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DOS error messages

There are hundreds of error messages in DOS. Following are the messages that have occurred most frequently.

Access denied
The file is protected or in use by another application.

Bad command or file name
DOS does not understand the command or cannot find the program to run.

Data error reading drive X
An area of the disk is unreadable. Press R to retry or A to stop (abort). A utility program may be able to reconstruct the damaged area.

Duplicate file name
The file cannot be renamed because a file with that name already exists. It may also mean that the file is being used by someone on the network, and it must be closed in order to rename it.

Exception error 12
DOS does not have enough room to handle hardware interrupts.

File not found
DOS cannot locate the file.

General failure reading drive X
Abort, Retry, Fail?
Usually means that an unformatted floppy is being used. Press A to Abort, format the floppy and try again. This error will occur if a low-density drive attempts to read a high-density diskette.

Incorrect DOS Version
An earlier or later version of a command is on the hard disk, and it belongs to another DOS version. Commands from one DOS version often do not work in other versions.

Internal Stack Failure
DOS has gotten completely confused. Turn off the computer and restart.

Invalid directory
The directory name cannot be found.

Invalid drive specification
If this message occurs on a valid drive such as C:, the hard disk may have become corrupted.

Invalid file name or file not found
An invalid character in likely used in a DOS file name. Wild cards may cause errors. For example, the command type *.* would cause this error because only one file can be Typed at one time.

Invalid media type
DOS does not recognize the format of the drive being referenced. The disk has been corrupted in some manner and is not readable. This error will also occur if a disk was never formatted properly.

Invalid parameter
DOS does not understand the switch used on the command line. Be sure to use a forward slash (/) for parameters (switches).

Non-system disk or disk error
Replace and press any key when ready
Usually means a non-bootable floppy is in drive A. The computer looks for DOS on a floppy before it looks for DOS on the hard disk. If an ordinary floppy is in drive A at startup, it causes this error. Remove the disk and press any key.

Not ready reading drive X
Abort, Retry, Fail?
This meant the drive door was left open or a diskette was not in the floppy drive. Either insert the floppy or close the drive door (turn lever) and press R.

To switch to another drive after the "Current drive is no longer valid>" message is displayed, press F and the drive letter (or I for DOS prior to 4.0).

Not ready writing device PRN
Abort, Retry, Fail?
The printer is turned off or unavailable. Press A to cancel, or turn the printer on and press R. Also check the cable connection to the unit.

Path not found
An invalid path name was entered.

Stack overflow
DOS does not have enough room to handle hardware interrupts. A bad expansion card or one that is not seated properly can cause erratic signals eventually leading to this message.

System Halted
Means the computer could not continue due to a hardware or software problem. It can occur if a memory parity error is detected or if a peripheral board goes awry. A program bug can also cause this as well as a virus. Testing memory, testing for viruses and removing peripheral boards one at a time are ways to isolate the problem.

Write protect error
The floppy disk has been protected and data cannot be recorded. Either unprotect it or use another disk. See file protection.

file protection

Preventing accidental erasing of data. Physical file protection is provided on the storage medium by turning a switch, moving a lever or covering a notch. Writing is prohibited even if the software directs the computer to do so. For example, on the eariler half-inch tape, a plastic ring in the center of the reel was removed (no ring-no write).

Logical file protection is provided by the operating system, which can designate files as read only. This allows both regular (read/write) and read only files to be stored on the same disk volume. Files can also be designated as hidden files, which makes them invisible to most software programs.

If You're Holey, You're Protected!
In the days of high-density 3.5" diskettes, when both holes were showing, you were "protected."

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DOS commandDOS on Mac Card
DOS device namesDOS prompt
DOS directoriesDOS Recover
DOS environmentDOS root

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