How to Write Bootable .ISO images to USB drive?

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader 'Craig F.' writes:

" Dear Dennis,

[Further to your discussion on how to download and reinstall legitimate Microsoft Windows on USB or DVD for free], I just wanted to be sure you were aware of [a freeware utility program that can take an .ISO file and create a bootable USB disk in place of CD or DVD ROM drives. The name of the program is called Rufus] ... It is by far the simplest, most foolproof method I've found for installing Windows, Office, or whatever on computers that [require an .ISO to install something, but] lack a working optical CD / DVD drive. I have no connection to the program or the developer, but I do like to tell others about it. "

My Response:

That is an excellent suggestion, and thank you very much for the tip!

I did happen to stumble across Rufus and a few other similar programs the day I wrote the article on how to reinstall Windows, but I have never used it as I have DVD drives readily available. I also use virtual machines extensively, so I usually mount .ISO images inside virtual machines, or I use Daemon Tools to mount .ISOs inside of Windows when needed to act as a virtual CD / DVD ROM drive without the need to write the disc. As such, I did not want to recommend Rufus or similar without testing it firsthand.

What is an .ISO file?

For those that are unaware, an .ISO file is an image of a CD or DVD disc that is stored as a single file on the hard drive. Using an .ISO file, you can recreate the image of the disc onto a CD or DVD (if you have a CD / DVD writer) and then use the disc as if it were the original copy. ISO files have been around for quite a long time and are pretty much the de facto standard when it comes to cloning or copying discs and/or storing the images onto hard drive.

My Experience with Rufus: ISO to USB

I did try Rufus today using a Windows XP .ISO and a compact flash drive (via internal USB connector with a Sony 3.5" card reader). I was pleasantly surprised to see that the compact flash drive booted; however, when the Windows XP installer ran, it said it couldn't find the EULA (end user license agreement) and the setup had to quit. In other words, the install failed from USB.

I think that perhaps the ability to boot from USB or similar depends on the operating system being installed, whether it can recognize the USB as a CD ROM drive, and also the chipset which handles the USB on the computer. I did test the same .ISO file using a virtual machine (via VMWare Workstation 10) and it worked without any issue.

I do appreciate this useful tip from Craig F. nonetheless, and I'm sure others will too -- which is why I've decided to publish this as an article. I would also like to point out that if anyone has a tip to recommend about other similar freeware programs, please sign up for a user account on the site as this will allow you to comment on our articles as we publish them. The more commenting we have on the site, the better it is for everyone.

Other Freeware .ISO to USB Utilities?

If anyone else has a suggestion for a freeware utility to convert and write bootable .ISO files to a USB drive, feel free to comment below.

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Chukar's picture

easy, peasey...

jsteedley2's picture

Hello, all.
Speaking of ISOs, at this time, I have two ISO softtools on my system.
ISO Workshop, and WinISO, are both for making, burning, &/or mounting ISOs,
& also for extracting files from ISOs, & converting other formats to ISOs.
I've used other tools previously, but these are the ones installed now.
Also, w/ ISOs, I've noticed that I may need another, different tool, depending on my goals.
BTW, unless I'm mistaken, both of these are still 'freeware'.

Have a GREAT day, Neighbors!

Chukar's picture

Easy USB Creator works as well.