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Make a USB flash drive bootable

Make a USB flash drive bootable

The easiest guide to a bootable USB flash drive ever

People often inquire how to make a flash drive bootable. There are many tutorials out there, some to greater success than others, but Icrontic is here to give you the definitive answer. All that’s required are two programs, and an arsenal of floppy images that you’ll want to put on the flash drive. When all is said and done, you’ll be able to boot into a spiffy menu that will give you the option to launch any one of the utilities you have selected with the touch of a button. Best of all, your USB key will still be usable in Windows, Linux, or anywhere else you desire.

Necessary applications

The first task is to get all of our utilities installed and ready before we move on. First we’re going to download and install HP’s amazing USB key utility. It formats your drive completely (So make sure any important data is saved!) and installs a very small distribution of Linux, and a boot record so a PC can start your flash drive as it would a hard drive. The small distribution of Linux allows you to launch multiple bootable DOS applications from a single menu, which the HP utility will help you do.

The down side to the HP utility is that it can only add a bootable DOS app to the menu if that application has been installed to a floppy disk already. The utility makes 1:1 image of the contents of the floppy and stores it on your flash drive, so we’ll need a floppy drive of some sort. As most people don’t have a floppy drive to their name, we’ll be using a virtual floppy drive that Windows will identify as it would a normal floppy drive. A utility called “Virtual Floppy Disk” will provide us with this functionality, and will stand in for the clunky real McCoy.

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  1. dennis On page 2 of your instructions for making a bootable USB it says "Save the floppy image to a convenient location,"
    I must be missing something here - how do save the floppy image? Where previous to that instruction is the mention of such an image? Thanks for your time - Dennis
  2. Thrax
    Thrax "Floppy images that we’ll be putting to disk come in one of two ways. Firstly, As .IMG, .IMA or .FLP files."

    You download them. Several common ones are linked at the end of the article.
  3. dennis Thanks for the quick reply !! I bet someone could make out well selling preconfigured bootable flash drives. I noticed globally, some seem to be for sale in China, but after a very brief search, I haven't found any in the U.S. yet. Thanks again. - Dennis
  4. Thrax
    Thrax No problem, Dennis. :) Thanks for stopping by!
  5. kthejoker The value of persistence:

    When I first ran the boot utility against a flash drive with stuff already on it, it wouldn't let me create a "Floppy Image", only the HP firmware flash device.

    So after doing that, I went through these steps one more time, and it let me re-format the drive with the Floppy Image the second time without a hitch.

    Not sure why it balked in the first place, but just FYI if someone is following these instructions and gets flummoxed like I did.
  6. Mark Hi, I'm also trying to boot DFT from a USB drive.
    However no matter how I create it, I always get the "Non System-Disk..." error. The sticks boots fine but the image just won't boot. Also the "bootable" images from the Hitachi download site refuse to boot and return the error.
    Any suggestion?

  7. Thrax
    Thrax It sounds like the DFT images are messed up. You could try using Seagate's SeaTools application instead. SeaTools is a very similar utility that works on all sorts of drives. :)
  8. M But, if i use the tool on my 120GB external drive, only 1.44MB remains... So i can't use the utility to create a bootsector and keep the 120GB for images.
    Is there a solution for that? (With this utilty.)
  9. Ryder
    Ryder No, this is not for external USB hard drives, this is for flash based USB sticks.
  10. M Well... USB sticks can be very large too. 16GB is common now. So, then 15,999 (rounded) will get lost in the process... :S
    I know there are other utlities/methods, which don't require a partition of just 1,44MB... Just can't remember where/how i did that :(.

    And, flashdrive or USB-drive - i don't know why there should be any difference when using modern tools... It's just a different drive letter. Technically, it shouldn't be a problem - by far, most PC's can boot now, from ANY USB-device.
    Well, i think i just have to continue my search - i KNOW it exists :).
  11. Roy I really dont get it :P i've been reading sow many diffrent ways now and none have worked.. an i do not have a floppy drive! :O
  12. don I am also looking to have a usb-drive that looks like a floppy, but is much greater in size. There are floppy images that are greater than 1.44, see here http://bootcd.narod.ru/images_e.htm, but these all include Free-DOS...I want to make a DOS6.22 or IBM DOS version. Anyone know how to create a custom size bootable floppy image, not a bootable image of a hard-drive, it must look like a floppy.
  13. Rakesh Solanki Thanks for this tip, It was great headache for me before read your post. but you solved my problem, thanks again.
  14. CB
    CB The link for 'Virtual Floppy Disk' is borkeded. :(
  15. Thrax
  16. CB
    CB This article might need yet more updating or revisiting.

    The HP app wont install, it has to be extracted.

    It seems to have its own option for creating a virtual floppy disk, so VFD not needed anymore?

    Either way your 'real' steps at the end don't include a reference to VFD, so why did I download it?

    The image I need, DBAN, is an ISO now which this method doesn't seem to handle... It only looks for .img
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  20. sadek i have a G2 usb kingston can i make it bootable with motherboard gigabyte GM41

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