How to restore the system.ini and win.ini

Tip: This document only applies to Microsoft Windows 3.x, Windows 95, and Windows 98 users.

The system.--- or win.--- are the original system.ini and win.ini files used for backup purposes when Microsoft Windows is first installed on the computer. When using these files to correct issues with the current system.ini and win.ini all changes made to these files since Windows was first installed will be lost. If any program does not work after following the instructions below, reinstall that program. The instructions below are used to fix boot errors or other computer issues that may occur because of a corrupt win.ini or system.ini.

If you are using Windows 3.x and are in Windows

Click File and choose to exit Windows

If you are using Windows 95/98 and are in Windows

Click Start
Click Shutdown
Choose to restart the computer in MS-DOS mode and click ok.

Once at the MS-DOS prompt type the below commands to restore the system.ini

cd\windows <press enter>
ren system.ini system.ch <press enter>

If after attempting to rename the system.ini you receive File not found, continue to follow the steps below.

ren system.--- system.ini <press enter>

If after attempting to type the above command you receive file not found, follow the instructions below. If you do not receive a message your system.ini should be restored to its original state.

dir system.*

If you see a file other than system.ch such as system.bak or system.000, follow the above instructions but replace the --- with the appropriate extension on your computer.

Once at the MS-DOS prompt type the below commands to restore the win.ini

cd\windows <press enter>
ren win.ini win.ch <press enter>

If after attempting to rename the win.ini you receive File not found, continue to follow the steps below.

ren win.--- win.ini <press enter>

If after attempting to type the above command you receive file not found, follow the instructions below. If you do not receive a message your win.ini should be restored to its original state.

dir win.*

If you see a file other than win.ch or win.com such as win.bak or win.000, follow the above instructions but replace the --- with the appropriate extension on your computer.

Restore files back

If you encounter additional errors or at any time you want to use the files you renamed you can rename the original files, by reversing the above commands. Below are examples of renaming the files back if you so desire.

ren system.ch system.ini
ren win.ch win.ini

This should not be necessary unless you encountered issues while following the above steps or after restoring the original system.ini and win.ini.

Additional information

  • See the system.ini and win.ini definitions for fruther information and related links on these terms.