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My CD-ROM drive works in Windows 95 but I can't access it when I restart in MS-DOS mode
Explanation: You installed Windows 95 and the CD-ROM works properly within the graphical interface. When you reboot into DOS mode however, your CD-ROM is not accessible, making it impossible for you to use programs such as DOS-based CD-ROM games.
Diagnosis: Windows 95 uses its own driver and file system extension (equivalent of MSCDEX) to allow access to the CD-ROM drive when you are within that operating system. When you "Restart the computer in MS-DOS mode", as Microsoft euphemistically puts it, you are just shutting down Windows 95 and staying in the DOS 7 environment that underlies it. This unloads the Windows 95 CD-ROM driver, so you won't be able to access the CD-ROM drive unless you have a real-mode DOS driver and DOS MSCDEX loaded. The CD-ROM driver must be loaded when the PC starts. MSCDEX can be loaded at any time.
Warning: On some systems,
loading the CD-ROM driver in CONFIG.SYS can cause conflicts with other IDE devices. If you
experience this sort of problem you will not be able to load the CD-ROM driver within
CONFIG.SYS and you will have to use a custom boot environment (see below) to use the
CD-ROM under DOS.
Recommendation: There are two possible ways to set things up so the CD-ROM is visible in DOS. One is to load the driver at boot time and then load MSCDEX when you shut down Windows. The other is to set up a custom boot configuration for your DOS programs that will boot up with a different CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT file when you want to use your programs, and then restore the "regular" Windows 95 system files when you are done. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.
Note: If when you restart
in DOS mode you see the system try to execute MSCDEX but it produces an error message
about not being able to find a CD-ROM driver and you can't access the CD-ROM drive, this
means that you have half of what you need set up: MSCDEX is being loaded from
DOSSTART.BAT, but the actual CD-ROM driver is missing or commented out in CONFIG.SYS.