Extract Original Compressed Windows Files

This Tutorial Applies to:

  • Windows Me
  • Windows 98
  • Windows 95

Level: Intermediate

This step-by-step article describes how to extract compressed files.
Many Microsoft product files are compressed and stored in cabinet
(.cab) files; to use a file in a .cab file, you must first extract that
file. You may want to extract a new copy of a file if you have a
missing or damaged file. This article shows you multiple methods for
doing so. Windows 95 and Windows 98 are available on CD-ROM or floppy
disks, both of which contain compressed cabinet files. Windows
Millennium Edition (Millennium Edition) is available on CD-ROM; it
contains compressed cabinet files and also installs compressed cabinet
files in the C:WindowsOptionsInstall folder. These cabinet files
contain the actual Windows files. This article describes how to extract
individual files from compressed cabinet files.

Windows Millennium Edition

In Windows

To extract files in Windows Millennium Edition, use the System Configuration Utility tool. To do this, follow these steps:

  • Click Start, and then Run.
  • Type msconfig, and press ENTER.
  • On the General tab, click "Extract File".
  • In
    the "Specify the system file you would like to restore" box, type
    "drive:windowspathfile" (where "drive" is the drive on which the
    Windows folder is installed, generally drive C, path is the location in
    the Windows folder is the destination of the file that you are
    extracting, and file is the file that you want to extract).
  • Click
    Start, click Browse, and then locate the Windows installation files. If
    you are using an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) version of
    Windows Millennium Edition, the installation files are on the hard disk
    at C:WindowsOptionsInstall by default. If you are using a retail
    full version or upgrade version, you can also insert the Windows
    Millennium Edition installation CD-ROM into the CD-ROM drive or DVD-ROM
    drive, and then locate the installation files. The folder is named
    "Win9x". For example, if your CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive is D:, the folder
    is named "D:Win9x". For Windows 98, the folder is named D:Win98.
  • Click OK, and then follow the instructions on the screen.

Because Windows Millennium Edition has a feature called System File Protection, extraction is different for these files.

Cannot Start Windows

When you install Windows Millennium Edition, you are prompted to create
a Windows Millennium Edition startup disk. A feature included in the
Windows Millennium Edition startup disk is support for CD-ROM drives.
This may be of benefit if you have to extract a file from the Windows
Millennium Edition CD-ROM but you cannot use the System Configuration
Utility tool (for example, if your computer does not start properly).

Note:
The Windows Millennium Edition startup disk provides support for most
types of CD-ROM drives, including IDE and SCSI CD-ROM drives, but it
may not support your particular CD-ROM drive.

Create a Startup Disk

You must have a Windows Millennium Edition startup disk to perform the
steps in the following sections of this article. If you do not have
one, you can create one using any Windows Millennium Edition-based
computer to which you have access. To create a Windows Millennium
Edition startup disk, follow these steps:

  • Click Start, go to Settings, and then click Control Panel.
  • Double-click Add/Remove Programs.
  • On the Startup Disk tab, click Create Disk, and then follow the instructions on the screen.


Extract Files By Using Startup Disk

To start your computer with CD-ROM support, and then extract files, follow these steps:

  • Insert the Windows Millennium Edition startup disk into drive A, and then restart your computer.
  • When the Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition Startup menu appears, click Start computer with CD-ROM support.
    Note:
    If you purchased your computer with Windows Millennium Edition
    installed, the cabinet files may be installed in the
    WindowsOptionsInstall folder: If these files are on your computer,
    you do not have to have CD-ROM support at this step, and you can
    extract the files that you must have from the WindowsOptionsInstall
    folder. Click Start computer without CD-ROM support, and then continue
    to step 4 without using step 3.
  • Insert the Windows Millennium Edition CD-ROM into the CD-ROM drive.
  • At the command prompt, type ext, press ENTER, and then follow the instructions on the screen.


Windows 98 and Windows 98 Second Edition

In Windows

To extract files in Windows 98 or Windows 98 Second Edition, use the System File Checker tool. To do this, follow these steps:

  • Click Start, and then click Run.
  • Type sfc, and then press ENTER.
  • Click "Extract one file from installation disk".
  • In
    the "Specify the system file you would like to restore" box, type
    "drive:windowspathfile" (where drive is the drive where the Windows
    folder is installed, generally drive C, path is the destination of the
    file that you are extracting, and file is the file that you want to
    extract).
  • Click Start, click Browse next to the Restore from
    box, and then locate the Windows installation files. By default, in the
    OEM version of Windows 98 and Windows 98 Second Edition the
    installation files are on the hard disk in the C:Cabs folder. With a
    retail full version or upgrade version, you can also insert the Windows
    installation CD-ROM into the CD-ROM drive or DVD-ROM drive, and then
    locate the Windows installation files. The folder is named "Win9x". For
    example, if your CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive is D:, the folder is named
    "D:Win9x". For Windows 98, the folder is named D:Win98.
  • Click OK, and then follow the instructions on the screen.

Cannot Start Windows

When you install Windows 98, you are prompted to create a Windows 98
startup disk. A feature included in the Windows 98 startup disk is
support for CD-ROM drives. This may be of benefit if you have to
extract a file from the Windows 98 CD-ROM but you cannot use System
File Checker tool (for example, if your computer does not start
properly).

Note:
The Windows 98 startup disk provides support for most types of CD-ROM
drives, including IDE and SCSI CD-ROM drives, but it may not support
your particular CD-ROM drive.

Create a Startup Disk

You must have a Windows 98 startup disk to perform the steps in the
following sections of this article. If you do not have one, you can
create one by using any Windows 98-based computer where you have
access. To create a Windows 98 startup disk, follow these steps:

  • Click Start, point to Settings, and then click Control Panel.
  • Double-click Add/Remove Programs.
  • On the Startup Disk tab, click Create Disk, and then follow the instructions on the screen.

Note:
If you do not have a startup disk or access to a Windows 98-based
computer, you may be able to create a startup disk from the MS-DOS
prompt on your computer.

Extract Files by Using Startup Disk

To start your computer with CD-ROM support and then extract files, follow these steps:

  • Insert the Windows 98 startup disk into drive A, and then restart your computer.
  • When the Microsoft Windows 98 Startup menu appears, choose Start computer with CD-ROM support.
    Note:
    If you purchased your computer with Windows 98 installed, the cabinet
    files may be installed in the C:Cabs folder. If these files are on
    your computer, you do not have to have CD-ROM support at this step, and
    you can extract the files that you must have from the folder on the
    hard disk. To do so, click Start computer without CD-ROM support, and
    then continue to step 4 without using step 3.
  • Insert the Windows 98 CD-ROM into the CD-ROM drive.
  • Type ext at the command prompt, press ENTER, and then follow the instructions on the screen.

Windows 95

In Windows

To extract files in Windows 95, use the extract command. To do this, follow these steps.

  • Click Start, point to Find, and then click Files or Folders.
  • In the Look in box, click Drive C, and then click to select the Include subfolders check box.
  • In the Named box, type .cab to search for cabinet files.
  • Click Find Now.
    If the cabinet files do not exist on the hard disk, insert the Windows
    installation CD-ROM, and then repeat the search on the CD-ROM drive.
  • When you find the cabinet files, note the location of the file (for example, C:Cabs). This is your source path.
  • In the Named box, type extract.exe to search for the extract command program.
  • Click
    Find Now. If the extract command does not exist on the hard disk, copy
    the Extract.exe file from disk 1 or the Windows 95 CD-ROM to the root
    folder of drive C. To do so, type the following command at the MS-DOS
    prompt: "copy cd_drive:extract.exe hard_disk:"
    where cd_drive is the drive that contains the Windows 95 CD-ROM or disk and hard_disk is your hard disk. For example: "copy a:extract.exe c:"
  • Click Start, and then click Run.
  • Generally, the extract command has the following form: "extract source path file /L c:windowscommand"
    For example, if the source path is C:Cabs, the extract command is "extract drive:cabsfile /L drive:windowspath"
    where drive is the drive on which Windows is installed (typically drive C), path is the destination folder for the extracted file, and file is the file that you want to extract.
  • Click OK.

Access Denied Error

The Extract tool has only a command-line interface. That is, there is
no graphical user interface (GUI). Because Windows does not permit you
to delete or overwrite a file that is in use, you may have to restart
your computer in Command Prompt Only mode before you can use the
Extract tool.

If you receive an "access denied" error message when you try to delete
a file before you use the Extract tool, or when you use the Extract
tool to overwrite an existing file, restart your computer in Command
Prompt Only mode and then use the Extract tool. To do this, follow
these steps:

  • Click Start, and then click Shut Down.
  • Click Restart, and then click OK.
  • When you receive the "Starting Windows 95" message, press the F8 key, and then click "Command Prompt Only".

Note:
If you are extracting Windows files from a CD-ROM, make sure that you
can change directories to your CD-ROM drive from the command prompt.
For example, type the following commands, pressing ENTER after each
line:
cd drive:
dir
where drive is the drive letter of your CD-ROM drive.

If you receive an "invalid drive specification" error message, you may not have real-mode CD-ROM support.

Cannot Start Windows

When you install Windows 95, you are prompted to create a Windows 95
startup disk. A feature included in the Windows 95 startup disk is
support for CD-ROM drives. This may help if you must extract a file
from the Windows 95 CD-ROM, but you cannot use the previous steps (for
example, if your computer does not start properly).

Note:
The Windows 95 startup disk provides support for most types of CD-ROM
drives, including IDE and SCSI CD-ROM drives, but it may not support
your particular CD-ROM drive.

Create a Startup Disk

You must have a Windows 95 startup disk to perform the steps in the
following sections of this article. If you do not have one, you can
create one by using any Windows 95-based computer where you have
access. To create a Windows 95 startup disk, follow these steps:

  • Click Start, point to Settings, and then click Control Panel.
  • Double-click Add/Remove Programs.
  • On the Startup Disk tab, click Create Disk, and then follow the instructions on the screen.

Note:
If you do not have a startup disk or access to a Windows 95-based
computer, you may be able to create a startup disk from the MS-DOS
prompt on your computer.

Extract Files by Using Startup Disk

To start your computer with CD-ROM support and then extract files, follow these steps:

  • Insert the Windows 95 startup disk into drive A, and then restart your computer.
  • When the Microsoft Windows 95 Startup menu appears, choose "Start computer with CD-ROM support".
    Note:
    If you purchased your computer with Windows 95 installed, the cabinet
    files may be installed in the C:cabs folder. If these files are on
    your computer, you do not have to have CD-ROM support at this step, and
    you can extract the files that you must have from the folder on the
    hard disk. To do so, click Start computer without CD-ROM support, and
    then continue to step 4 without using step 3.
  • Insert the Windows 95 CD-ROM into the CD-ROM drive.
  • Generally, the extract command has the following form: "extract source path file /L c:windowscommand"
    For example, if the source path is C:Cabs, the extract command is "a:extract drive:cabsfile /L drive:windowspath"
    where drive is the drive on which Windows is installed (typically drive C), path is the destination folder for the extracted file, and file is the file you want to extract.

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