A computer can stop booting due to a variety of reasons, such as system failure, malware attacks, and hardware issues. Fortunately, all is not lost because you can create a bootable USB drive to help you reset your system. Keep reading to find out how!
5 Steps to Creating a Bootable USB Drive for Your Windows Computer
Step 1: Make Sure You Have Everything You Need
How do you create a bootable USB drive? First, you’ll need:
- Working PC
- Empty USB drive
- ISO file that contains your desired operating system
- Program that creates USB bootable drives
The operating system of your PC should be Windows 7 or later, with Windows 10 being the most preferable.
You will need at least a 4GB USB drive for a 32-bit operating system and at least 8GB for a 64-bit operating system. To operate at a higher speed, use a USB drive that supports the USB 3.0 standard.
Step 2: Prepare Your ISO File
What is an ISO file? An ISO file contains all files needed to install an operating system. In the past, these files used to be burned on CD- or DVD-ROMs, but these days these files can be downloaded and saved onto computers or external disks, such as USBs.
This is pretty handy these days since a lot of newer laptops don’t have built-in disk drives anymore. On the other hand, USB ports are a must for all laptops.
Step 3: Choose Your Bootable USB Drive Program
There are different programs you can use to create your bootable USB drive. You can divide these programs into two categories:
- Utility programs
- External programs
DiskPart is a Windows utility program that comes with the Windows operating system. You access it through the PC’s command prompt.
There are many external programs you can download and install on your PC to make your bootable USB drive. Some examples of these programs include WinUSB, Rufus 3.5, UNetbootin, and Power ISO.
Generally, the external programs are more user-friendly and many of them will work on different operating systems. DiskPart, on the other hand, can be a little trickier for newbies and may be more prone to error since it requires you to type in specific commands to get the job done.
Step 4: Make Your Bootable USB Drive
The steps you’ll need to create your bootable USB drive will depend on your choice of program. Here are the steps you will need to take when you use the Windows utility program, DiskPart, and an example of an external program, Rufus.
How to Use DiskPart
DiskPart has been a standard program in Windows PC since the Windows Vista operating system was introduced. Here’s what you will need to do:
- Take your USB drive and plug it into the USB port.
- Click on the start menu and find the command prompt program. It should be listed as “cmd.”
- Right-click on “cmd” and select “Run as administrator.” A black window with white text should pop up.
- Type “diskpart” and press enter.
- Type “list disk” and press enter.
- If there aren’t any other external drives currently attached to your PC, your USB drive should be “disk 1”. The storage capacity is also listed, so use that information to make sure you’re choosing the correct drive.
- Type “sel disk 1” (or whichever disk is listed as your USB drive).
- Type “clean” and press enter.
- To create your bootable drive, type “create partition primary” and press enter.
- Type “list par” and press enter.
- Type “sel par 1” and press enter.
- Activate your partition by typing “active” and pressing enter.
- Come up with a label for your USB. It shouldn’t have any spaces or special characters.
- If your label is “WINDOWSOSUSB”, type “format fs=FAT32 label=”WINDOWSOSUSB” quick override” and press enter. Whenever you plug in your USB in a windows computer, it will be displayed as WINDOWSOSUSB.
- The formatting should begin after you press enter. It may take some time, but once it’s done type in “assign” and press enter.
- Close DiskPart by typing “exit” and pressing enter.
- Close command prompt by typing “exit” and pressing enter.
How to Use Rufus
Rufus is a popular program for creating bootable USB drives. It’s fast, reliable, and can be used on PCs with Windows 7 or later.
When you use Rufus, here’s what you will need to do to make your bootable USB drive:
- Download and run the program.
- Under “Device,” select your USB.
- Check “Create a bootable disk” and next to that, choose the “ISO Image” option.
- Next to ISO image, there should be a small image of a CD-ROM. Right-click on it and choose your ISO file.
- Type in your chosen name for your USB in the textbox under “New volume label.”
- A warning about deleting all the data in your USB drive should appear. If there isn’t anything in the USB that you want to save, select “OK.”
- Start making your USB bootable drive by selecting “Start.”
- You’ll know it’s done when the green bar is full. When you see this, select “Finish.”
- Eject your USB drive safely.
Tip: Always click “safely eject hardware” and wait for the eject prompt before removing your USB from your computer. In this way, you avoid damaging your USB or losing data.
Step 5: Test Your Bootable USB Drive
Test your USB drive to make sure it works and use it as an opportunity to configure your firmware interface.
What is a firmware interface? It’s a component in your computer that serves as an “interpreter” of sorts between the operating system and the hardware. Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) and Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) are examples of firmware interfaces.
Here’s how you can test your drive:
- Plug in your USB drive and restart your computer.
- Once you see the computer’s manufacturer logo, look for the button you need to press to open the boot menu. It should be somewhere in the screen’s margins.
- Press the assigned button (usually Del, F1, F2, F8, or F10). Do it quickly, otherwise, your computer will start to run your current operating system.
- Use your arrow keys to access the booting option. It’s usually displayed as boot, boot menu, or boot manager.
- Select your USB. The next restart should load the operating system from the USB drive.
- Change the boot order so that your computer uses the operating system in USB drive first whenever it’s plugged into your computer.
- Click “esc” on your keyboard to exit the firmware interface.
Newer PCs that use UEFI instead of BIOS won’t initially have an option to enter the boot menu. Instead, head to “System settings” and select “Update and recovery.”
Under “Update and recovery,” choose “Recovery.” Then select “Extended start” and “Restart now.”
When the computer restarts, there should be a “troubleshooting” option. Click that and then click “extended options”.
There should be a “UEFI firmware settings” option that will give you access to the firmware interface. Once you’re there, proceed with step 4.
Having a bootable USB drive around can give you peace of mind even if your computer is functioning properly. This ensures you’ll be ready in the unfortunate case that you’d have to reset your system.
Apart from being able to access and recover your data if something malfunctions in your PC, a bootable USB drive allows you to have your preferred operating system wherever you go.
Before you attempt to create a bootable USB drive, make sure you have the right equipment. Don’t forget to purchase a 3.0 USB drive that has enough storage capacity to avoid having to re-do the entire process.
Do you have a bootable USB drive? Is there anything else you’d like to know about bootable drives? Let us know in the comments section.