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Old School - Win 3.11 Not Booting

Posted on 2014-10-01
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Last Modified: 2014-10-01
Hello,
      We have a machine tool that had a hard drive failure. It is an older machine and it was running Windows 3.11. Before the drive failed totally I had xcopied the entire drive to a folder on my pc. I found the same drive on ebay so I copied all those files onto the new drive but the drive will not boot. I ran fdisk /mbr and still no go. Any help with this would be appreciated.

Thank you
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Question by:daskas27
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Expert Comment

by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 40355401
A system of that age requires you to enter the disk parameters in the BIOS before it will work properly.  Did you format the disk for FAT16?  I don't think it uses the 'mbr' that is found in Windows 95 and newer.  DOS 6.22 and Windows 3.1 only support hard drive size of 2 GB.   It also has to boot into DOS before you can run Windows 3.11.
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Expert Comment

by:Matthew Borrusso
ID: 40355411
Lets start with the basics.

1. does the machine recognize the hard drive in the bios? it could be something like a jumper on the drive to determine its position in the IDE chain. SCSI is a different story, but similar. Assuming it is set properly, does the machine recognize the drive?

2. if the machine recognizes it, is it a straight swap (drive size, speed, type (more concerned about the size, as older machines had strict limitations to the drive capacity allowed.

3. assuming all is in order, do you have or can you get a hold of all the old MSdos 7 floppys. you may want to just get your DOS up and running, IE format the drive, mark it as active, etc. if you did a format and just a copy, you need to make sure the partition is marked as active.

4. if you get does booted, then by rights you should be able to transfer the files over. in 3.x, dos calls windows in the autoexec.bat. Then windows usually calls the driver files for video (if applicable).

Your method should work, I am really leaning toward that the drive is not being seen by the machine correctly, or the partition may not be marked active.

Last but not least, you may want to consider a different Bare metal restore process, or hardware.. That hardware will not last forever. I don't know if virtualization is an option for this setup, or converting the app to a Linux, or running it in emulation/ NTVDM on a newer machines.

Let me know how you make out.
Matt
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Author Comment

by:daskas27
ID: 40355414
Hello,
Yes, I formatted it FAT at 1.9GB. The bios sees it and I can access files on it from the machine by booting to a DOS floppy. I can call up the C: drive and get Windows to start by going to c:\windows\win. The thing will not boot.
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Author Comment

by:daskas27
ID: 40355424
Matt, The bios sees it and I can access files. It is not as simple as just formatting and reloading. That would be great but this drive has programs loaded specific to this machine tool with parameters and such to consider.
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Expert Comment

by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 40355478
Here's the Microsoft page on the subject: http://support2.microsoft.com/kb/255867
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Expert Comment

by:dbrunton
ID: 40355491
>>  The thing will not boot.

When you xcopied it did you copy the hidden files?  To boot you need IO.SYS and MSDOS.SYS at the beginning of the disk.  Both of these are hidden files and normally xcopy won't see them.

Have another look at the disk and see if those two files are there.  If they aren't, then that is the reason the disk isn't booting.
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Author Comment

by:daskas27
ID: 40355541
Yes, the files are there. here are the switches I used when copying:

xcopy e:\ /s /c /d /e /h /i /r /y c:\ed
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 40355569
Install the OS (probably DOS 6.22) on that disk using the floppies you have. Then you can copy the rest back. Just copying the files doesn't make the system bootable, the OS must either be installed, or the disk cloned.
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Assisted Solution

by:Matthew Borrusso
Matthew Borrusso earned 167 total points
ID: 40355582
I agree with the expert, backup the drive and install DOS over the top. I am surprised that it will not boot. if all the files are there, and the partition is marked as active, it should boot by rights.
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dbrunton earned 167 total points
ID: 40355586
OK.  Boot to floppy and then try

dir c:\ /ah

and report back the first two files it finds.

Also try fdisk and let's see if the first partition is set active.  That was suggested earlier and I don't think you reported back on that.
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Expert Comment

by:Daniel Van Der Werken
ID: 40355601
Can we see  your CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT file contents?
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Expert Comment

by:it_saige
ID: 40355606
Ofcourse (recalling my DOS commands), if after you boot from a floppy, you could always just use sys a: c:...  ;)

That is if it is just a simple matter of the hard disk not allowing you to boot.

-saige-
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Author Comment

by:daskas27
ID: 40355609
dir c:\ /ah returned the first two files;
IO.sys
msdos.sys

how do use fdisk to check if the partition is active?
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Assisted Solution

by:it_saige
it_saige earned 166 total points
ID: 40355612
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Expert Comment

by:Daniel Van Der Werken
ID: 40355639
Here is some information about performing a clean boot that might help. I can't find anything specific to MS-DOS, this is for Windows 95.

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/192926

I don't think it will solve your issue directly, but it will help.
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Author Closing Comment

by:daskas27
ID: 40355640
Thanks again
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