What's DOS? What's MS-DOS?
DOS stands for Disk Operating System. Before Windows was a thing, most IBM PC compatible systems ran some version of DOS, most of them running PC-DOS or MS-DOS (Microsoft DOS). Microsoft is credited with DOS, although in actuality it licensed/bought the code from other companies. DOS is a command-line based operating system, so commands are issued at the command prompt. For more information about the history of DOS, pay a visit to the Computer History Museum MS-DOS Source Code article or of course the DOS Wikipedia article. Today DOS continues to be used in specialized situations, including modern versions such as FreeDOS.
I downloaded a game. Now what?

To play your newly downloaded game, you have several options available to you:

  • Novice: Use DOSBox. Recommended for newbies / most people. DOSBox is a free DOS emulator that runs on Windows, Mac, Linux, and more, and allows you to play most DOS games just as though you were using "real" DOS. Read our DOSBox Guide to learn how to run the DOSBox DOS emulator on your modern PC.
  • Experienced: Use VirtualBox. VirtualBox is a free virtualization program that allows you to run other real OSes on your modern PC. Read a guide to installing DOS on VirtualBox.
  • Pro: Build a DOS PC. This is way beyond the scope of this FAQ, but for the true authentic experience, you can build a DOS-centric PC and install DOS on it, or purchase a pre-built PC for that purpose. Here is a post with building advice to get you started, and an extensive YouTube building walkthrough by Lazy Game Reviews.
Error message: "Load error: no DPMI - Get csdpmi*b.zip"
If you receive this error, you should download the CWSDPMI v7b file (17k) and unzip it into the game's directory. See the utilities page for more information.
Error message: "Stub exec failed: dos4gw.exe No such file or directory"
If you receive this error, you should download the DOS/4G v1.97 file (139k) and unzip it into the game's directory. See the utilities page for more information.
Error message: "Runtime Error 200" and/or "Divide by zero"
This error is often caused by a problem in certain Pascal programs that were used to compile the games. See this page for information on how to fix this problem.
Who is the kid giving the thumbs-up beside the DOSGames.com logo?
That's Commander Keen! He's the eponymous hero of Apogee's Commander Keen sidescrollers. You can download several Command Keen games for free from this site.
I used to play this game where two gorillas threw bananas at each other ...
That game is quite likely "Gorillas" which came included as a demo game of QBasic with MS-DOS. More information on the game is available in the Wikipedia Gorillas (video game) article.
Can you find this game for me?
Sorry, I don't have time to search for games anymore. Please try posting on the DOS Games Forum in the Find Old Games area (no registration necessary). You can also try posting on the Tip of my Joystick subreddit.
The game runs too fast! How can I slow it down?

If you're using DOSBox, you can set the CPU cycles (ie, the speed at which the game runs) by using the CYCLES command. Type "CYCLES #" where # is a number and higher = faster. The DOSBox Performance page talks more about CPU cycles and provides a chart with rough equivalents to x86 systems. You can also try "CYCLES AUTO" to have DOSBox try to guess how fast to run the game. You can manually increase/decrease the cycles by pressing the Ctrl+F11 key to slow it down. (Press Ctrl+12 to speed it up.)

If you're using "real" DOS, try the Moslo utility.

Why does the DOS font used on DOSGames.com look fuzzy?
This is no fault of the excellent Ultimate Oldschool PC Font Pack. Unfortunately each web browser renders fonts slightly differently, and in some situations some browsers will unavoidably blur what should be a pixel-perfect rendition of a font. Currently I know of no solution to this problem outside of elaborate server-generated images (ewww) or something like that. I have tried to mitigate the issues as best as I can, but if you know of a solution, please contact me.
What's the point of this site when Archive.org already has ALL TEH GAMES?

It's true that the Archive.org DOS Software Archive contains a ridiculous amount of stuff to download and try online. It's truly an amazing effort. However, it also contains a lot of "abandonware" (aka, illegally distributed software). Granted, many of the rights-holders no longer care if their software is freely distributed or even still exist. Yet from the start DOSGames.com has been an independently run website to find free to play games, whether those are made available via freeware, shareware, public domain, or some other free license.

Also, I designed the site to provide a more holistic treatment of the topic, including features like:

  • Better, more natural search and categorization.
  • Extra info about each game, like multiplayer options, violence, and in the future, instructions.
  • Video previews with gameplay footage and no commentary.
  • A retro-DOS website theme.
  • Personalized reviews for each game.
  • Curated selections of games such as textmode games, or games offering multiplayer options.
  • Discussion boards for finding old games, getting games to work, and other topics.
  • Collections of other materials, such as electronic magazines and company game catalogs.
  • Blog to announce new additions, extra video content, and news related to DOS/retro games.

If you have suggestions for content that you would like to see here, please feel free to contact me.

Why is Dogbreath such a hunky studmuffin?
Only God knows why. :) (Editor's note: Seriously? Dude WTF.)
Need more help?
Try posting on the DOSGames.com Forum or contact me and I'll do my best to help!
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