If you’ve worked with Windows 9x systems in the past, you’re
probably aware that you could create a special floppy disk that included all of
the important system files to boot the operating system. You could then use
this floppy to repair the system if it failed.

While Windows NT doesn’t include this option, you can create
setup floppies. These are bootable disks that allow you to install the
operating system on computers that don’t support booting from the CD-ROM drive.

To create the setup floppies, prepare three formatted
floppies, and insert the Windows NT CD. Run winnt32
from the i386 folder, and follow the prompts. (For Windows 9x systems,
run winnt /ox to create the setup

Even though you can’t use these floppies to boot Windows NT,
you can use them to repair the system. When you boot from these floppies, the
setup will ask you to press [Enter] to install or R to repair. Choose the
latter option, and follow the prompts.

If your computer supports booting from a CD-ROM drive, you
don’t need these setup floppies. Just insert the Windows NT CD and boot the
system, and the system will prompt you with the same options. The only
difference is the speed—booting from a CD is faster than using floppy disks.

However, setup floppies aren’t the only floppies you can
create that allow you to troubleshoot the system. You can also create a
bootable floppy.

As you may know, Windows NT requires several files to
successfully boot, all located on the first partition of the first hard drive
in the system. When something goes wrong with the disk or if the operating
system can’t find these files, the system will fail to boot.

The initial boot requires these files: NTLDR, Ntdetect.com,
Boot.ini, Bootsect.dos (if it exists), and Ntbootdd.sys (if it exists). To
create a bootable floppy, copy these files to a floppy formatted in Windows NT.
Make sure you’ve properly formatted the floppy, or it won’t be able to boot
Windows NT.

Keep in mind that this isn’t a real bootable floppy. It only
contains enough information to perform the initial boot.