Sunday, July 7, 2013

How to create a bootable USB drive?

Bootable USB drives are necessary to run setup files of bootable applications where there is no option for CD or DVD RW or, no available CD/DVD for the application. As such bootable USB drive is the mean for anyone to carry their favorite operating system(OS) or, any bootable application out of the CD/DVD they come with. In here I will primarily try to describe how to make a bootable USB drive ready for any OS or, application(any .ISO file) through Windows(Vista or, later) environment. It can therefore be easily used to create your copy of Windows 7 USB drive which was asked few days before here - LINK. So if you want to know how to create Windows 7 bootable USB drive or, Windows 8, Vista, Ubuntu or, any other OS/application just read it through with some patience.

how to create bootable USB drive at .NeXT

Some FAQs:

1. Windows XP/NT/2000: Windows XP or, older users can't follow this procedure as their system doesn't recognize the USB drive as a Disk. The Windows XP OS can't be made portable with this procedure either. Windows XP requires additional application support to be made into a USB bootable OS. I will describe that procedure if people ask me nicely.

2. There are multiple applications available to download both freeware and shareware to create bootable USB drives. The problem is for Windows OS that they doesn't necessarily create the drive successfully every time. There is a Microsoft distributed application named "Windows 7 USB/DVD download tool" from this link(HERE) to do the job with apparent ease. Just install the application and follow through(works with Windows 8/Windows7 and works on Windows XP or later). But with a UEFI system as there is no NTFS support you must stick with the process I am describing here under.

3. Why do we need to make an USB bootable drive? Simple, because you don't have other options when your Netbook doesn't come with a RW or, your working RW stops working or, because you want the installation procedure go faster.

  • A computer with Windows OS and USB port. Preferable Windows XP or newer OS and USB 2 or USB 3 ports for faster results.
  • A USB drive with 4GB or lower available space according to your application size. The USB drive is better should be backed up before starting the process. The process will clean the drive and as such it takes pretty long time doing that. So smaller drives will do the job quicker for you.(Note: Windows 7 installers are above 3GB in size, so choose wisely)
  • No RAM or processor requirements, but they will make the process faster or slower accordingly.

Important: To boot a computer from your bootable device you must change the boot sequence inside your BIOS while your USB drive is attached to your machine. You must make it the first boot device. For UEFI systems you should disable "Attempt Secure Boot" before the installation from USB and then re-enable it after installation done.

Step 1:

Open the command prompt as Administrator. In Windows 7 machine you may just click "start" button and type "cmd"(without quotes) to get the application listed. Just right click on it and select "Run as Administrator".

open Command prompt at .NeXT

In case if you don't see "C:\Windows\system32" in the very beginning, then just type "cd c:\windows\system32"(without quotes) and hit enter.

Step 2:

Type "diskpart"(without quotes) inside the command prompt. Hit "enter" button of your keyboard. Running DISKPART will display the version of DISKPART you are running and the name of your PC.

diskpart at .NeXT

Step 3:

Type "list disk"(without quotes) and press "enter". You will get the bootable drives on your machine listed.

list disk at .NeXT

Check for the sizes of drives listed there. You should realize what disk number is your USB drive and remember it. Mine is "Disk 3". Usually the USB drive will be the last one.

Step 4:

Type "select disk #"(without quotes) where "#" need to replaced with your own USB drive disk number. In my case I used "3".

select USB drive at .NeXT

Step 5:

The next step is all about cleaning the USB drive. So type "clean"(without quotes) and press "enter".

command clean at .NeXT

Step 6:

Now we will be preparing the drive for files and make it bootable. Type "create partition primary"(without quotes) and press "enter".

create partition primary at .NeXT

Step 7:

Now choose the partition by typing "select partition 1"(without quotes) and press "enter". Type "active"(without quotes) and press "enter" to make it active.

select and active at .NeXT

Step 8:

Format the drive by entering "format fs=fat32"(without quotes).**

format USB drive at .NeXT

Step 9:

The format should take a while depending on the size of the drive and your system configuration. When done type "assign"(without quotes) and hit "enter". The "autoplay" widow will appear for the USB drive. Remember the USB drive letter(if autoplay is turned off in your machine, then just go into "Computer" and check the drive letter).

assigning drive letter at .NeXT

Step 10:

Exit the DISKPART by type and entering "exit".

Step 11:

Copy entire content of your DVD/CD entirely to the USB drive. If there is a .ISO file, then just extract it into the USB drive by using WinRAR or similar program. You are done.

** Now for Windows OS(Vista or, Later) you should go with NTFS(format fs=NTFS) in "step 8"(if not using a UEFI system). But as we are considering other options too, we will do it with FAT32. In case you wish to do so insert your Windows 7/Vista DVD into your RW and open another command prompt as "Step 1". Type "cd x:\boot"(without quotes) where "x" to be replaced with your RW drive letter and press "enter". Then type "BOOTSECT.EXE/NT60 Y:"(without quotes) where "Y" indicates your USB drive letter and press "enter". Exit the command prompt and follow the rest of the procedure.

That is it. Your USB drive is ready by following some simple steps and you should be good to go with your pocket version of OS or any application of your choice. Do share your input/s about anything you see fit/unfit or to be appreciated about the topic.

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