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How to Copy the Windows Cab Files to a Hard Disk
Last updated: 1/21/2000

Are you tired of the inconvenience of frequently having to fetch and insert your Windows CD when you install new hardware or software?  Suppose you are on the road with your notebook, you want to install something new, but you left your Windows CD behind in the office?  Or, you want to run two computers in different locations at different times...?   Well, here's how to put all of those files on your hard disk and tell Windows to look for them there instead of on the CD.

Almost all of the Windows files of import are located in compressed files called cabs on the Windows CD in the D:\win95 or D:\win98 directory, depending on your version of Windows, where D: is your CD-ROM.  These files take up about 90 to 110 MBytes.  So you will need at least that much free space on your hard disk to copy them there.  This is usually not a problem on recent computers with large hard disk drives.

Most computer are sold with the hard disk partitioned into a single drive, drive C:  For hard disks with a capacity of 6.4 GBytes or greater, the hard disk should have been partitioned into two or more logical drives, C:, D:, etc., for greater efficiency.  I usually "part" them into two drives.  (See How to Install the Windows 98 Upgrade on a New Hard Disk Drive and How to Build Your Own Athlon Computer for details on parting a hard disk drive.)  Obviously, if you only have a C: drive than that is where you will copy the cab files.  The convention used by the Windows OEM preinstall software and by most shops is to put the files in the following directory (folder):  C:\WINDOWS\OPTIONS\CABS.  If your hard disk is partitioned into a smaller lean and mean C: and a large D: drive, then I would suggest putting them on the D: drive.  It makes no sense to defragging the cab files every time you defrag C:  If put them on the D: drive, I would suggest breaking the convention and putting the cab files in a directory similar to the one from whence they came; i.e., D:\WIN98 or D:\WIN95, where D: is a logical hard disk (partition with a letter assigned) and not your CD-ROM.  I will assume that you have only a C: drive in the remainder of this article.  I will also assume we are dealing with the first release Windows 98 (the procedure is similar for Windows 95 and Windows 98 SE).

  Make a directory (folder) on the hard disk for the cab files.  Open the Windows Explorer and Select (click-on to highlight) the C: \windows directory (Windows folder), Click Files, New,  Folder and edit the folder name to "options."  In the left Explorer window pane, highlight the options folder, make another new folder within the options folder and edit the name to "cabs".

  Select the cab files on the CD-ROM.  In the Windows Explorer click on the plus sign to the left of the CD-ROM drive in the left window pane and then click on the win98 folder to display the files in that folder in the right window pane.  While holding the Shift key, click on the first file (not folder; we don't want to copy the folders in the win98 folder, just the files) in the win98 folder.  Continue holding the Shift key and scroll to and click on the last file in the win98 folder.  This action should highlight (select) all of the files in the folder (and not the folders), most of which are CAB files (you need all of them).

  Copy the files.  Click on the Copy Icon in the Toolbar of the Windows Explorer, click on the C:\windows\options\cabs folder to highlight (select) it, and click on the Paste icon in the Toolbar to copy the files from the CD to the C; drive.  You should see a "Copying..." window open and a bunch of files being copied.

You can also copy the files by placing the cursor over the highlighted files, clicking the right mouse button, selecting Copy from the resulting pop-up menu, right clicking the C:\windows\options\cabs folder and selecting Paste from the pop-up menu.

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