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[FREE] Tools for USB Booting

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What is a bootable USB?

A Bootable USB or USB booting is the process of using an external USB drive to load a computer operating system. A common use for this is troubleshooting a faulty or virus ridden machine, You could also boot into other operating systems such as OpenElec for Media Streaming or Lakka for an old school gaming experience. Some of these apps are more powerful than others. While some will do a-bit-for-bit copy, others create a full ISO of your running system. Some are Windows specific and others don’t care what platform you’re running. In the end, what’s important is that you use the tool that best suits your skills and needs.

You can download one of the tools below for imaging:

Rufus

Rufus is a utility that helps format and create bootable USB flash drives, such as USB keys/pen-drives, memory sticks, etc.

It can be especially useful for cases where:

  • you need to create USB installation media from bootable ISOs (Windows, Linux, UEFI, etc.)
  • you need to work on a system that doesn’t have an OS installed
  • you need to flash a BIOS or other firmware from DOS
  • you want to run a low-level utility

Despite its small size, Rufus provides everything you need!

Drive Image XML

DriveImage XML is an easy to use and reliable program for imaging and backing up partitions and logical drives.

Image creation uses Microsoft’s Volume Shadow Services (VSS), allowing you to create safe “hot images” even from drives currently in use. Images are stored in XML files, allowing you to process them with 3rd party tools. Never again be stuck with a useless backup! Restore images to drives without having to reboot. DriveImage XML is now faster than ever, offering two different compression levels.

DriveImage XML runs under Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10 only. The program will backup, image and restore drives formatted with FAT 12, 16, 32 and NTFS.

Win32DiskImager

This program is designed to write a raw disk image to a removable device or backup a removable device to a raw image file. It is very useful for embedded development, namely Arm development projects (Android, Ubuntu on Arm, etc). Anyone is free to branch and modify this program. Patches are always welcome.

This release is for Windows 7/8.1/10. It will should also work on Windows Server 2008/2012/2016 (although not tested by the developmers). For Windows XP/Vista, please use v0.9 (in the files archive).

Warning: Issues have been reported when using to write to USB Floppy drives (and occasionally other USB devices, although very rare). While this has been fixed in v1.0, it is highly recommended that before an image is written to a device, the user should do a Read to a temporary file first. If this fails, please report the failure along with your system information.

Known issues:
Currently, the program will crash if you are using a Ramdisk. This is being debugged.

UNetbootin

UNetbootin allows you to create bootable Live USB drives for Ubuntu and other Linux distributions without burning a CD.
You can either let UNetbootin download one of the many distributions supported out-of-the-box for you, or supply your own Linux .iso file.

Universal USB Installer

Universal USB Installer aka UUI is a Live Linux Bootable USB Creator that allows you to choose from a selection of Linux Distributions to put on your USB Flash Drive. The Universal USB Installer is easy to use. Simply choose a Live Linux Distribution, the ISO file, your Flash Drive and, Click Install. Upon completion, you should have a ready to run bootable USB Flash Drive with your select operating system installed. Other features include; Persistence (if available) – Ubuntu, Xubuntu, and Lubuntu Casper Persistence feature works with FAT32 or NTFS formatted drives. Larger than 4GB casper-rw is possible only when the USB drive is formatted with the NTFS filesystem.

The Windows USB/DVD Download tool

The Windows USB/DVD Download tool allows you to create a copy of your Windows 7/8 ISO file on a USB flash drive or a DVD. To create a bootable DVD or USB flash drive, download the ISO file and then run the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download tool. Once this is done, you can install Windows 7 or Windows 8 directly from the USB flash drive or DVD.

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