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8/5/2003
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Fred Langa
Fred Langa
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The Explorer: Save Your Butt With DOS: Pulling It All Together

Here's how you can build your own batch files -- or alter those of others

We're almost to the end of our "Save Your Butt With DOS" series, which was occasioned by the release of Windows Millennium Edition. You see, in WinME, Microsoft has hidden access to DOS and made it difficult to create a useful bootable floppy disk.

As Microsoft is doing its best to shield utter newbies from DOS, it's making life harder for the rest of us. Without easy access to DOS, some types of low-level, powerful disk diagnostic and repair operations become much more difficult. Of course, Windows 2000 goes even further, by design; it has no component that we would normally refer to as standalone DOS.

The "Save Your Butt With DOS" series was and is designed to help you create a DOS-based maintenance/repair/recovery toolkit you could stick on a shelf against future need; a toolkit that can help you get yourself out of system trouble even if you can't run Windows itself, or if you end up in a DOS-free version of Windows.

Part of a good DOS toolkit includes utilities in the form of "batch files," which are simple text files that contain a series, or "batch," of DOS commands. You can think of batch files as a form of scripting that can greatly simplify low-level system maintenance tasks. Knowing how to cobble together a simple batch file is a very handy skill, and so, as a starting point for our discussion of batch files, I offered a simple batch file called Cleanup.Bat.

Cleanup.Bat was just intended to show how an extremely simple batch file could perform a very useful task -- in this case, cleaning up anywhere from (typically) tens to thousands of megabytes of junk files that can accumulate on your system, beyond the reach of Windows' own cleanup tools. But even in its basic form, Cleanup.bat was a huge hit. So big, in fact, it demanded a detour in our planned coverage of batch files, temporarily shifting to focus on batch file and other disk cleanup techniques. Scrub Your Hard Disk Clean, Part I was the first such column. Scrub Your Hard Disk Clean, Part II extended and expanded on the concepts in that first column.

Now, in this next-to-last column on using DOS in an increasingly DOS-free world, we'll show you how you can build your own batch files -- or alter those of others!

(Note: If you already know the DOS batch language well, you may wish to skip ahead to the references at then of this article: There's good stuff there even for batch experts!)

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