07 May 2012

The Ultimate Guide To Batch File Programming PART- 1

Batch file programming is nothing but the Windows version of Unix Shell  Programming. Let's start by understanding what happens when we give a DOS command. DOS is basically a file called command.com It is this file (command.com) which handles all DOS commands that you give at the  DOS prompt---such as COPY, DIR, DEL etc. These commands are built in with the
Command.com file. (Such commands which are built in are called internal commands.).


DOS has something called external commands too such as FORMAT, UNDELETE, BACKUP etc. So whenever we give a DOS command either internal or external, command.com either straightaway executes the command (Internal Commands) or calls an external separate program which executes the command for it and returns the result (External Commands.)

So why do I need Batch File Programs? Say you need to execute a set of commands over and over again to perform a routine task like Backing up Important Files, Deleting temporary files(*.tmp, .bak , ~.* etc) then it is very difficult to type the same set of commands over and over  again. To perform a bulk set of same commands over and over again, Batch files are used.


Batch Files are to DOS what Macros are to Microsoft Office and are used to perform an automated predefined set of tasks over and over again. So how do I create batch files? To start enjoying using Batch files, you need to  learn to create Batch files. Batch files are basically plain text files containing DOS commands. So the best editor to write your commands in would be Notepad or the DOS Editor (EDIT) All you need to remember is that a batch file should have the extension .BAT(dot bat)Executing a batch file is quite simple too.For example if you create a Batch file and save it with the filename batch.bat then all you need to execute the batch file is to type:


So what happens when you give a Batch file to the command.com to execute? Whenever command.com comes across a batch file program, it goes into batch mode. In the batch mode, it reads the commands from the batch file line by line. So basically what happens is, command.com opens the batch file and reads the first line, then it closes the batch file. It then executes the command and again reopens the batch file and reads the next line from it. Batch files are treated as Internal DOS commands.

Important: While creating a batch file, one thing that you need to keep in mind is that the filename of the batch file should not use the same name as a DOS command. For example, if you create a batch file by the name dir.bat and then try to execute it at the prompt, nothing will happen.This is because when command.com comes across a command, it first checks to see
if it is an internal command. If it is not then command.com checks if it a .COM, .EXE or .BAT file with a matching filename.All external DOS commands use either a .COM or a .EXE extension, DOS never bothers to check if the batch program exits.

Now let's move on to your first Batch file program. We will unlike always(Normally we begin with the obligatory Hello World program) first take up a simple batch file which executes or launches a .EXE program. Simply type the following in a blank text file and save it with a .BAT extension.

cd windows

Now let's analyze the code, the first line tells command.com to go to the C: Next it tells it to change the current directory to Windows. The last line tells it to launch the telnet client. You may contradict saying that the full filename is telnet.exe. Yes you are right, but the .exe extension is automatically added by command.com. Normally we do not need to change the drive and the directory as the Windows directory is the default DOS folder. So instead the bath file could simply contain the below and would still work.


Now let's execute this batch file and see what results it shows. Launch command.com (DOS) and execute the batch file by typing:


You would get the following result:


And Scandisk is launched. So now the you know the basic functioning of Batch files, let' move on to Batch file commands.

AbhiShek SinGh
Founder of 'TheHackingArticles'. Cyber Security Analyst, Cyber Security Researcher, and Software Engineer. Follow 'AbhiShek SinGh' on Facebook , Twitter or Google+ or via Email

Subscribe to stay up to date