Making a bootable MS-DOS floppy disk is one of the easiest tasks that can be done on a computer, but often the one which isn’t needed often – although needed enough that it’s too late when problems come up to make one.

Before even beginning to make the floppy boot disk, make sure that the computer you’re using has a 3.5’’ floppy drive (usually the A drive), as not many prefabricated computers come with them anymore. If the computer does not have a floppy drive, either one must be purchased and installed, or the files needed to make a bootable CD must be downloaded and copied to a blank CD.

Insert a blank 3.5’’ high density (1.44MB) floppy disk into the drive. If the disk is unformatted it can either be formatted first, or will automatically do so before copying the boot disk files. To format the disk first click the Start button located at the bottom left of the screen, and then My Computer. Right-click the (A:) icon, and choose format. A warning will pop up telling the user that all data on the disk will be permanently erased. Click yes to continue, and wait for the disk to be formatted.

Once this is done, right-click the A drive again, then format. Under format options click Create an MS-DOS startup Disk. (Please note that formatting the disk first is not necessary. Both will be accomplished simply by clicking the Create an MS-DOS startup disk and following the directions.)

The next step is to test the disk. For this some of the BIOS options may need to be changed. Consult the computer or motherboard manual to learn how to change the primary and secondary boot methods. The option to boot from floppy must be the first, with the hard drive usually being the second.

If all has gone well, the disk should boot the computer to an MS-DOS prompt (C:). From this point you have the option to do things from formatting the hard drive to setting up logical DOS partitions. Remove the disk, label it, and put in a safe location. It may never be needed, but it’s always a good thing to have options.