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How to Make a Bootable Flash Drive

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Written by Daryl J.   

How to Make a Bootable Flash Drive

If you are a technician you know having a bootable medium is a must when you are making a call to troubleshoot a computer. The bootable medium can be a floppy (not used very much today), an external hard drive, a CD, or a flash drive (sometimes called a jumpdrive). Of the group, the flashdrive is the most convenient to carry and the least fragile. Therefore this article will show you how to make a flash drive bootable.

1. Selecting the right flash drive is essential. Flash drives come in sizes of 128M, 256M, 512M, 1G, 2G, 4G, 8G, 16G, and 32G. In order to have a bootabe flash drive you need at least 1G but may want one of the larger ones because along with the operating system being on the flash drive, you will probably want some of your favorite diagnostic software on there also.

2. It is important to select the right burning utility. Not all burners work with flash drive. I have found Active @ Boot Disk useful. But you can search for another by searching on your favorite search site.

3. Select the right image file. There are many different type of image files. Some are for DOS-based systems; some are for Windows-based systems; some are Mac-based systems; and, some are for Linux/Unix based systems. also note that some images are meant to be demos of the operating system and others are meant to be recovery tools. All are LiveUSB images. That basically means that the operating system is self contained on that flash drive. Read up on the image before you select it.

4. Burn the image to the flash drive.

5. Add any additional files to the flash drive that you will find useful, like disk utilities.

You now have a bootable flashdrive. I would say that a good tech would have a bootable flash drive for Windows-based, DOS-based and Linux-based operating systems.

To test the flash drive you need to:

1. Plug it into a usb port of a computer that allows booting from a flash drive.

2. Restart your computer and go into the BIOS Setup Area and ensure that USB-flash drive is placed above the hard disk. Or else the hard disk will boot first. Press to save any changes you made and exit.

If all ahs gone well your computer should have booted from the flash drive.


Note: If you have the Windows install disk and your computer can recognize the flash drive at bootup you can use            the Windows install disk to place Windows in the flash drive. If you use Linux the same can be done.


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