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).

9 Answers 9


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).


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.


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.


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


  • Both MultiSystem and YUMI allow you to put multiple boot images on on a single USB drive. Nov 3, 2013 at 17:21
  • MultiSystem is for Debian based distros only.
    – TNT
    Feb 23, 2016 at 17:47

There is an official Windows USB/DVD Downoad Tool from Microsoft available, which can write a Windows ISO image to a DVD or USB stick.

  • this is not what OP is asking for. He wants to make bootable USB from DVD, this tool downloads the whole windows setup again (which I personally hate because it takes a long time).
    – user488721
    Sep 21, 2018 at 10:05

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


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.


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


If you want an .iso file (or .img, which is the same) to be bootable from USB, it must satisfy:

1) .iso must be bootable. On a link above there is the technical documentation for that. In most cases it is usually prepared to be bootable, if it's supposed to be.

2) the USB drive must be bootable with that iso. For this the iso must be hybrid. This means that you should not only write the iso to the disk, but also to create Master Boot Record for that. One can make a hybrid iso using isohybrid. Hybrid isos can be easily written both to CDs and usb sticks, but unfortunately not every software piece creates them (FreeDOS not yet).

Another option is to have a bootable iso and use a bootloader like syslinux or grub. They can be installed to USB and then load the iso themselves, like here. In this post I've put several examples on how to create a bootable usb containing (but it's not so important here) FreeDOS.

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