How to Make a bootable USB drive

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How to Make a bootable USB drive

In past days, MS Windows operating system was installed by using a disc, CD,DVD or the floppy disc and optical data carriers are also gradually disappearing from the scene which were used to install windows in computer. Instead, the OS is either preinstalled on the system partition of a computer desktop machine or laptop, or you acquire Windows OS directly from internet, complete with a digital license, and download it yourself from the internet.

But if you need an external installation medium instead of online, many people these days use a bootable USB(pendrive). It’s fast and more compact way to do a fresh window installation or upgrading a OS in laptop or Desktop.We will talk about thr different ways to make a USB device bootable and why do you need a bootable USB in this article.

Why you need a bootable USB for OS installation ?

There are lots of uses and advantages for a bootable USB drive. The first and top most important is, booting the computer if it will no longer be able to start itself because of a virus, serious system failure, hard disk failure,defective hard drive, or partition problems or any other issues.So the first option to recover your computer from these issues is to reinstall the operating system and successfully reboot and repair the computer machine.

Even if no such PC emergency is present, it’s a always a better idea to have a backup on usb as an image file so that in case if something happens with your computer,you can easily restore your data.

You can also use a bootable USB to upgrade older versions of Windows like 7 or 8 to newer versions or latest version of Windows like OS 10 if a previously automatic upgrade doesn’t function correctly. Whenever you feel that your operating system is slow due to some garbage data then also you can think off to install a fresh version of windows to make your computer faster.

Experienced computer experts and information technology professionals also would like to use a bootable USB as a “portable OS” (the concept is called as “Windows2Go” for Microsoft OS). With this feature, you can use your preferred version of window operating system with all your favorite tools and personal data on a different computer which you don’t owns without having to fuss with the operating system already installed in it (regardless of whether it’s Windows,Linux,Unix,Ubuntu or something else). This way, you can not only navigate in your desired work environment but also get access of all of your important documents and files via the cloud. A portable operating system also offers more security in case you are doing some work in other computer which is having virus or malware which can stole your data.

Here are the list of all possible uses for a bootable USB drive:

  1. Boot after a PC emergency if your window crashed unfortunately.
  2. Use a recovery system by installing it to USB to repair your PC
  3. Store an image of the operating system so that you can install it in case of emergency.
  4. Upgrade an older version of operating system to Windows 10 or to the latest one.
  5. “Clean” reinstallation of the operating system without having access to internet or CD DVD.
  6. Use a “portal operating system” on a foreign computer so that you can use that without having access to the computer.

How to make a bootable USB drive?

A bootable USB drive , you can make on a other computer than the one you want to use it on later. There are basically two possible way to do that: 

  1. Manually 
  2. By using automated tools.

The first way of making a USB bootable seems a bit complicated at first glance, and because it involves various manual steps who are slightly more error-prone, but it’s still not a difficult task and you can do it even if you’re not an expert.

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Regardless of which method you opt, you always need to follow the below steps:

  1. The default utility program DiskPart by window OS or an external tool with same functionality.
  2. You need to have a USB drive with at least 4GB of storage (for a 32-bit OS) or at least 8GB (for a 64-bit operating system). To get a high working speed (or enable the creation of a portable OS), the selected USB drive should be of standard USB 3.0. If the USB is already being used, make sure that it doesn’t store any other important data.
  3. An ISO file for the required operating system that contains all setup files that you need for the operating system installation. These files used to be found on a CD- or DVD-ROM of windows, which should have come with a new computer or could be acquired separately from the market or you can directly download it from the internet. Today, Windows OS is generally pre loaded on a system partition of a matching desktop or laptop. You can make an ISO file yourself, though, for example with the use of softwares like WinISO, UltraISO, or the burn program InfraRecorder or Nero. But it’s easy and quick to just download the required operating system from the internet. In the case of Windows 10 operating system of Microsoft,this can be done completely legally via the media creation tool from Microsoft. Downloading directly from the Microsofts website is also possible and one click away for Windows 7 and Windows 8, for example.

After the download ,Start the Microsoft media creation tool, and you need to click on the option “Create installation media for another PC”

For the media to use, please click on “ISO file”. You can make a bootable USB drive for Windows 10 operating system directly in the media creation tools.

The tool automatically downloads an ISO file of operating system from Windows 10. This process can take few mins to complete , since the image is several gigabytes large and will takes time in processing.

You have your image file ready now and now You have the option to burn the downloaded ISO file to a DVD. But you could simply click the “Finish” button instead and your device is ready to boot.

Create a bootable USB drive with the Windows utility program DiskPart

If you want to create a USB bootable drive by using window CMD by entering some command manually then you just need to follow the below steps and you all set to go.

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Steps are as follows:

  • Plug the USB drive into your computer’s USB port so that it can show in computer.
  • Search for the “cmd” or command prompt application in the Windows start menu, right-click on cmd, and select “Run as administrator” from the menu appears on your screen. This will open a small window with white text on a black background and that actually is a Command Prompt and i am sure you already aware of this.
  • Now what you need to do is,Type the command “diskpart” and hit enter key (you’ll also do this after every other entered command). This starts the storage device manager.
  • Now Enter the command “list disk” to show all the available storage devices.
  • You need to recognize your USB by its storage capacity or its name, it’s usually listed as “disk 1”. In the system partition, “disk 0” is usually your PC hard drives.
  • Now Based on the assumption that your USB has the label “disk 1”, you need to select your own drive and make the changes accordingly,enter the command “sel disk 1” to select it (or the corresponding “disk 2”, etc.).
  • Enter the command “clean” which will delete all files from the USB and will make it empty.
  • Now enter the command “create partition primary” to create a main partition in USB.
  • Now please enter the command “list par” and select the newly created main partition with “sel par 1”.
  • Activate the partition with the command by typing “active”.
  • Next step is Format the USB with the command “format fs=FAT32 label=“WINDOWSUSB” quick override” (in place of “WINDOWS USB” you can also choose another label whichever you want, but it should not contain any spaces or special characters. The drive will later be displayed under the same name which you labeled here if you plug into a running Windows computer). Formatting may take some time to proceed. You can track its progress in the percentage bar showing on the screen.
  • As soon as the process is finished, enter the command “assign” to automatically assign a drive letter (for example “G:”) to your USB, Your USB has assigned a letter now for example “G:”.
  • Enter “exit” to close DiskPart, and then “exit” again to close the command prompt and you are good to go with the bootable USB.

In order to start the “Command Prompt” on your desktop or laptop , simply enter “cmd” in the Windows search bar. double click when it appears and Don’t forget to right-click to run the application as an administrator. 

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Final step to finish the process, you just need to copy the Windows OS ISO file to a bootable USB stick. This is done with a basic drag-and-drop or you can also use copy and paste. If you’re using an installation DVD or CD disc, you can also drag all setup files from there onto your USB drive (use the folder options to display all of the hidden files first For this you need to go to view and then folder options and then check show hidden files option). That’s also you can do with command prompt. Example is : For a source media with the drive letter “D:” and a USB drive with the letter “G:”, the corresponding command will look like as follows: “xcopy D:\*.* G:\*.* /S /E /F” (all of the spaces are necessary and please do not change the command if you want to use it)

Create a bootable USB with external tools available on internet.

The media creation tool from Microsoft mentioned previously can also write a downloaded image file of window or ISO file to a USB drive or in a CD DVD in one go, and so create a bootable USB – but it only works with Windows 10 , it will not work with older versions of operating systems. There are many freeware software available that suits all operating systems (including Linux) that can take over the tasks of the otherwise manual device management as these tools are automatic and you do not need to run command for them. Some of the most popular USB bootable maker tools are Rufus, WinUSB, and UNetbootin. All of these softwares are made up of a single very small file that you can download directly from the internet and start without installation.

Make Bootable USB with Rufus

Rufus is widely considered to be the fastest and most reliable and useful tool to make the bootable USB. It also supports “Unified Extensible Firmware Interface”, a new latest mainboard firmware that replaced the old BIOS of computer and can already be seen on almost all the new computers available in the market. From launch of Windows 8, it’s also possible to install “Windows2Go” as a portable operating system on an external storage device like hard disk drive, USB etc with Rufus.

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Operation of this software program is simple, Please see below:

  • Open the application with a double-click on it.
  • Select your USB drive in “Device” option.
  • Now click on the  “Create a bootable disk using” and then click on the option “ISO Image”
  • Right-click on the CD-ROM symbol, some menu would appear from them please select the ISO file
  • Under “New volume label”, which is for your USB drive, you can enter whatever name you like for your USB drive
  • Once you proceed with above steps, You’ll receive the warning “ALL DATA ON THIS DEVICE WILL BE DESTROYED”, which you can confidently confirm by clicking on “OK”
  • Now Click on “Start” to start the process.
  • As soon as the green bar is full which means processing completed, then click on “Finish”
  • Eject your bootable USB drive with “Safely eject hardware” and your USB is convert into a bootable device ,you can use it anywhere you would like to use.

Create a bootable USB with WinUSB

The software WinUSB essentially functions exactly like Rufus does, but there are two main differences: 

The first is that you do not need to format the usb drive to make it bootable , it means this tool only needs enough space to install the window files in it rest you can store your document or your important data in it. 

Another special feature which is outstanding is: WinUSB can also write many different Windows operating systems onto the same drive , that means you can write different versions of window into a single drive and can install the window version whichever you need. This tool is almost equivalent to the Linux tool Yumi, which works the same way it does.

In order to create a USB from this tool , you need to follow below steps:

  • Plug the USB to computer and open WinUSB tool and then Select your USB with “Plug and select the USB drive”
  • Please Right-click on “ISO” under “Add Windows”, and then on “Next” to proceed to next step.
  • Enter whatever label,you can select any name for your USB drive, then click on “OK” and “Next”
  • Click on “Start” to start the Bootable USB creation process.

Make a bootable USB drive with UNetbootin

Like the popular application software program Universal USB Installer, UNetbootin (short for “Universal Netboot Installer”) is actually designed for Linux operating systems. It’s primarily used is to install various Linux distributions – such as Ubuntu or Redhat etc– on a USB external drive so that they can be started directly from the storage media without disturbing the current operating system running on the machine.

However UNetbootin tools is also works well with Windows:

  • Plug the USB drive to the computer and open the UNetbootin tool then Click on the menu item “Image” – “ISO” is already selected as the source. Proceed to next step.
  • Select your USB drive which is under “Drive” and then click “OK” to proceed further.
  • Now click on the “Start” to start the process of creation of bootable USB drive.

How to start Windows OS with a bootable USB

After USB successful created as bootable disk, you can test it by using it to start your desktop or laptop.

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To test this in your machine, you need to change the boot order in the boot menu of your machine :

  • For doing this ,Open your computer’s boot menu. Depending on the different mainboard manufacturer, this can be different in each computer,Usually this is done by pressing a different key on the keyboard. “Del” is the one button which is most commonly used , but other keys like  “F1”, “F2”, “F8”, or “F10” can also be used for this function (though rarely any others but possibilities are always there). Which button you have to press is usually displayed on the screen as soon as the manufacturer logo appears on your screen. But keep in mind: You would be having a short window of time to press the right button on right time. If you miss to press it , then you’ll have to restart your PC and try again to get the boot screen.
  • If you bought a newer PC recently ,then  it’s possible that UEFI is installed instead of BIOS as firmware. If this is the case then no menu would appear on the monitor display screen. Instead, you need to follow certain steps given as follows: You need to Click on “Update and recovery” under “System settings”. After this click on “Recovery” and under “Extended start” please select “Restart now”. Post this button, The computer will be restarted. On the following screen, you need to click on “Troubleshooting”, then “Extended options” and finally you have to click on “UEFI firmware settings” to get to the UEFI and this you can start the booting process.
  • BIOS and UEFI both can look different to each other,depending on the computer model and also can have different names for the individual menu items which are usually shown on screen when you start you computer . you Don’t need to confused by this, because– the structure is basically the same for both of these.
  • With the arrow keys on the keyboard, navigate through the BIOS/UEFI. Go to the “Boot” tab (this might also be called “Boot menu”, “Boot manager”, or something similar in different devices).
  • Then from that menu, you can select your USB drive so the next system startup will boot from it, it will automatically set to CD DVD drive by default.
  • You can also permanently change the boot order if you want to do it so, by pushing the [Image↑] or [Image↓] keys to change the order of the boot drives. Select your USB drive and Set it on the top of the list to start from it as soon as it’s plugged into your computer.
  • Press the [Esc] key to leave BIOS/UEFI and get out of that screen.

After a successful boot process and follow above instructions , you still need to set up your OS on the USB drive. This means that: Run the Windows operating system setup, establish the internet connection(wi fi or LAN), and download and install all necessary drivers from the internet,also you can update the softwares after installing them.

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