NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article
Is Your Win98 CD Worn Out? Don't Fret!
Computer Guru Rod Ream Comes To The Rescue

by Rod Ream, Pasadena IBM Users Group, June 2001
(click to email author)

"Hey Rod," the e-mail started, "have you any suggestions how to get the original Windows 98 CD replaced? The darn thing no longer will install because of an 'error' caused by corrupted CAB file."

"I've had to reinstall Win98 too many times to count in the last year," the e-mail continued, "and the CD seems to have a scratch or fault on it. I tried to clean it with a little rubbing alcohol. I would try Old Crow but I have consumed all that in the endless struggles (in lieu of pulling my hair out--cause there ain't any left anyhow...). Thanks."

Rod's reply is the sort of thing you need to cut out and paste on the side of your monitor. It has vital information you'll need if you bump into the same dilemma.

What's the CD Problem?
The message about corrupted CAB files can have several meanings; none of them mean the files are corrupted.

o The CD is damaged. Not likely unless it's badly scratched, cracked or someone wrote on the face with a ballpoint pen.

o A timing issue. Some CD players may be too fast and the data is being corrupted as it's unpacked. You can work around this in a couple ways: From the DOS prompt type setup /?. You'll see an option to run Setup without using SmartDrive. Turning this off prevents file caching for the CD and although considerably slower, may provide a more reliable file transfer. Disabling L2 and perhaps even L1 caching in the BIOS will slow things down even more.

o AntiVirus software running. Turn it off! If you are using McAfee, you may have to uninstall it to kill it.

o An out of balance CD. Just like a new tire. Rotate it 1/4 and put back into the drive. You'll hear or feel the vibration if this is the case.

The Cab Folder
If the original installation of Windows 98 (or any other version of windows) was performed by a manufacturer, you should already have the CAB files on the hard drive. The usual location would be \windows\options\cabs. If these files exist, you can run setup from that folder, either from Windows or by booting to the command prompt and changing to that folder.

If the contents of the CD \WIN98 folder are not on the hard drive, I'd certainly want to put them there. Aside from not having to hunt for the CD at times like this, Windows will automatically look there whenever it needs a file and will stop asking you to insert the CD.

The best way to copy the files is to boot to the DOS prompt and then use XCOPY, because it has the ability to "retry" difficult files. In your Windows folder, create another folder names CAB. Copy all the files (not the subfolders) from the CD from within the Win98 folder.

Here's How
Since the normal DOS prompt doesn't access the CDROM, you'll have to either re-enable the CD drivers in both config.sys and autoexec.bat or use the W98 boot disk.

Here's the process if you use the boot disk - C: is assumed to be the drive where W98 is installed and we'll assume that the folder named above does not exist: Use the boot disk and select "with CD support." Note the drive letter that's assigned (I'll use "E" here)

    DIR WIN98 (This checks to see if the CD is readable)

When the file copy process is finished, remove the boot disk and CD, then reboot to the command prompt again. You can then run the SETUP from the cabs folder. If you still receive "corrupted" messages, it may be due to bus mastering and you'll need to slow the machine down with one or more of the steps above.

Rod Ream is senior tech support for PIBMUG and president of PC Consulting, 626/280-6850 RodReam@techie.com

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