How to make a bootable flash drive: step by step instructions

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How to make a bootable flash drive: step by step instructions
How to make a bootable flash drive: step by step instructions

Removable USB-drives in the form of the most common flash drives are clearly replacing optical CD / DVD discs from the market. It is not surprising, because the latter are subject to too strong physical impact. Therefore, it is very often necessary to install or restore Windows operating systems from distributions recorded specifically on USB devices. How to make a bootable USB flash drive for Windows 7 or any other system modification using several of the most common methods will be described in as much detail as possible. In conclusion, some practical recommendations will be given on the use of a particular method for different situations.

Bootable flash drive. What is it and what is it for?

Considering the basic questions about how to make a bootable USB flash drive, let's start with an understanding of what such bootable media may be needed for, and what information can be stored on it. As we have already said, the main purpose of a bootable USB flash drive can be calledinstalling or restoring the system if it does not start from the hard disk. At the same time, it is the installation distribution kit that can be written to the media for both installation and rollback (it also has recovery tools). Only for recovery can be used special tools equipped with bootloaders that do not have OS installation tools.

Among users who are ignorant of these issues, there is sometimes an erroneous opinion that, they say, it is enough just to copy the necessary image files to the media, and that's it. Alas, with a simple transfer of files, the flash drive, whatever one may say, will not become bootable (except for one option, which will be described separately). In other words, in order to be able to start from the created media, it is necessary that special boot files and boot sectors are present on it.

Contents of the bootable flash drive
Contents of the bootable flash drive

Please note that when creating such media (say, for installing Windows 10), the flash drive will necessarily contain an autorun file (autorun.inf) and bootloader files (bootmgr and bootmgr.efi) designed to select the boot device in primary BIOS / UEFI systems and installation of modifications with different architectures (x86 / x64).

However, these are not all situations where you may need this type of bootable media. So, for example, if anyone remembers when a free upgrade of Windows systems of the seventh and eighth versions was announced, only system update files could be written to a USB flash drive using the MST program, designed for thoseusers who did not want to wait in line for the official update online.

Kaspersky Rescue Disk
Kaspersky Rescue Disk

No less common are situations with anti-virus software like Kaspersky Rescue Disk, which, due to the built-in bootloader, allows you to start even before Windows starts loading and scan your computer or laptop for all kinds of threats, including detection of those virus applets, which can take root even in RAM, and not just on a hard drive, in boot or hidden areas of a conventional hard drive or SSD.

How to make a bootable Windows flash drive. Key Actions

Now a few words about what methods can be used to create bootable media of this type. There are not many of them, but using any of them, apart from the actions with the command line, which is so disliked by ordinary users, looks very simple.

And these methods are:

  • downloading the distribution using the MST utility;
  • direct copy of setup and bootloader files;
  • use pre-made ISO images or other formats;
  • using the command console with the toolkit of the diskpart utility built into the system;
  • creating a bootable flash drive using third-party programs.

Using the Windows 10 Upgrade Utility (Media creation Tool)

So, for starters, let's look at one of the simplest methods and focus on how to make a bootableflash drive for Windows 10. As you already know, we need a small utility, abbreviated as MST. You can download it directly from the official Microsoft Internet resource or from the technical support site. How to make a bootable USB flash drive for the 10th version of the system? Easy peasy! The program is presented as a single executable file, after launching which (mandatory on behalf of the administrator) an initial window will appear with a choice of action. You should not use the upgrade item, namely the creation of bootable media.

Creating a bootable USB flash drive in the Media Creation Tool
Creating a bootable USB flash drive in the Media Creation Tool

After that, you can leave the window of recommended parameters untouched and go to the media type selection, where the USB device is marked. Next, the continue button is pressed, after which formatting starts (if something was written on the device) and copying the installation files to the selected device.

Note: You must have an active Internet connection to download and save Windows setup files. The download time directly depends on the connection speed and the recording parameters on the selected drive.

How to make a bootable USB flash drive from an ISO image with direct file copying?

In some cases, if you have a ready-made image of the installed version of the system, you can do much easier. And it is not necessary to use any third-party programs to work with ISO files or other formats of this type. The proposed solution can only be used if the primary I / O system on a computer or laptopuses UEFI, not legacy BIOS.

How to make a bootable flash drive for the 7th version of the operating system? To do this, you need a USB drive with a capacity of about 6 GB, formatted in FAT32 (NTFS cannot be used, since the primary UEFI system on bootable media does not recognize this file system).

WinRAR archiver
WinRAR archiver

An existing image file, even if some program for automatic launch and processing is associated with it, you need to open it using the RMB menu using any existing application for working with archives (for example, WinRAR even in the form of a portable version) and unpack the files to any convenient place on the disk, and then copy them to a USB drive. It is not recommended to unpack the image directly to a USB flash drive, as unexpected failures may occur during the direct data transfer process, and information may be corrupted.

Command line tool

Now let's see how to make a bootable USB flash drive with an XP version of the system and above using the diskpart tool, which, so to speak, is "hardwired" into Windows and can be used exclusively from the command console. The command line itself must be launched with administrator rights (for Windows 7 and higher).

Create bootable flash drive via command line
Create bootable flash drive via command line

The above commands should be executed one by one in the console, after which the selected media will become bootable. The description of each action to the ordinary user, in principle, is not necessary. It is enough just to enter all the lines inin the order indicated, but pay special attention to the choice of your carrier, indicated by the corresponding letter or number (in reality, these values \u200b\u200bmay differ from those given in the example above). If you get lost in the numbers of disks and partitions, you can identify your drive by the size indicated to the right of its number.

Rufus Beginner Program

One of the easiest solutions to make a bootable flash drive for any modifications of Windows is to use a small but quite functional Rufus program, which is fine for most novice users who are not particularly familiar with the intricacies of the actions to be performed.

Rufus Program
Rufus Program

In the application itself, you just need to select your drive, if there are several connected, the type of boot partition (MBR is recommended for UEFI and BIOS), in the type of recording method, set the creation of a disk from an image and specify the path to the one saved on the hard disk file. Other parameters, including even formatting, can be left unchanged. The entire process of writing files to a flash drive can take five to ten minutes on average.

UltraISO package and similar

Now let's try to figure out how to make a bootable USB flash drive in UltraISO. As you can already understand from the name of the application, it is designed specifically for working with images, and the ISO format is used in the program by default, although the utility can work with all other common types of images.

So, how to make a bootable USB flash drive from an ISO image? By itselfof course, we need the system image itself, which must first be opened through the appropriate file menu command.

UltraISO program
UltraISO program

Then you should go to the boot menu, which is located on the main panel at the top, select the option to burn a hard disk image, then specify your drive in the Disk Drive field and set the recording method to HDD+USB. After setting all the parameters, it remains to confirm your actions and wait for the process of creating bootable media to finish.

USB/DVD Download Tool App

Before us is another rather interesting program. Let's see how to make a bootable USB flash drive for Windows 7 or other system versions using it. In general, there is nothing particularly complicated in the application, since the principles of operation of this software product are not much different from most similar utilities.

USB/DVD Download Tool
USB/DVD Download Tool

All use of the program comes down to four steps:

  • select image file;
  • select USB device;
  • cleaning the drive and deleting information (warnings will need to be agreed twice).

After the process is completed, the program will display a corresponding message that the bootable media has been successfully created.

Creating a multiboot flash drive using the WinSetupFromUSB applet

Finally, let's see how to make a bootable flash drive using the above applet. This program, according to many experts, is one of the most powerful, because it is able to createmultiboot media on which distributions of different systems can be recorded, and the list of supported operating systems includes not only all modifications of Windows, but also versions of Linux. The program allows you to make a bootable USB flash drive, as they say, in a jiffy.

WinSetupFromUSB program
WinSetupFromUSB program

The user, as usual, needs to select his device, set the parameters of the distributions to be recorded with the location of the saved images, agree with the formatting and activate the start of the creation of the boot device. But in this application, if you use additional options, you can use a special QEMU testing tool to control the result. Its activation will only lead to the fact that after the distributions are written to the USB drive, the program will automatically check for their integrity and possible errors that could occur during the creation of a bootable flash drive.

A few last tips

How to make a bootable flash drive through the Command Prompt console (command line) or using the most popular utilities, in theory, is already clear. It remains to give a few practical tips that will be useful to novice users.

First and most importantly, the created boot device must be set first in the boot priority in the BIOS / UEFI settings before use. At the same time, when entering the settings of the primary systems, the USB flash drive must be inserted into the appropriate port even before the computer or laptop is turned on. Otherwise, she may notdecide.

If you can't boot from a USB device when your computer has UEFI primary I/O systems, look in the device settings. Usually, the desired flash drive can be assigned two attributes there. One device shows up as USB Flash MBR and the other shows up as USB Flash EFI. To fix the problem, simply change one device to another in the boot sequence, save the changes and restart.

Only one question remains unresolved, undoubtedly of concern to the vast majority of users of all levels of training, related to which of the described methods is best to use, and how to make a bootable flash drive as quickly and easily as possible? Frankly speaking, it is rather difficult to advise one thing. But, if you approach this issue from a practical point of view, the use of narrowly focused programs designed specifically for creating bootable USB devices looks the easiest. True, sometimes there may be problems with formatting, since some applications do not provide users with the right to choose a file system, immediately using NTFS. In the case of UEFI primary systems, such devices are not detected. Therefore, in such a situation, it is better to format it yourself in advance by choosing FAT32 as the file system.

After completing all the processes related to the preparation of the media and the subsequent recording of the necessary information on it, as a control shot, so to speak, do not be too lazy to check the removable device for possible errors usingfor this, at least Windows tools, if such a function is not available in the programs used. Pay special attention to the fact that when formatted in FAT32, the recorded distributions should not contain files larger than 4 GB, since volumes above this limit are not recognized by this file system on removable drives. As a result, you will not be able to launch the distribution kit when starting from the device, or the installation of the system will be interrupted at a certain stage due to the alleged absence of the components necessary for its continuation.

It is worth mentioning separately that, despite the presence of a huge number of specialized programs that allow the processes of creating bootable drives to be simplified as much as possible, the use of the diskpart tool still looks the most acceptable, since it is in this case that errors and failures are completely excluded. As already mentioned, many ordinary users do not like the command line, but meanwhile, if you master the basic basics of working with it, you can later use the console to fix even critical problems when Windows does not work (does not load) or constantly gives errors during operation and failures that are almost impossible to eliminate by conventional methods (for example, using recovery or starting in safe mode).

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