How to Use vDOS to Run Old DOS Programs on Windows 10

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If you’re feeling nostalgic for 8-bit games or need to run some old software, 32-bit Windows 10 doesn’t accommodate. Old DOS programs need a little extra to run on the newer, 64-bit version of Windows.

You can use vDos to help you run old DOS software if you need to, although it isn’t a suitable option for gaming. Here’s how to use it.

What Is vDos?

To allow older DOS programs to run on newer Windows platforms, the Virtual DOS Machine (NTVDM) is used. Windows 10 32-bit includes this, but 64-bit versions don’t. Instead, Windows users will see a pop-up alert that DOS programs can’t run.

Dos Windows 10 Warning

vDos is a third-party DOS emulator that replaces Windows’ own NTVDM technology. When you run DOS software through vDos, it’ll load in its own window. It adds network and printer support, provides clipboard access and allows you direct access to your system files.

vDos isn’t the only DOS emulator in town, however. DOSBOX is an alternative, primarily designed for playing old DOS games, something that vDos can’t do. You can also use vDosPlus, a fork of vDos, although vDos receives far more regular updates.

How to Install vDos

If you want to install vDos, head to the vDos download page and download the installation program. The installation process is easy – open the installer and follow the instructions.

Make sure you allow vDos to patch and update to the most recent version of vDos during the installation.

vDos Installation

Once vDos is installed, you can check that it’s working by opening vDos (labeled “vDos”) from the Start menu.

vDos comes with a test version of DataPerfect, an old DOS database tool. The initial configuration file will automatically load DataPerfect once it runs. If vDos is working, DataPerfect should load in its own window.

vDos DataPerfect Test

If vDos is working correctly, close the test window and head to your vDos installation folder (typically “C:\vDos”).

Open the “autoexec.txt” file and remove everything listed within before saving and closing.

Vdos Autoexec File

Open vDos again, and you should see the typical DOS “C:\” prompt. From here, you can now run any DOS software you like.

If you’d like to configure vDos further (to enable print or network support, for instance), the vDos FAQ offers support and guidance to help you.

How to Use vDos

With the initial vDos startup configuration erased, you’ll see the DOS prompt every time you run the vDos program. There’s a selection of interesting DOS software available online that you can try, from text-based web browsers to graphics-editing tools.

To run your software, download your DOS software and place it in the same directory as vDos (for example, “C:\vDos”). This directory is treated as the initial “C:\” directory.

Use the dir command to list files in your current folder, then cd followed by a folder name to move to that folder. Type .. to go up one directory.

Vdos Window

At the “C:\” DOS prompt, type the name of your DOS software EXE file and press enter. Your DOS software will load within the vDos window, ready for you to use.

Running DOS Programs on Windows 10

DOS isn’t just outdated, it’s ancient, with the final release of MS-DOS nearly twenty years ago. Software like vDos helps to fill in the gap, giving a new lease on life to older software that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to run.

Support for DOS is still popular for those who want to play DOS games in Windows. Feel free to give us your thoughts on DOSBOX and vDos in the comments section below.

Image credit: vDos

Ben Stockton Ben Stockton

Ben is a UK based tech writer with a passion for gadgets, gaming, and general geekiness.

One comment

  1. Thanks for the review and the accompanying YouTube video.

    vDos is however meant to prolong the lifespan of DOS apps – still in use – to that of Windows.
    Your reference to “a selection of interesting DOS software” is off. If one doesn’t still use a DOS app, it makes no sense to install vDos, then look for some ‘interesting’ DOS app. Especially since those are actually of no use in modern Windows, and won’t for the major part even run in vDos.

    DOS apps are indeed obsolete, though many still rely on some…

    Jos Schaars (vDos)

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