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Is there a "universal" way of how you can make a bootable USB drive out of a bootable dvd or cd? What makes a USB drive bootable? What makes a dvd and cd bootable?

For example there is a program called UNetBootin which can make bootable USB drives, but seems like it only works with various linux distributions. (Tried it with a Win7 image and the SystemRescueCD, which didn't work so well...).

Main reason I ask is that I have a Support DVD which came with an Asus EEE, and it of course doesn't have an external dvd drive. So I am curious if I can sort of move that dvd over to a USB drive so that I can use it without buying one.

Not asking just specifically about this one case though, I am curious to know a bit more about this in general. So, if you have a general bootable DVD or CD (Or a DVD or CD image for that matter), could be linux distro, windows install disk, support disks, etc., is it possible to "move" it over to a USB drive and make that work like the DVD or CD did? (Being bootable and all).

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8 Answers 8

See this post for instructions for how to take stuff that's on a bootable DVD and placing it on a USB drive that's bootable.

A USB Thumbdrive is just a hard drive, and if it's got the right boot files and the BIOS supports booting from an external USB hard drive it will work fine.

To understand what makes a CD or DVD drive bootable see this post on the El Torito (CD-ROM standard).

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Bart's mkbt utility works well.

There are other tools too, this is a nice link if you are wanting to make it bootable but not windows (only, or neccesarily)


Do note though that computers you use this on will have to be set to boot from the USB in a high enough order of precedence to be picked up before the hard drive.

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The most "universal" tool I've used is WinSetupFromUSB available here:


This tool allows you to create a Windows XP, Windows Vista/7, some Syslinux ISO and some other bootable (even multiboot), including some cool integrated tools from a single GUI (not very pretty), which even allows you to test the bootable USB key in a VM (QEMU) without the need to reboot a machine.

This is my first answer, hope it helped.

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There is an official Windows 7 utility from Microsoft available out there.

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Use MultiSystem if you're creating the USB drive from linux. YUMI if you're on windows.


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Both MultiSystem and YUMI allow you to put multiple boot images on on a single USB drive. –  Mark Stosberg Nov 3 '13 at 17:21

I've used this HP utility in the past, but I'm intrigued by the above.

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I have used the Win2flash utility to make my USB boot able and it did worked very well. I installed windows XP, 2003 and Windows 7 using this utility.

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I couldn't get these other apps to work under XP, the documentation doesn't say. I finally resorted to Bootsage, which worked for me the first time. http://firesage.com/bootsage

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