I have an old laptop with only a floppy drive. It came with Windows 95 on it but suffered from some terrible BSoDs that I could not resolve. I figured I would just download some Windows 95 install disks and reformat it, but apparently those disks were a special type and format that held more than 1440 KiB. The floppies I have are incapable of being formatted that way.

Is there any other way to make Windows 95 install disks that fit onto standard disks? Or is there some way I can split these into smaller files and then copy them all onto the HD and then join them up again and install it that way?

I currently have Windows 3.11 installed.

  • 14
    You can just copy all the files from all the disks into a single directory and then run SETUP from there.
    – Renan
    Jun 7, 2018 at 16:06
  • 3
    The 1.68mb format is just a different formatting of a vanilla 1.44mb; any disk that can be formatted at 1.44mb should be usable at 1.68mb. Are you sure your disks are at fault? This might be splitting hairs — if you're writing via a USB floppy drive then possibly the disks are fine but the drive won't play along, with the same outcome.
    – Tommy
    Jun 7, 2018 at 20:47
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    @Tommy: When writing a sector on a disk, there's a little bit of uncertainty in where the new data will be placed. A 1.44MB disk leaves a little extra space between sectors so that even if a sector runs a little "long" it won't hit the start of the next sector. If 21 sectors are written as fast as possible, each sector will be guaranteed to finish before the next one starts, and all 21 can complete before the disk rotates far enough to reach the first sector again. An attempt to write any sector but the last, however, may corrupt the next sector.
    – supercat
    Jun 7, 2018 at 21:20
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    @Tommy: Nowadays, I think the thing to do would be to simply connect to the drive a microcontroller with enough RAM to hold an entire track, and have it simply generate all the necessary bits to feed the drive in a straight shot.
    – supercat
    Jun 7, 2018 at 22:06
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    @Tommy: BTW, I wonder how much it would have cost in silicon to offer commands to read and write an arbitrary number of bits as raw phase transitions rather than as MFM data, without regard for sector headers? I would think that if anything a command to write arbitrary bits should be cheaper than the "format" command, but perhaps the latter would be kept anyway to allow for use on systems that couldn't feed out a track's sector's worth of data smoothly?
    – supercat
    Jun 8, 2018 at 17:08

3 Answers 3


These are Distribution Media Format disks, storing 1.68 MB of data instead of the usual 1.44 MB (on high-density 3.5” disks).

There are a couple of strategies you can use:

  1. You can create floppies with the original contents of the installation disks. If you’re running Windows, WinImage is supposed to be able to write such images to floppies. Under Linux, you can format DMF disks using fdformat and write the images directly.

  2. You can copy the images’ contents to a directory (W95INST for example) on the laptop’s hard drive, if you have some other way of copying files there, and then run SETUP from the hard drive. To copy the files, you could for example use a serial or parallel cable with INTERSRV and INTERLNK under DOS, or extract the drive from the laptop and connect it to another system. Using floppies to do this is also possible but will be a bit more involved since most of the files on the installation disks are larger than standard floppies, so you’ll need to split them.

  • Please, please do this #2, it's so much more convenient to do the copy (and verify) once and then you'll be able to reinstall whenever you like in the future.
    – KlaymenDK
    Jun 8, 2018 at 12:40

You need the disk images that use 21 floppies, not 13. Originally Win95 came on 21 1.44mb disks, and it wasn't until later that it moved to the 13 DMF format disks. However, do you really not have an old external CD drive laying around? That would be far easier.

  • 3
    That is very interesting, I had forgotten that the first RTM version was available on 1.44MB disks! It was even available on 1.2MB disks for computers which only had a 5.25” drive... Jun 8, 2018 at 7:33
  • Oddly enough my copy of Japanese language version of Windows 95 has 21 DMF formatted disks.
    – user722
    Jun 8, 2018 at 23:34

As Stephen Kitt mentioned, if you have enough floppies, you can make a ZIP file of the installation directory and span it over several floppies. This way you can use whatever disks you happen to have hanging around and don't have to worry if they contain bad sectors as much (those disks simply will hold slightly less.) As the CAB files are already compressed, don't worry too much about compression levels: the difference between level 0 and level 9 will be very small. An additional benefit is that PKUNZIP will tell you if there are errors in the archive, so you don't end up with corrupted installation files on the other end.

However, as you mentioned getting blue screen errors previously, I would look into why you got the the errors in the first place before installing Windows 95, as they could be indicative of hardware issues.

  • 3
    As an aside, even if you're using something like INTERSRV/INTERLNK or LapLink to do the transfer, making the ZIP file is still useful for the error-checking feature.
    – ErikF
    Jun 7, 2018 at 20:34

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