Essential utilities

The contents of your software toolkit depend greatly on how many PCs you maintain, which operating systems they run, and similar factors, but a good basic assortment includes the following essential utilities:

DOS boot diskette

Even if all your computers run Windows or Linux, the most important item in your software toolkit is a DOS boot diskette with drivers for the CD-ROM drive. When the PC won’t boot, this diskette allows you to install or run diagnostic and repair utilities from a CD. Without it, you may be stymied because you can’t access the CD-ROM drive, even to do something as basic as reinstalling the operating system. That’s true even if your system allows booting from the CD-ROM drive because not all CDs are bootable. The Windows 9X startup disk described in the following note fulfills this purpose. If you run only Windows NT/2K/XP or Linux, borrow someone’s Windows 9X computer long enough to make a DOS startup diskette.

To create the Windows 95/98/Me startup diskette, open the Control Panel and double-click Add/Remove Programs. Display the Startup Disk page and click the Create Disk icon to create a startup disk. This diskette is bootable and contains the drivers needed to access most IDE CD-ROM drives. You can use a Startup Disk created on any computer to start any other computer. Floppy diskettes have a way of getting lost or damaged, and you can’t get far if you can’t boot a problem PC, so we generally keep several copies of the Windows 98 SE ...

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