Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 155 / AUGUST 1993 / PAGE 50

Do Windows users need DOS 6? (Microsoft Windows, IBM DOS 6.0 operating system)
by Clifton Karnes

If you live on a desert island, you may not have heard about DOS 6. The rest of us, though, have been hearing about it a lot. And everyone's trying to figure out the same thing: Is it worth the $50 upgrade? The ones wondering the loudest are probably Windows users. Many of us, after all, don't have all that much to do with DOS. So is DOS 6 worth the upgrade if you run Windows? In a word, yes, and in this column, I'll tell you why.

First, there are several Windows programs included with DOS 6: Microsoft Undelete, Microsoft Backup, Microsoft Antivirus, and a Windows-hosted compression information program that works with Doublespace.

The Undelete and Antivirus programs are from Central Point Software, and they strongly resemble the programs of the same name in PC Tools Deluxe. The Backup program is a special version of Symantec's Norton Backup. These are all first-class tools that any Windows owner will be happy with. And to its credit, the DOS 6 installation program automatically installs a Microsoft Tools group in Program Manager, a Tools menu on File Manager, and, if you're using Windows for Workgroups, four new buttons on the File Manager's toolbar.

Of these utilities, the Undelete program is especially useful. It offers an easy way to recover deleted files, and it can be configured for three levels of delete protection. With Standard, a file can be recovered if it hasn't been overwritten. With Delete Tracker, Undelete stores some information about the state of each file to make successful undeleting more likely. And with Delete Sentry, deleted files are actually spirited to a hidden subdirectory and held there as long as disk space permits. With Delete Sentry, files can always be undeleted in perfect condition as long as you don't wait too awfully long.

The Undelete command installed in File Manager is very helpful, too. The installation program puts this command on the File menu, and, if you're using the Windows for Workgroups File Manager, it installs an Undelete button on the toolbar. When you access Undelete from File Manager, Undelete opens in the directory selected in File Manager. It's much faster and easier to select a directory in File Manager than to use Undelete's Change Drive and Directory dialog box.

These Windows programs are obviously useful to a Windows user, but beyond them there are several other significant enhancements in this DOS.

First, there's MemMaker. If you run DOS programs from Windows, this can be a godsend. MemMaker optimizes the way your computer uses UMBs (Upper Memory Blocks). On my PC, I'm running Stacker, DOS network drivers, multimedia drivers, plus the usual stuff like SMARTDRIVE, Share, Mouse, and Doskey. Before running MemMaker, I had less than 500K of conventional memory free in a DOS session, and some DOS programs just wouldn't run. After running MemMaker, I have about 570K of memory for DOS programs, and everything runs fine. If you need more DOS memory, MemMaker alone may be worth the upgrade.

The next DOS 6 enhancement that may be useful to Windows users is Interlnk. If you share information between computers, Interlnk is an easy way to move files. With Interlnk, you have a client machine and a server machine. On the client, you run an Interlnk device driver. On the server, you run an Interlnk executable. When both programs have been run and your computers are connected with either a serial or parallel cable, the server's drives appear as virtual drives in both DOS and Windows.

If you run Windows File Manager on the client, you'll see the server's drive icons on File Manager's drive bar. You can treat these drives just like your machine's native drives. You can display a directory tree and file window for them, you can copy files to and from these drives, you can tile and arrange the drive windows mixed and matched with your native drive's windows, and you can run programs from them.

The first time I ran Interlnk between my desktop and laptop, I copied a directory and all its subdirectories from the client to the server by dragging and dropping. This is the easiest way I've seen to transfer files between machines.

The last reason for Windows users to upgrade to DOS 6 is DoubleSpace, which can nearly double the size of your hard disk. We all know how Windows programs gobble up disk real estate, and we can all use the extra space. DoubleSpace seems like a blessing for Windows users, but no other part of DOS 6 has caused as much controversy. Next issue, I'll talk about how to install DoubleSpace, how to use it, how it fares against Stacker, and some DoubleSpace add-ons. If you want to go ahead and try DoubleSpace, please see my "DOS 6 First-Aid Kit" in this issue for some safety tips.