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How to Make a Bootable USB

How to Make a Bootable USB


If the USB you are using has data on it, back up all the data on it before going through this.

Method 1 of 3: Making a USB Drive to Install Any PC Operating System 

Open the Command Prompt. You will need to run Command Prompt as an Administrator. Right-click on it and select Run as Administrator. 

This method will create a USB drive that is bootable. You can then copy the contents of an operating installation disc onto the drive to create a portable installation drive.
This method only works in Windows Vista, 7, and 8.
Open the disk management utility. This can be opened by entering the command diskpart.

Display the connected disks. Type the command list disk to show a list of all the drives connected to your computer. Your USB drive should be listed here as well. Make note of the number next to your USB drive.

Select the USB drive. Enter the command select disk #, replace “#” with the number from the previous step.

Clean the flash drive. Enter the command clean to have the disk management utility verify the integrity of the USB drive, and erase all data.

Create a bootable partition. Once the USB drive is clean, type in create partition primary. You will see a message saying that the operation was successful. 

Select the new partition. Enter the command select partition 1 and press Enter. Once you receive a confirmation message, type active and press Enter. This will activate the partition. 

Format the USB drive. Input the command format fs=fat32. When you press Enter, the program will work for a few minutes (if it is a small USB, e.g. 32Gb could actually take hours to SLOW format), and the progress will be displayed as a percentage.

Assign the USB drive letter. Enter the command assign to give the thumb drive a letter designation. Type exit to end the disk management program.

Copy the operating system. Once the USB drive has been made bootable, you can copy over the installation files for the operating system you want to install. You can do this by dragging and dropping using your preferred file manager/explorer.

Method 2 of 3: Making a Windows Vista or 7 Install Drive

Create or Obtain A Windows Vista/7 ISO. Install a free burning program. There are a number of free burning utilities available online. You need one that can create ISO files. If you received your Windows 7 as a downloadable ISO file from Microsoft, you can skip to Step 2.
Insert your Windows 7 DVD. Open your new burning program. Look for an option such as “Copy to Image” or “Create Image.” If prompted, select your DVD drive as the source.
Save your ISO file. Choose an easy to remember name and location for the file. The ISO you make will be equal in size to the disc you are copying. This means it can take up several gigabytes of space on your hard drive. Be sure you have enough storage available.

Download Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool. This is available for free from Microsoft. Despite its name, this tool works with Windows Vista ISO as well. You can run this tool on virtually any version of Windows.

Select the Source file. This is the ISO that you created or downloaded in the first section. Click Next.

Select USB device. You are given the option to either burn to a DVD or create a USB device. For this guide, click USB Device.

Choose your USB device. Make sure that your flash drive is connected correctly. You will need at least 4GB space on your flash drive to copy over the Windows installation.

Wait while program works. The program will format the USB drive to boot correctly, then copy the ISO file onto the drive. The copying process can take up to 15 minutes to complete, depending on the speed of your machine.

Method 3 of 3: Making a Windows XP Install Drive
Gather your software and hardware. You will need USB_Prep8 and bootsect.exe. These are developer tools both freely available online. You will also need a flash drive at least 1GB in size, and a Windows XP installation CD or DVD.
Insert the USB drive and the Windows XP disc. Close any Autoplay windows that open.
Extract and run USB_Prep8. Once you extract the USB_Prep8 .zip file, open the folder it creates and run usb_prep8.cmd. This will open a command prompt. Press any key to format the USB drive with PeToUSB. Note: In Windows 7, you will need to open a cmd as administrator and run usb_prop8.cmd from prompt, otherwise nothing works.

Start the format. Do not change any of the settings in the PeToUSB window. Once the format is complete, leave both windows open and start a new command prompt by pressing Windows key + R and typing “cmd” into the field. 
Extract bootsect. Once it is extracted, navigate to the bootsect folder using the new command window. Once you are in the bootsect directory on your computer, type “bootsect.exe /nt52 Z:”. Change the “Z” to the drive letter of your USB drive.
You cannot have any windows open showing the contents of the USB drive at this point, or the operation will fail and you will need to restart
Bootsect copies the files necessary to allow your computer to boot from the flash drive. When it is complete you will see the message “Bootcode was successfully updated on all targeted volumes.” You can close this window and PeToUSB now, but keep the usb_prep8 command window open.

Adjust the Prep8 settings. Once the bootsect is done copying, the usb_prep8 command window will display a numbered menu allowing you to change some settings. You will need to change the first 3 settings:
  1. Press 1 and then Enter. A Browse for Folder window will open. Select the drive that contains your Windows XP disc and press OK.
  2. Press 2 and then Enter. If you have a drive on your computer that is already assigned to the letter T:, then change this option to a free letter. Otherwise, you can leave this as is.
  3. Press 3 and then Enter. Enter the drive letter for your USB flash drive.
Start the copy process. To do this, press 4 and then Enter. You will be notified that proceeding will format the virtual disk from the earlier menu. Press Y to continue. Once the format is complete, press any key to continue. Files will scroll up the screen as the copy process progresses. You will be prompted to press any key to continue again. After a few moments, a window will open confirming that you want to copy TempDrive Files. Press Yes, and wait around 15 minutes, then press Yes for the next two windows that open.

Begin Windows XP setup. At this point the USB drive is complete. Insert it into the computer that you want to install Windows XP on. You will need to set the BIOS to boot from a USB drive.
When the startup menu opens, select Option 1 for a text mode installation. The Windows XP installation will now begin as normal.
After the computer reboots after the text mode portion, select Option 2 to start the GUI (Graphical User Interface) portion of the installation.
Keep your USB drive plugged in during the entire installation process.


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