How to get a program off of an old MS-DOS system and onto a new Windows 7 system.
Last week I went to see a client that told me they wanted to upgrade their office computer. “It’s getting old and slow.” After a short discussion it was decided that it is best just to build a new one rather than put money into such an old system. I’m told,” 25 years of company info is on it and we can’t lose anything.” Which prompts the “Do you back up?” and I’m assured a back up is done at the end of every day. Although I did later learn it is backed up to the local hard drive, because they don’t know how to backup other than click the button marked “Back up”. The old system is working so I can back up the old system files and restore them to the new one, then leave the old system intact, there is little risk of lost files. I’m told the system runs Windows XP. I offer that the new system would be quite capable of running Windows 7 and question would they like to step up to a current Windows 7 version. After another short discussion it is decided that since they don’t know what the software they use daily is called and it may or may not run under Windows 7. It does however run under Windows XP so they want to stay with XP at least for now. Discussions included looking for newer software to do the job they need that will run under Windows 7 or even Windows 8 as an eventual inevitability. We part with the understanding that I will build them a new system and then come by at the end of the week and take the old system to install software and move data from the old to the new.
I arrive on Friday at the end of the day to pick up the old system and ask details of the office staff hoping to learn more about the software. I think the staff actually knows less than I do. I verified that a backup was run today and asked if it was really just backed up to the local drive and was told it must be because they didn’t have any of those “Flash thingies”. “We used to use that floppy” pointing to an old iOmega 100mb ZipDrive but we don’t have any disks anymore. I take the old system back to the shop with intensions of running a backup myself first thing.
Turns out the old PC is a Pentium 75 running DOS 5.0 and Win 3.1! No Windows XP, No network, No USB, No CD-RW, No modem. The hard drive is 4gb partitioned with Seagate Disc Wizard to three 1.4gb partitions, C: D: and E:. It does have an iOmega 100mb ZipDrive with no disks. I boot up the system and DOS 5.0 boots with old but familiar prompts. Hi-Mem loads, Mouse driver loads, CD-Rom drivers load, Sound Blaster driver loads. Then Windows 3.1 starts, then a Windows 3.1 type program manager loads with options like “Service Manager” and “Backup”. It also includes a button for “Back to Windows’ and “Exit to DOS”. No options for configuration so I “Exit to DOS” and go looking for the “Service Manager” location. I find a copy on “C:\servm” and a copy on “c:\servm\servm” a copy on “D:\servm” a copy on “d:\servm\backup\servm” and a copy on “e:\servm”. Turns out the copy on E: has recently dated files so I could copy that directory to a ZipDrive but it is over 120mb and no copy of PKZIP and oh yeah, no Zip disks. And when I get it there I don’t know if it will run under Windows XP. Once upon a time I had software and cables to copy PC to PC via LPT ports or COM ports using MS-DOS but that is long gone.
I could pull the drive and attach it to another system and copy what I need but disturbing dirty connections on drives puts more risk into the mix than I would like and since there is a good inch of crude at the bottom of the case so it nearly covers the first PCI slot I opt to go looking for an old Zip disk. In storage among the old 5 1/4 inch floppy drives and old single speed CD-Rom drives I find my stash of 3 ZipDrives and one Zip disk. Now that I have a 100mb zip disk to hold a 120mb worth of data I set off to find a version of PKZIP that will run under MS-DOS. While going through old software stashes I find and old Gem “XTGOLD”. Wow! I remember using that a lot to manage files and to ZIP and UNZIP with ease and it’s on a floppy. Too bad the floppy drive on the old system doesn’t work but I have another less old system that has a working floppy and a CD-RW running XP. I copy “XTGOLD” from that floppy to a less old system that has a burner and then to a CD-R and into the old system. “XTGOLD” runs just fine from the CD-R. I ZIP the program directory down to 24mb and copy it to the Zip disk. Now I have a backup. So I shut down the old system and put it away.
I installed one of my ZipDrives into my less old system. Now that we are working with Windows XP the program “directory” is now a “Folder”. I copy the Program folder from the Zip disk to the hard drive. I check the program batch files for any weird declarations and since there are none I go ahead and run the file. I still have a copy on the original system, on a Zip disk, and on my less old system, plenty of backup in case of failure. Wonder of wonders, the program works.
Now that I know the program runs under Windows XP without any special incantations or incense burning it was a simple matter of copying the program folder on the XP system onto a flash drive and then copying it to the new system hard drive. I made a shortcut on the desktop with a proper label and set up a script to copy the program folder to a flash drive with a single click. I return with the new and old systems and set up dual monitors on the new system. One monitor is setup at a low resolution to run the DOS program at a readable size because it runs in a 640 by 480 DOS Window. The other monitor is set up to run at a much higher resolution to accommodate new software and Internet Applications.
Everyone is happy.
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