How to Make a Bootable USB Drive to Windows, Linux or MS DOS

Recently I was on a road trip, without my trusty collection of CDs and DVDs with system tools. I ended up needing to use my USB memory stick as a bootable device to install Windows 8 on a few computers. But how to create a bootable USB drive, as quickly as possible, without going through many steps and manual customisations? I did some research, tested a few tools and found a great one, which is updated regularly and provides many useful features.

NOTE: The tool showcased in this tutorial, can be downloaded for free, from here: WinUSB Maker - The Windows Setup to USB Solution. A good mirror is Softpedia.

Starting Things Up With WinUSB Maker

When you launch the tool, you are taken to the Welcome section. There you need to select the USB removable drive you want to use.

WinUSB Maker - Bootable USB Drive

Then, prior to making the device bootable, it is best to make a backup of the data found on it. Go to the Full USB Backup section and make the backup.

WinUSB Maker - Bootable USB Drive

I noticed that WinUSB Maker makes a full sector-by-sector backup. It doesn’t just copy the files found on the USB drive. Therefore, my USB memory stick with 2 small files on it, had a backup file with 16 GB in size (its total capacity).

If you would rather not wait too long, manually copy the data existing on the drive to a backup location. You don’t have to make a sector-by-sector backup if it is not useful to you.

How to Create a Bootable Windows Installation on the USB Device

If you are interested in using the USB device to boot and install Windows, go to the Setup to USB section. There, you can provide the ISO image (complete DVD copy) of a Windows installation disc (it also works with Windows 8) or you can insert the installation DVD into your computer, select "I want to work with a Directory" and select the location of the disc.

WinUSB Maker - Bootable USB Drive

Once you press Make USB Bootable, WinUSB Maker asks you to confirm that you want to go ahead and formats the USB drive. Then, it copies all the appropriate files.

WinUSB Maker - Bootable USB Drive

This procedure will be lengthy so arm yourself with some patience.

How to Boot to GRUB From The USB Drive

Linux users are very familiar with the GRUB multiboot boot loader.

WinUSB Maker - Bootable USB Drive

Once you press "Make USB Bootable" and make the appropriate confirmation, the process takes a few seconds to finish. You can then also copy your Linux installation files to the USB drives, boot to GRUB and launch the setup of your preferred Linux distribution.

How to Boot to MS DOS From The USB Drive

Old-school users might want to boot to MS DOS using their USB device. Simply go to the MSDOS to USB section.

WinUSB Maker - Bootable USB Drive

Press Make USB Bootable, make the necessary confirmation and wait a few seconds. You will then be able to boot into MS DOS.

As a fun note, I haven’t used MS DOS since high-school. It was so fun using it after so many years. I even remembered a few useful commands. :)

View the Status of the Data Transfer

Each time you start the process of creating a bootable drive, you are taken to the Transfer Status section. Here you will see the operations being performed and their status.

WinUSB Maker - Bootable USB Drive

When creating a bootable Windows installation on the USB Drive, the process will be lengthy and lots of data will be shown. For all the other boot options, there won’t be much data to see in this section of the program.

Restore the Data on Your USB Drive

When you are done using the bootable USB drive, you can restore the initial data you had on it, using the Full USB Restore section. Press Full USB Restore, select the backup file you created with WinUSB Maker and the process starts.

WinUSB Maker - Bootable USB Drive

Since the backup is a full sector-by-sector copy, the restoration will take a while, depending on the size of the USB device.

Conclusion

WinUSB Maker is a very versatile tool. I’ve tested quite a few similar solutions and none had so many features and provided so much versatility. Even though the tool is still in the beta stage, it is fully functional. I recommended it as a must-have tool in every geek’s arsenal. You can download it from here: WinUSB Maker - The Windows Setup to USB Solution.