted to be more stable than 98.  In some ways I disagree with this, depending on how much care you have taken over things you have installed, etc.  XP can restrict users from tampering with system files and such, and has its System Restore when things go wrong, but it isn't the holy grail.  Windows 98 has been around for so much longer that there are a lot more people out there who know it intimately.  XP isn't as easy to fix when all these "restore" attempts don't work.

It is also a lot more susceptible to security isses.  I ran the Windows Update even after installing the Service Pack 1, and it suggested 48 recommended updates.  So much for making it user friendly to first time users.

That said, however, it handles usb impeccably, has built-in picture viewing, and a lot more gizmo's like Movie Maker to appeal to families and advanced users alike.

I'm in the process of delving into XP's inner workings and may be tempted to stray into that Experts Exchange Topic Area pretty soon  :-)
rmsiyerAuthor Commented:
Dear Bill,

I have closed this question.Eagerly awaiting your final tips.
rmsiyerAuthor Commented:
Dear Bill,

Though I closed the question on 20 Nov. 03, I have not yet received your valuable "tips document" mentioned in your reply dtd 11 Nov. 03.
Can you please expedite the same?
Thanks and best regards,


rmsiyerAuthor Commented:
Dear Bill,
There is no reply to my comment dated 1/13/04. Have you also discarded win 98 with microsoft?
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