NewDeal Technical Support Document 206


The absolute least you should know about your AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS files

What are these files for?

AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS are configuration files that DOS automatically runs every time you turn on or reboot your computer. These files determine what programs are automatically started, where DOS looks for programs, how your computer's memory is managed, and how much of your computer's resources are reserved for use by different DOS functions.

NOTE: For more information about your AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS files, consult your DOS manual. Please don't ask us for help with fine tuning your DOS settings. Although we're providing the following basic information, our expertise is NewDeal software, not DOS. Please refer to the documentation for your DOS, or contact its manufacturer for assistance. Each computer's configuration is unique, so you need to be familiar with your PC and the software you use before you change these files.

Why two files?

CONFIG.SYS primarily loads device drivers, programs that control your hardware and memory. AUTOEXEC.BAT is mainly used to give instructions about how you want to interact with DOS.

Checking out your configuration files

The easiest way to look at your AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS files is to use the Text File Editor application. Or, you can use the MS-DOS Edit or Type command, or the DR-DOS Editor, or the Windows Notepad. Both AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS must be in the root directory of your C: drive. Otherwise, DOS won't be able to find them. The statements in these files can be upper case, lower case, or a combination of both. DOS doesn't care. DOS does care about punctuation, though. Don't confuse colons (:) with semi-colons (;) or DOS will misread the line.

A word to the wise

Don't modify these files without having a bootable floppy disk (also called a system disk) which contains your original, working AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS files. If you make changes that cause your system to hang when you reboot, you can always boot from the floppy and copy the files back to the hard drive. For instructions on making a bootable floppy disk, see your DOS manual.


AUTOEXEC stands for AUTOmatically EXECute. The lines in AUTOEXEC.BAT are commands that could be entered at the DOS prompt. Since this would take a long time, DOS puts all of the commands you need when you start up your computer in AUTOEXEC.BAT. When you turn on or reboot your computer, DOS looks for AUTOEXEC.BAT and executes all the lines in it in sequence.

AUTOEXEC.BAT configures the DOS environment, including the way DOS displays information on the screen and where DOS looks for commands you enter at the DOS prompt. You can also include commands to automatically run programs, but these commands need to be put at the end of the AUTOEXEC.BAT file. For example, if you want to automatically enter your NewDeal software when you turn on your computer, you can add the line NEWDEAL to the end of your AUTOEXEC.BAT file.

What do all of these lines in my AUTOEXEC.BAT file mean, anyway?

Here are some common commands you might find in an AUTOEXEC.BAT file:

ECHO OFF - Tells DOS to not display the rest of the commands in AUTOEXEC.BAT on the monitor. The commands still execute, but DOS keeps quiet about it.

PATH - Tells DOS where to look for the commands you type in at the DOS prompt. When you enter something at the DOS prompt, DOS will search the directories in the PATH until it finds the program you typed in. If DOS can't find the program in the PATH or in the directory you're currently in, it tells you "Bad command or file name." A semicolon separates each directory in the PATH statement.

PROMPT - Tells DOS what you want your prompt to look like. For example, the line PROMPT $P$G instructs DOS to display the current directory as part of the prompt.


The CONFIG.SYS file is primarily hardware related. Many of the lines in CONFIG.SYS load device drivers, programs that control hardware devices like your CD-ROM player (if you have one). CONFIG.SYS also contains commands that manage memory and set aside a certain amount of memory for use by DOS. Here are a few of the commands you might find your CONFIG.SYS file and what they mean.

FILES - This line specifies how many files can be open at the same time. In NewDeal software, a lot of files have to be open at the same time. These files include the NewDeal system software, the application you're in (for example, NewWrite), your personal documents, font files, and driver files that control your printer and mouse. If FILES is set too low, you won't be able to run NewDeal software, or it may give you a message like "Insufficient file handles, increase files in CONFIG.SYS."

If you're using MS-DOS, NewDeal software needs your files to equal at least 30. If you're using DR-DOS 6.0, files should equal at least 120. If everything is working fine, you probably shouldn't change the FILES setting.

BUFFERS - Buffers are temporary holding spaces for information you're moving to and from a disk, be it a hard drive or floppy disk. If your BUFFERS setting is high, you'll be able to read and write information faster, but a high value for BUFFERS also means less memory is available for your programs and documents. If BUFFERS is set too low, your hard disk will seem sluggish and you might not be able to print large documents.

For any version of DOS, NewDeal software needs BUFFERS to equal at least 30. It's best not to change this setting, especially if your NewDeal software is working fine.

SHELL - The SHELL statement tells DOS where to look for COMMAND.COM, the main DOS program file, and how much memory to set aside for DOS to use when executing commands. This is another line you don't want to change unless you're really sure about what you're doing.

Sample files

Here are sample AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS files with explanations. Yours will look a little different. Don't copy these settings, they're only examples.


ECHO OFF - Don't display the following commands on screen while executing the AUTOEXEC.BAT file.
prompt $p$g - Show me the current directory as part of my DOS prompt.
PATH C:\DOS;C:\QUATTRO;C:\NEWDEAL - Look in these directories when I enter a command.
C:\MOUSE\MOUSE - Load this mouse software.
NEWDEAL - Run NewDeal software.


FILES = 40 - Allow 40 files to be open at once.
BUFFERS = 30 - Set aside 30 buffers for disk read and write operations.
DEVICE=C:\DOS\HIMEM.SYS - Use HIMEM.SYS to manage extended memory.
SHELL=C:\DOS\COMMAND.COM C:\DOS\ /e:256 /p - See SHELL above.
DOS=HIGH - Load DOS into high memory.

Windows 95 or Windows 98

On most computers, you do not need a CONFIG.SYS file when using Windows 95 or Windows 98. Windows 95 or 98 automatically configure memory management and your environment for you.
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Last Modified: 15 Feb 1999