Installing Windows 95 requires a clean startup. We want as few programs or devices using conventional memory as possible, and we do not want any memory manager programs like EMM386.EXE loading. All we really want is HIMEM.SYS (to enable extended memory; memory above the 640K conventional memory), and MSCDEX.EXE and our CD-ROM driver. It is a good idea to use a boot disk, preferable a Windows 95 Startup Disk. To make a Windows 95 startup disk go to Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel and click the Startup Disk tab and create the disk. Whatever you choose for a boot disk, you will have to create (if not already present) an AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS file and edit them to include lines for CD-ROM support. You can use Notepad for this or the MSDOS Editor.
A Typical CONFIG.SYS file, for a boot disk to install Windows 95:
A Typical AUTOEXEC.BAT file, for a boot disk to install Windows 95:
If you do not have a real mode CD-ROM driver, or are not inclined to edit these configurations yourself, I have made a .ZIP file that you can unzip to a bootable disk and then if you boot with the disk, you will have CD-ROM support. I encourage you to use a Win95 Startup Disk, but if this is unavailable any bootable disk from your Windows 9x operating system will do. The AUTOEXEC.BAT file that will be on your boot disk (after unzipping the file bootdisk.zip to your bootable disk) has a batch script that will look for and attempt to copy HIMEM.SYS from your Windows directory to the boot disk. You will be prompted if this is the case.
After downloading this file, read the README.TXT file for complete instructions. Please note that while I have done my best here, I cannot be held responsible for whether or not this works for you, or for damages that may be incurred from its incorrect use. Please note that this will only work for IDE CD-ROM drives, and NOT for SCSI drives. If your drive is SCSI or requires proprietary drivers please contact the manufacturer (perhaps they have a website?) for the appropriate files (or see if you have a disk somewhere).
Click Here to download bootdisk.zip (22 Kb)
If You Are Running Windows 98
Thankfully, the Windows 98 Startup disk already has CD-ROM support for IDE and SCSI CD-ROM drives. Create a Windows 98 Startup Disk by double clicking Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel and clicking the Startup Disk tab and create the disk. Boot with the disk and select the option to enable CD-ROM support. Test your disk to make sure you can access the CD-ROM drive before you do anything drastic like formatting the drive. (change to your CD-ROM drive and make sure you can list directories and maybe open a readme file and if all that checks out you are safe.)
If You Need CD-ROM Support for Games
If you want to use the CD-ROM drive in DOS because you want to play games, or for any other reason than installing windows, it would be best to set this up on the hard drive. You can rename your old AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS files to AUTOEXEC.BAK and CONFIG.BAK and create new ones for when you want to boot to DOS command prompt only. You can then rename your old ones back before you boot into Windows again. For this usage, the configuration files will contain more commands than the example above for installing windows. In the following examples it is important to note that you will have to edit the lines to suit your own system. I have no way of knowing what hardware you have and where you keep your driver files. As for Sound Card drivers in DOS you pretty much need to have a driver disk (or a downloaded driver package) with a setup program that will install the driver files and edit your configuration files for you, unless you know the hardware settings.
Here is a typical CONFIG.SYS file:
Here is a typical AUTOEXEC.BAT file:
SET BLASTER=A220 I10 D0 H5 P330 T6
SET MIDI=SYNTH:1 MAP:E
C:\SB16\MIXERSET /P /Q
LOADHIGH C:\CD-ROM\MSCDEX.EXE /D:IDECD001
Note the usage of the DEVICEHIGH command in CONFIG.SYS and the LOADHIGH command (can be abbreviated to LH) in the AUTOEXEC.BAT file. Because we loaded EMM386.EXE (a memory manager) we can load some devices in the high memory area to free up more conventional memory for programs.
If you do not have real mode CD-ROM drivers, either use the one from your WIN98 startup disk (note which one is loading as you boot with it) or download the bootdisk.zip file I made and use that one.