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Create a bootable USB flash drive

usb drive bootable create

3 replies to this topic

#1 marko

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    Posted 22 February 2012 - 05:55 PM

    I had initially intended on including details of BIOS flashing and/or virus scanning at DOS level, but with so many vendors now integrating and releasing their own versions and downloads it's became a task in itself trying to source portable antivirus working at DOS level. As for BIOS flashing, this is still generally a case of extracting the "exe" file and BIOS "flash" file, sticking them on a bootable USB and calling them from DOS, but again, most BIOS manufacturers now release their own BIOS flash disks.

    So, instead, I'm hopefully going to explain how to build a couple of useful bootable USB images which could get your machine up and running in the event of a breakdown - or at least, up and running to a point where you can run a variety of test's, etc.

    There are a whole variety of ways to create a bootable USB disk, but for our purposes in this little ditty we'll be looking at 2 methods - the first, creating the Ultimate Boot Disc version for the USB pen and the second creating just a simple USB DOS boot disc.

    Ultimate Boot Disc
    You may have heard of the Ultimate Boot Disc, which has been a favourite of many technicians for a number of years - normally (and often preferably), it's just a matter of downloading the ISO image and burning to a CD and the jobs done. However, if you wanted to add something or update an app on your disc, on a CD it would obviously mean reburning the entire thing with the new definitions - with a USB it's simply a matter of downloading the updates and whack them on the USB stick!!.

    OK, first things first, download The Ultimate Boot Disc from us HERE - then once you have downloaded it, you'll need to extract it using some form of ISO extractor such as IZArc. Once you have the files extracted, you should have a folder which looks like this:

    Attached Image: 22-02-2012 16-48-57.png

    Now what we need to do is insert our USB pen. Remember, this procedure will format and clear anything you have on the pen. Open a command prompt and run as an administrator (Vista/7) - you would do this by hitting the Windows/Start button, searching for "cmd" (without the quotes) and then 'right-click' on 'cmd.exe' then 'run as administrator'.

    When the DOS box opens up, type "cd\" into the box to revert the prompt back to the C: drive. I extracted our image to C:\ubcd511 - and my USB drive letter is E: so at the command prompt I would type the following:


    cd ubcd511\ubcd\tools\win32\ubcd2usb

    Then I would type:


    c:\ubcd511 e: /f
    (note the "/f" at the end is just to format the USB pen - you can leave this out if you wish)

    Here's the screenshot:

    Attached Image: 22-02-2012 17-40-57.png

    So, there we have it ... a fully functional, working copy of the Ultimate Boot CD on a USB pen - all we need to do now is make sure the BIOS is set to boot from USB or we at least know how to access the boot menu at startup. Obviously, not all motherboards will support booting from USB, the older the machine then the less chance you will have this as an option and will, instead you will have to opt for the CD version.

    Simple USB DOS boot disc
    There are times when you don't need all the bells and whistles that a utility like the UBCD will offer, and instead you just want to boot up to a DOS prompt. In that case here's a quick method of getting a simple USB DOS boot disc.

    Download the following 2 files: HPUSBformattool and win98boot and extract them both.
    Insert your USB pen into a spare USB slot and then open the file "HPUSBFW.EXE" which was in the zip file "HPUSBformattool.zip". You'll need to run this file as an administrator.

    Attached Image: 22-02-2012 17-54-41.png

    Select the options as shown in the screenshot above and for "using DOS system files located at" browse to the "win98boot" folder and select that.

    Click "Start" and let the program create your boot disk. As an added option, copy the entire contents of the "win98boot" folder to the root of the USB pen which will then give you a few basic tools whilst in DOS such as FDISK.EXE, CLEARHDD.EXE, MSCDEX.EXE, etc.

    Give you're newly created bootable USB pen a try - if it doesn't work first off, check your BIOS settings and make sure your set to boot from USB - remember, the older the motherboard/machine, the less likely you will have this option available to you and as such you'll need to revert to using a CD for your boot disc :).

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    #2 James (Jim) Hillier

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      Posted 22 February 2012 - 08:31 PM

      Brilliant!! Thanks Marko.
      Jim Hillier - Managing editor Daves Computer Tips.com

      #3 Claw

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        Posted 22 February 2012 - 09:11 PM

        I second that,Jim.

        #4 C0ldf1re

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          Posted 22 February 2012 - 09:36 PM

          If you would like a pendrive that boots into Linux, UNetBootIn from http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/ creates a Linux bootable USB pendrive. (Everything from sourceforge is free and open source.)
          Henry Fielding once said that a rich man without charity is a rogue; and perhaps it would be no difficult matter to prove that he is also a fool.

          Live fast. Die young. Leave a beautiful body of code.

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