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Install MS-DOS 7.10 on a Window XP or 2000 that uses NTFS

Last reviewed: September 2008

On this page:
• About adding MS-DOS 7.10 to a Windows XP or 2000 that uses NTFS
• Preparation: Dual-Boot MS-DOS 7.10 on a Windows XP or 2000 that uses NTFS
• Summary of procedure
• Procedure: Installing MS-DOS on a Windows XP or 2000 that's using NTFS
• How to return to your original Windows-only system
• Boot Disks & your own Rescue Boot Disk

About adding MS-DOS 7.10 (FAT or FAT32) to a Windows XP or 2000 that uses NTFS

You can install MS-DOS on a computer with Windows XP/2000 using NTFS already installed so you can select either MS-DOS or Windows XP/2000 on startup (a dual-boot is created). There should be no loss of data and no commercial utilities are required.

However, you must create a new Primary partition (drive) at the end of the NTFS partition(s) for the MS-DOS installation. If you don't have Unallocated free space at the end of the hard disk, you can resize (smaller) the existing partition with the free and excellent EASEUS Partition Manager Home Edition (8 MB, 32-bit Windows 2000/XP/Vista). Just as good is the free GParted (all Windows) on the GParted Live CD (90 MB) or on Ubuntu Live CD (700 MB). The most used commercial partition manager is PartitionMagic.

MS-DOS must be installed on a Primary FAT32/FAT partition on the first hard disk (seen as Disk0 at boot time).

You must not use this page if your current Windows uses the FAT32 file system. Use the instructions in Install MS-DOS on a Window NT that uses FAT32 - there are substantial differences in the procedures.

This page will use the MS-DOS version 7.10 used by Windows 98SE. The single hard disk used in testing was a 40 GB Western Digital all of which was used by Windows on a single NTFS partition. The Windows systems used were Windows XP Professional (SP2) and Windows XP Home Edition (version 2002, SP1) and Windows 2000 (5.00.2195, SP5).

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Preparation: Dual-Boot MS-DOS 7.10 on a Windows NT that uses NTFS

  1. It's routine to backup important data first.
  2. Download a partition manager that allows resizing of a partition (read above).
  3. Read Create a new BOOTSECT.DOS and download THPC's (7 KB). Extract its three files (18 KB) to a Windows 98/98SE Startup Disk. (6 KB) must always be added to this floppy (same version please!).

    If using an ordinary MS-DOS boot floppy/CD, the following files must be on the floppy:
    attrib.exe (15 KB), (6 KB), debug.exe (21 KB), (19 KB)

    If you don't have a floppy drive, you can use a bootable CD created from an ISO or IMA image of MS-DOS using a utility like CDBurnerXP (free) or Nero. There's plenty of MS-DOS images available free on the Web. Before you create the bootable CD, make sure the ISO file contains the three Btsect25 files, and also Attrib, Choice, Debug, Sys (the free WinImage, and similar utilities, allow you to add files to an .IMA image). Incidentally, in this dual-boot creation, do not allow a MS-DOS installation to write to the MBR (Master Boot Record).

    Booting MS-DOS from a USB flash drive is still a hit-or-miss affair. However, you might like to Google with 'boot usb flash pen stick drive' or have a look at How To Boot From A USB Flash Drive at
  4. This might be a good time to run Disk Defragmenter, and run Chkdsk /F from a Command Prompt. Allow plenty of time!
  5. Disable Virtual Memory (C:\pagefile.sys) ---> Start > Settings > Control Panel > System > Advanced tab > Settings button (in Performance) > Advanced tab > Change button (in Virtual Memory) > Select "No paging file", press the Set button, press OK.
    Disable Hibernation (C:\hiberfil.sys) if it's in use ---> Power Options in Control Panel > Hibernate tab > uncheck Enable hibernation and click OK.
    i.e. remove those two unmovable hidden files that may prevent resizing of the hard disk.

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Summary of procedure (Advanced users)

  1. Create a Primary partition at end of hard disk and use MS-DOS to format it with FAT32 or FAT.
  2. Boot from Win98/SE boot floppy/CD and run btsect (get - press Y for SYS C: option.
    (MS-DOS boot sector will be written to new Primary partition and copied there as a Bootsect.dos file).
  3. Reboot to Windows XP/2K and copy Bootsect.dos to root of Active NTFS Partition.
    Add C:\bootsect.dos=" MS-DOS 7.10 " under [operating systems] section of Boot.ini.
  4. Reboot and test the dual-boot.
  5. Boot to 'MS-DOS 7.10' and install the full MS-DOS 7.10 on your new Primary partition.

    Recreate Bootsect.dos if you alter disk geometry again.

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Procedure: Installing MS-DOS on a Windows XP or 2000 that's using NTFS

Reboots are important. Please follow on-screen instructions.

  1. Prepare (read above)
  2. Create Unallocated free space at end of hard disk for MS-DOS (read above)
        Create less than 2048 MB Unallocated if you need MS-DOS on FAT
    Reboot to Windows when finished, let Chkdsk finish and reboot again if requested.
  3. Boot from Win98/SE boot floppy/CD. No FAT/FAT32 drive exists, so ignore the caution.
    Run Fdisk.
        Press Y for enable large disk support if you intend using FAT32; otherwise N.
        Press Y for should NTFS partitions on all drives be treated as large (if it appears).
        Select 1 and create a Primary partition.
        Press ESC until exited from Fdisk.
  4. Reboot from Win98/SE boot floppy/CD. Type:
    Format C:
        Give it a doss label.

    Finalise all previous items before the executing next part.

    At the A:\> prompt, type
    and press Y for the SYS C: option when it appears.
        (MS-DOS boot sector will be written to new Primary and copied there as a Bootsect.dos file - 512 bytes
        and the MS-DOS files, Drvspace.bin, Io.sys, and Msdos.sys are also copied there).
    Remove floppy/CD when finished.
  5. Reboot. Only Windows XP boots at this stage.
        Let Chkdsk finish plus its reboot, and then reboot again after bootup if requested.
    Copy Bootsect.dos from the new FAT32/FAT drive to root of the C: drive.
    Edit Boot.ini (it's a Read-only, Hidden, file on root of C:) - you can read How to Edit Boot.ini
        Add the following line to the end of the [operating systems] section
        C:\BOOTSECT.DOS=" MS-DOS 7.10 "
        and, optionally, change the timeout under [boot loader] to timeout=10 (that's 10 seconds).
        Save Boot.ini back to C:
    Reset Virtual Memory and Hibernation if you disabled them earlier.

Finished! You now have a boot menu containing both operating systems.

Boot to 'MS-DOS 7.10' and install your full MS-DOS 7.10. Installing or re-installing MS-DOS from DOS at this stage will not rewrite the boot sector of the NTFS partition which is recognised by MS-DOS 7.10 but is then totally ignored.

* You must recreate and copy Bootsect.dos again if the hard disk geometry is altered again.

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How to return to your original Windows-only system

Remove the C:\bootsect.dos=" MS-DOS 7.10 " line from Boot.ini.

The only substantial change to your computer system has been the resizing and creation of the partition(s). The end of the disk is the safest area for such operations. Whenever you wish, you can reformat the MS-DOS partition with NTFS, or delete it and then resize the Windows partition to include that space.

To Format or Delete a partition, use Disk Administrator (Windows NT) or Disk Management (Windows XP/2000).
Use your own partition management utility to Resize (larger) a partition.

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NEVER dual-boot without your personal safety net - a BOOT DISK for XP/2K/NT.
If stuck, use a Win9x Startup Disk (CD support), and run WINNT.EXE from I386 folder on CD.

If you don't have a floppy drive, you should investigate how to create a bootable CD from a floppy disk image.

RESCUE BOOT DISK for when XP, 2K, NT will not boot - ESSENTIAL, 1 floppy
   Create a bootable floppy to get XP/2K/NT running even if the boot record,
   or boot files, are ever a problem. Write-protect and keep it safe.
      Format a floppy with that XP, 2K, or NT. It must be a full XP/2K/NT format.
      Alter file Attributes (Attrib -r -s -h) of these files in root of C: (PC system partition)
      Boot.ini, NTLDR,, and Bootsect.dos & Ntbootdd.sys (if present)
      (plus Arcldr.exe & Arcsetup.exe - for Windows 2K) and copy them to the floppy.
      Write-protect the floppy. Then restore original Attributes to the files on C:.
      Read the Rescue Boot Disk page for fuller details, plus a much improved Rescue disk.
Use the CD: If you have a Bootable installation CD you should check if your BIOS
   supports booting from it. This is hugely convenient, but still make the floppy.
ERD XP, 2K, NT: Emergency Repair Disk - repair key Registry entries and partition geometry
2K/NT Setup Boot Disks: (4 floppies for 2K, or 3 for NT)
   Use WINNT32 and MAKEBT32 from 2K/NT (\Boot disk folder on CD).
   Use WINNT and MAKEBOOT from a non-2K/NT system (such as Win9x).
XP Setup Boot Disks: (6 floppies)
   Read the Microsoft page How to obtain Windows XP Setup boot disks.
   It provides free downloads that create setup boot floppies for all versions of Windows XP.
   Each download is specific to each XP version (Home/Pro; original/SP1/SP2).
Win9x/Me Startup Disk:
   (95+) From a Windows: Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs > Startup Disk tab.
   (98+) From true MS-DOS: Go to the Command folder in Windows, and type Bootdisk.
   Windows 95 Startup Disks do not have CD support (add your CD-ROM driver).
   You can download free Win9x/Me boot disks from (IDE CDrom Drivers Included).

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Please remember that you alone are responsible for the consequences of any changes you make to your computer hardware or software.

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