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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
CD-ROM Drivers

Last updated: 5/2//07

Q. I reformatted my hard disk drive and now I cannot access my CD-ROM with my Startup floppy to install Windows.  What do I do now?

A.  Well, you may be in for some noticeable work. For other readers… always back-up the config.sys, autoexec.bat, C:\windows\command\mscdex.exe (if you don’t have it on the boot floppy) and CD-ROM drivers, etc. before formatting a hard disk drive. I also look at both the autoexec.bat and config.sys files and consider installed hardware before scrubbing a drive, and I usually back-up the drive.

You are probably going to have configure your boot floppy to load the correct CD-ROM driver. First, you need to find the driver. Some of the floppies also have mscdex.exe although the program belongs to Microsoft. See if you/she has the CD-ROM floppy with the driver. Most of those floppies have instructions for manually editing the config.sys and autoexec.bat files. Both files have a line that is required to run the CD-ROM. The config.sys file loads the driver and the autoexec.bat file loads mscdex.exe. The lines look something like this, but can vary depending on the CD-ROM drive:
config.sys
device=cdrom.sys /D:mscd001
autoexce.bat
a:\MSCDEX.EXE /D:mscd001
"mscd001" can vary but must be the same in both files. The name of the driver, "cdrom.sys" in this case, can vary and depends on the drive. There may be additional flags, but these lines will work in most cases. The autoexec.bat line assumes mscdex is present in the root directory of the floppy, but it can be elsewhere.

So, you can’t find the floppy… Then you must determine the make and manufacturer of the drive. In most cases that requires removing the drive from the case. If you are lucky you will be able to determine that info easily. But when one forgets to back-up the driver, one is not usually lucky. Many times a CD-ROM is made by one company and labeled differently by the company that uses the drive to build a computer (e.g., Packard Bell). Steps to find the driver:
1) Search for the manufacturer on Google
2) Search Google with the info (usually the Model number) on the drive.
3) Look in one of the drivers web sites (see our links page)
4) Find the manufacture with the FCC number (see How to Indentify a Motherboard).

And there is the case, with older machines, where you have and old, non-IDE CD-ROM which is attached to the sound card. In those cases (and others), I usually install one of my shop CD-ROM’s temporarily to install Windows. Also, see How to Install a CD-ROM.

FAQs: CD-ROM, CD-RW, and DVD Drives Index

Copyright, Disclaimer, and Trademark Information Copyright © 1996-2006 Larry F. Byard.  All rights reserved. This material or parts thereof may not be copied, published, put on the Internet, rewritten, or redistributed without explicit, written permission from the author.