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Part: V Appendixes > DOS Startup Control Keys

DOS Startup Control Keys

When you start your computer and the Starting MS-DOS... message appears onscreen, you have about five seconds to press a few special keys to bypass some or all of the commands in your CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files. These keys are available only in MS-DOS 6.0 and later:

  • F5 (Clean Boot). MS-DOS performs a minimal startup, ignoring any CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files in the root directory of the startup drive. DBLSPACE.BIN is still loaded into memory if your system uses compressed drives.

  • Ctrl+F5 (Clean Boot). Just like F5, except DBLSPACE.BIN is not loaded into memory. Any compressed drives are inaccessible.

  • F8 (Interactive Boot). MS-DOS prompts you for every line in your CONFIG.SYS file, enabling you to selectively execute or skip each line. To execute the remaining commands without being prompted, press the Esc key. When the CONFIG.SYS file is complete, DOS asks whether you want to execute your AUTOEXEC.BAT file.

    Note that DBLSPACE.BIN is still loaded into memory if your system uses compressed drives. With F8 (Interactive Boot), you cannot choose whether to load DBLSPACE.BIN into memory.

    For MS-DOS 6.2, Microsoft has changed the behavior of the F8 key, and you are now prompted for each line in your AUTOEXEC.BAT file as well as in your CONFIG.SYS file. To stop being prompted for each line, press the Esc key to execute or press the F5 key to bypass all the remaining lines in your startup files.

  • Ctrl+F8 (Interactive Boot). This is just like the F8 boot, except DBLSPACE.BIN is not loaded into memory. Any compressed drives are inaccessible.


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