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Seattle, USA,
26.12.2013, 17:19

MS-DOS LABEL: "Cannot make directory entry" error? (Users)

I'm trying to change the volume label in MS-DOS 6.21 on a set of 3 back-up floppies.

I used DISKCOPY to create copies 2 & 3 of a floppy that I've been using to keep an archive of the development of a tricky batch file I've been working on.

After making the copies I tried to create volume labels for the three diskettes.

But when I typed in a new label at the LABEL prompt, I got this error message:

"Cannot make a directory entry."

The existing label is "AC" (which appears on all three diskettes but which means nothing to me. My memory is so poor these days though, that I could very well have created that label on the original floppy ages ago and then forgotten about it).

I hunted around on the web and found one set of instructions that suggests that the diskette may have once been used with the Windows 95 LFN system.

If that's the case (and it very well could be, because the floppy I made the copies from is an old one and may have once been used for Win 95 data back in the day).

The article suggests reformatting the disk. But if I do that, then I lose all the data on it.

So, I'd be grateful for some ideas on how to make copies of these diskettes onto fresh diskettes so that I would be able to change the volume label on the new copies.

Will in Seattle
a.k.a. "Clueless"
Running MS-DOS 6.21



26.12.2013, 18:41

@ CluelessInSeattl

MS-DOS LABEL: "Cannot make directory entry" error?

the volume label on DOS disks are (for confusing the enemy :) placed in 2 different places:
1) in bootsector
2) in root directory entry (it use special attribute compared to regular file or directory so dir command hide it)
Usually both are synchronized by label command.
But if you have too many files in root directory it may happen there's not enough space for creating volume label direcotry entry. The maximum number of dir. entries in rootdir is FIXED and it's allocaded during formatting of the disk. So you may remove some files/move them to a subdirectory or backup and reformat the disk. But take in mind that if you allocate more space for root dir. entries you'll have less space for user data. I'm not sure if standard DOS format command let you do it but sure there are some tools that can set it (I think disk formatter built in DOS Navigator have many options). If you just copy floppies, then use program that do 1:1 (sector by sector) copy and you avoid this issues.

DOS gives me freedom to unlimited HW access.


27.12.2013, 04:15

@ CluelessInSeattl

MS-DOS LABEL: "Cannot make directory entry" error?

> But when I typed in a new label at the LABEL prompt, I got this error
> message:
> "Cannot make a directory entry."

Volume labels appear in the FAT can also have the read-only attribute set and label.exe will observe this and if set prevent the label being changed. I think also if I remember correctly that setting a system attribute on a volume label also prevents it being found by label.exe

On a related technical note (I don't suggest you try this) you can switch the volume attribute on and off and make the volume label appear as an empty zero byte file in a directory listing. It's date is the creation date, so you can also tell when a volume label was set. Likewise other files with data in can be set as the volume label and it is possible to have more than 1 volume label in the FAT. From memory DOS looks for the first volume label it finds and displays that. But there are various weird things you can do with them.

Anyway it is rare for read-only volume labels to exist but they can, so that could also be the problem if you've ensured the disk isn't readonly as well.

Rare in that I think from memory all of the readonly volume labels I did were manually created. Off hand I can't think of anything that supports making them. I really can't remember as it has been such a long time since I made a read-only volume label. However I did remember about them when I was writing the first version of RJDOS hence why it displays the volume label as a file entry (which it is) with all it's attributes. Rayer is right re the other entry in the bootsector which is often left alone by some label programs.

Never understood the need for both, sure there is a good historical reason. Disk serial numbers were added in DOS 4 and exist in the bootsector only.

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