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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | Hard Disk Drives | Hard Disk Logical Structures and File Systems | Disk Partitioning and Formatting Programs ]


The operating system files that allow a hard disk to be booted are normally placed at the front of the disk at the time that the boot volume is high-level formatted, using the FORMAT command with the /S parameter. It is also possible, however, to "convert" an existing disk so that it is bootable, by using the SYS command. SYS copies the operating system files from the volume that the system was booted with (hard disk or floppy) to the target volume. SYS is, essentially, the "/S" parameter of the FORMAT command, without the rest of the FORMAT command itself--it only moves the system files, and doesn't erase the target disk. Note that it only copies the very basic startup files, either for DOS or the DOS that underlies Windows. It will not copy an entire Windows installation, for example!

Today, SYS is rarely used for hard disks. Its most common use is to create bootable floppy disks from non-bootable floppy disks. It is also sometimes used to upgrade DOS versions on hard disks of older machines; you boot the floppy of the new DOS version and then SYS the new operating system files to the hard disk. Again, modern operating systems take care of this sort of work internally, and don't require this sort of manual operation.

Tip: You can make a bootable floppy from within Windows as well, so you don't really need SYS for this either. Just open the Control Panel, double-click "Add/Remove Programs" and then click the "Startup Disk" tab for instructions.

Next: Partition Management Utilities (Partition Magic, etc.)

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