How to create a bootable USB installation media

You have a USB pen drive. You have machine lying around waiting for a repair, reformat or change of operating system. What do you do? You format that USB pen drive and put a bootable OS installer in it. Don’t know how? Here is a guide.

Pre-requisites

More and more machines today are being shipped without a CD-ROM drive built in. If you haven’t heard what is a CD-ROM drive, you maybe born in this new era. Typically, laptops and computers are reformatted or repaired with the use of CD-ROM drives. Today however, things have changed. We can now use USB pen drives to do these tasks.

Anyway, lets get to the point. In order to get a bootable USB media, we need the following:

  • A USB pen drive
  • An .iso of the chosen operating system that you want
  • A USB media maker software (we will be using Rufus)

The download

Before we create the bootable USB media, download your preferred OS. Here are some choices:

Also, download Rufus concurrently. Get the portable version here.

Write the .iso to the pen drive

Now insert the pen drive to the computer and start Rufus. It should as for administrator rights. Click continue or enter your administrator password to continue.

Rufus

Rufus

After running Rufus, make sure that the item reflected on the Device field is the USB pen drive that you are going to use. Double check this field as making a bootable media will erase all contents of the USB pen drive.

As you can see, There are a lot of labels found in this program. However, before we start exploring them click the CD icon on the lower right side of the program window beside the FreeDOS field in the screenshot. This will open a new window in which you can select the .iso that you have just downloaded. Go to the folder where you put the .iso, select that and click open. This will change some of the values in Rufus to automatically match the needed parameters in order to make your USB a bootable media.

Rufus: with .iso selected

Rufus: with .iso selected

Now, you can go and click Start to start the process of making a bootable USB media. It will ask you for a write mode and a format confirmation.

Rufus: write mode

Rufus: write mode

Rufus: confirm action

Rufus: confirm action

Select ISO Image mode in the write more confirmation and click OK to continue. In addition, confirm the formation dialog box to start the process.

Now grab yourself a coffee and wait for it to finish. You will know that it is finished processing the media if the progress bar is filled with green color.

Rufus: finished processing

Rufus: finished processing

What the labels mean

If you are reading up to this point, congratulations you have already finished processing the USB media! But what do the labels in Rufus mean? Here’s what I got over the internet.

  • Device – the USB device you are going to use
  • Partition scheme and target system type – the method of partitioning to be used whether be MBR or GPT. MBR is an old partitioning scheme for old devices. This has now been replaced by GPT. You can safely leave this option as it is. For more info, see here.
  • File system – the type of process in which data is stored and retrieved. Normally you don’t need to configure this. For more info, head here.
  • Cluster size – the unit of disk space allocation for files and directories. You can safely leave this setting to its default value. For more information on Cluster Size, check here.
  • New volume label – the new name of the USB media. You can change this to your liking.
  • Check device for bad blocks – if enabled, Rufus will perform a disk check on the USB drive for bad blocks or bad data before formatting. These are unwritable parts of the USB media and most of the time is considered as damaged.
  • Quick format  – this will do a fast format of the USB media. Typically, a full format has 3 steps. A Quick format do only the first step. For more information, read this.
  • Create a bootable disk using – the method you want to use in creating the bootable disk.
  • Create extended label and icon files – if supported by the .iso, this will replace the USB label and icon with the name and icon of the OS.

And there you have it! A guide for making a bootable USB media. Congratulations!


Sources:

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