Ditch Those CD's! A Guide To Using USB Flash Drives

This guide is intended to show the average PC user how to create bootable USB Flash Drives as a replacement for rescue disks and "Live" CD's.

Article Index - Ditch Those CD's! A Guide To Using USB Flash Drives
Page 1 - Article Intro, Flash Drive Booting, Advanced USB Drive Formatting
Page 2 - Install Windows 7 or Windows Vista From A USB Flash Drive
Page 3 - Install Windows XP From A USB Flash Drive
Page 4 - Install a Linux Operating From A USB Flash Drive
              Boot from one or more Linux Live CD's on a USB Flash Drive
Page 5 - Utility And Rescue Bootable USB Flash Drive
Page 6 - Portable Apps And USB Flash Drive PC Toolbox
Page 7 - What I Use & Other USB Info

Many utilities exist that can help you manage PC's. This can be operating system installation, virus removal, data recovery, disk management, etc.
In addition, there are Windows and Linux "live" CD's that allow you to boot into Windows or Linux to perform the aforementioned, try Linux distros, or to simply have a portable Operating System.

Why use USB flash drives (aka: thumb drives) instead of CD's? Speed, size, and portability.
1 - USB flash drives are far faster than CD's and DVD's.
2 - USB flash drives range in sizes and currently max out at 256 gigabytes.
3 - USB flash drives are small and thus highly portable. Many Geeks carry them on their key chains.

There are literally dozens of ways to create a bootable USB flash drive. I'm only going to cover the ones I use.
This guide is aimed at the home user, Geeks or Geek Wanna-Be, and folks like me who are your family and friends "computer guy".
All the tools listed are free, at least for home users.

*Note - The research and testing that went into this guide has taken several weeks. I have used every program listed (and then some) and tested them as best I could.
I've formatted and flashed and booted up, formatted and flash..................

Tips On Buying USB Flash Drives
1 - Quality and reliability. Stick with name brands or at least well reviewed drives. Check the reviews for the drives. Using a site like Newegg has reviews built-in.
2 - USB flash drives range in speed and faster ones come on the market all the time. Do a search on the product and check the manufacturers site.

Tools Used:
Please note that all tools listed are all FREE.

Windows 7 USBDVD Download Tool
Winbuilder Win7PE
LiveUSB Install
plus a few others listed elsewhere.

You must be able to boot from a USB Flash Drive. The options for that are in your BIOS or in some cases by hitting a key at boot.
You'll have to consult your computer manual or do a search for your particular computer on exactly how.
Below is an example from one of my computers. Click on the pic for a larger image.
usb boot xyz

Advanced USB Drive Formatting
This method allows you to delete the partition on the flash drive, make it an active partition (bootable), and format it.
I always use this method when creating bootable flash drives.
We will use the built-n Windows tool called diskpart. It's free and fast.
-Insert your flash drive.
-Open a command prompt. ( press the Windows + R keys and type cmd).
- Here are the commands in order.
1 - diskpart
2 - list disk   (find the number of your flash drive)
3 - select disk X   (where X is the number of your flash drive. Make absolutely sure you have the right number!)
4 - clean
5 - create partition primary
6 - select partition 1
7 - active
8 - format fs=fat32 quick
9 - assign


Next > Page 2 - Install Windows 7 or Windows Vista From A USB Flash Drive



Software I Use


I use True Image 2011 for all my OS backups and Disk Director 11.0 for all my partitioning requirements.

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