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  1. #1
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    About bootable USB Flash drives?

    I know..., seems like there is no end to my questions. I wish to thank you all for your patient endurance and kindnesses.

    When I first encountered the term "bootable USB device (or disk or drive)", I kind of gathered there might be more than to just the copying of files unto a thumb drive. So question 1 is what do I need to know, or how to do it, create one? I did find this link, but would appreciate some reassurance and or any other "need to knows."
    http://www.bootdisk.com/pendrive.htm

    Looks like I have at least 3 different needs for such:
    1. to flash update my UEFI BIOS.
    2. to install my custom installation ISO of Windows 7
    3. to make a bootable backup of my system after installation of the OS, drivers, Windows updates, and anti-virus.

    Lastly, or is there an instance here where, say, a DVD is the preferred option over a thumb drive? Yet once again... Thanks!

  2. #2
    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    Gerard,

    There are many ways to accomplish the task of making a USB device {Hard Drive, Thumb Drive, etc.} bootable. I use Macrium Reflect to do my Image Backups and I've made both a bootable thumb drive with just Macrium on it and also a bootable USB Hard Drive {WD Passport} that contains Macrium in the boot partition and stores the images on the Data partition {see here}. Many BIOS flash routines when downloaded from the internet will allow you to create bootable USB thumb drives directly you only have to tell the installation procedure to do so. And if I remember correctly Microsoft even has a USB Boot tool available for free. So I would say the first step is to look at the specific software/download/etc you want to use and see if the function is provided before looking for a generic tool that may not work in a specific situation. Also be aware that there are many different bootable environments, among them the Windows PE environment and Linux. Macrium Reflect offers both, I chose to use the Windows PE environment as it is closest to full fledged windows. YMMV.

    Good Luck
    Last edited by RetiredGeek; 2013-01-16 at 20:12.
    May the Forces of good computing be with you!

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  3. #3
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    One:
    In many instances you will not need your USB thumb drive to be bootable when flashing the BIOS.
    Simply placing the right BIO file on the drive and hitting the right key on your keyboard will bring up the BIOS autoflash utility.
    You'll have to look into your boards specific features when it comes to BIOS flashing.

    Two:
    There are many articles on the internet that will walk you through converting your OS installation disk or ISO to bootable USB stick;
    Windows 7 bootable USB
    Windows 8 bootable USB
    Windows XP bootable USB

    Three:
    This will be based around your choice of imaging software. All 3rd party imaging apps will have a tutorial for creating their own bootable USB restore disks.
    Slipstreaming will be something entirely different.

    Lastly, or is there an instance here where, say, a DVD is the preferred option over a thumb drive? Yet once again
    No, not too many. The exception being a really old computer that doesn't fully support USB booting, but that's extremely rare now a days.
    USB booting is the way to go for all laptop computers with no CD/DVD drive.
    DRIVE IMAGING
    Invest a little time and energy in a well thought out BACKUP regimen and you will have minimal down time, and headache.

    Windows 8.1, 64 bit
    Motherboard: DX58SO2*Chipset: X58 Express/Intel ICH10*BIOS: SOX5820J.86A.0888.2012.0129.2203*Processor: Intel Core i7 CPU X 990
    GPU: Nvidia GTX 580*Memory: Corsair 12 GB, 4x3@1600*PSU: Corsair HX1000*Hard drives: REVO X2 160GB*OCZ VERT X3 120GB*5 mechanical storage drives (12 TB) total.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by RetiredGeek View Post
    Gerard,

    There are many ways to accomplish the task of making a USB device {Hard Drive, Thumb Drive, etc.} bootable. I use Macrium Reflect to do my Image Backups and I've made both a bootable thumb drive with just Macrium on it and also a bootable USB Hard Drive {WD Passport} that contains Macrium in the boot partition and stores the images on the Data partition {see here}. Many BIOS flash routines when downloaded from the internet will allow you to create bootable USB thumb drives directly you only have to tell the installation procedure to do so. And if I remember correctly Microsoft even has a USB Boot tool available for free. So I would say the first step is to look at the specific software/download/etc you want to use and see if the function is provided before looking for a generic tool that may not work in a specific situation. Also be aware that there are many different bootable environments, among them the Windows PE environment and Linux. Macrium Reflect offers both, I chose to use the Windows PE environment as it is closest to full fledged windows. YMMV.

    Good Luck
    Thank you most kindly for your help, RG. The Macrium Reflect looks promising to me. And thanks for the best wishes-- I'm kind of looking forward to hopeful relief once I get past the BIOS flashing.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by CLiNT View Post
    One:
    In many instances you will not need your USB thumb drive to be bootable when flashing the BIOS.
    Simply placing the right BIO file on the drive and hitting the right key on your keyboard will bring up the BIOS autoflash utility.
    You'll have to look into your boards specific features when it comes to BIOS flashing.

    Two:
    There are many articles on the internet that will walk you through converting your OS installation disk or ISO to bootable USB stick;
    Windows 7 bootable USB
    Windows 8 bootable USB
    Windows XP bootable USB

    Three:
    This will be based around your choice of imaging software. All 3rd party imaging apps will have a tutorial for creating their own bootable USB restore disks.
    Slipstreaming will be something entirely different.


    No, not too many. The exception being a really old computer that doesn't fully support USB booting, but that's extremely rare now a days.
    USB booting is the way to go for all laptop computers with no CD/DVD drive.
    Once again, I thank you for coming to my aid, CLiNT. I sure don't remember building a system to be so involved as it was years ago when I did it.

    1. Okay, here is what I mean about these little "need to knows," and why I get so careful... The instructions on the MSI website for the mflash method merely states, "Extract the BIOS-zip file that you have downloaded and paste it to your USB storage device."
    http://www.msi.com/service/biosupdate/

    But the manual reads, "Please setup a specific folder in specific USB/ Storage drive to save BIOS file from
    BIOS ROM chip data. Note: it only supports FAT/ 32 file system drive."

    So now I learn about the FAT/32 requirement that way. I assume I should not have any other files or folders on such drive.

    2. Curiously and oddly enough, when I click on the links you so kindly got for me, all I got were blank Google pages.

    3. Okay, I follow, procedures will vary. My original plan was to store the restore on one or both of my storage HDD's, but I read somewhere that the worst thing one can do is restore a system backup from an HDD on to an SSD, something about the nature of an SSD.

  6. #6
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    Follow up:

    CLiNT, I discovered about the links that where IE 9 drew up blank Google pages, clicking those links in Google Chrome got me some results. Thanks! I'm not a huge fan of Chrome, but I don't know about IE 9 either, at least not for Vista.

  7. #7
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    I thought you said that you already had the latest BIOS version[??]

    I found this from MSI: [PDF] How to make a bootable flash disk and to flash BIOS - MSI
    (select "save as")
    DRIVE IMAGING
    Invest a little time and energy in a well thought out BACKUP regimen and you will have minimal down time, and headache.

    Windows 8.1, 64 bit
    Motherboard: DX58SO2*Chipset: X58 Express/Intel ICH10*BIOS: SOX5820J.86A.0888.2012.0129.2203*Processor: Intel Core i7 CPU X 990
    GPU: Nvidia GTX 580*Memory: Corsair 12 GB, 4x3@1600*PSU: Corsair HX1000*Hard drives: REVO X2 160GB*OCZ VERT X3 120GB*5 mechanical storage drives (12 TB) total.

  8. #8
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    Thank you for that gem of a find, CLiNT. That's helpful to read. I gather it is an earlier version than the one I was going by, since I've got that UEFI BIOS.

    http://www.msi.com/service/biosupdate/

    Sorry for the confusion. What I said in the "Motherboard Drivers" post was "And might you know, the current BIOS is an updated version of the one I presently have." So my board is updateable. But what I have already done is download the latest BIOS version. I just have to get it on to a thumb drive properly.
    Last edited by Gerard3; 2013-01-17 at 11:48.

  9. #9
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    Unzip the BIOS file on your desktop, if it comes in a zip file, then just copy the two BIO files to the bootable USB disk you just made.
    Write down the names of the BIO files in the event you need to find for them once you've booted in FreeDos.

    I don't know why MSI should turn a simple BIOS flash into such a clusterf**k.
    Most motherboard makers, like Azus and GIGABYTE have very simple solutions, even Intel.
    Last edited by CLiNT; 2013-01-17 at 12:14.
    DRIVE IMAGING
    Invest a little time and energy in a well thought out BACKUP regimen and you will have minimal down time, and headache.

    Windows 8.1, 64 bit
    Motherboard: DX58SO2*Chipset: X58 Express/Intel ICH10*BIOS: SOX5820J.86A.0888.2012.0129.2203*Processor: Intel Core i7 CPU X 990
    GPU: Nvidia GTX 580*Memory: Corsair 12 GB, 4x3@1600*PSU: Corsair HX1000*Hard drives: REVO X2 160GB*OCZ VERT X3 120GB*5 mechanical storage drives (12 TB) total.

  10. #10
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    I very strongly recommend YUMI
    http://www.pendrivelinux.com/yumi-mu...t-usb-creator/

    This is a very easy thing that does NOT involve messing around with Microsoft and Windows Installation ISO's

    Any ISO which can be burnt to a bootable CD can instead be placed in a Flash Drive.

    Additionally it allows the use of multiple bootable Tools in the one Flash Drive

    I now have a Bootable Flash drive which presents a menu of 6 different ISO's which I can choose from.
    I can choose either the previous and proven compatible ISO, or the latest and greatest and hope it is compatible ISO for three types of Tool :-
    Toolbox from OCZ, running under Linux, to do such things as Secure Erase my SSD before restoring a Disk Image;
    Macrium Reflect Rescue/Restore running WinPE to restore the SSD from an Image backup file
    Partition Wizard running under Linux for doing things that Windows does not allow.

    The above uses 580 MB out of my 8 GB Flash Drive,
    so plenty more room for adding more tools.
    I guess I could have a Disk Image backup in the flash drive if I wanted to wait 20 minutes to copy a 7 GB image file to Flash.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gerard3 View Post

    3. Okay, I follow, procedures will vary. My original plan was to store the restore on one or both of my storage HDD's, but I read somewhere that the worst thing one can do is restore a system backup from an HDD on to an SSD, something about the nature of an SSD.
    Only if the original instal was on a HDD and the image is being restored to a SSD without the capability to optimize the restoration for an SSD (which means assure the partition is properly aligned).

    If your original install of an SSD-aware OS (W7 and W8) was on the SSD, no worries about where an image from the SSD is stored or restored from if needed, and if thought about more, that's the only option that makes sense anyway; where else would one store multiple images from an SSD? Also, I think most imaging software now makes it a trivial task to restore a original source HDD image to an SSD; it usually just involves putting a check into the box associated with the label, Optimize restore image for SSD, or something similar.

  12. #12
    New Lounger mchldpy's Avatar
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    @ gerard3,
    what did you end up making your custom installation disk with ¿ have you tried it yet ¿

    michael clyde
    REMEMBER--- "if you don't play well with others, you could end up playing with yourself."


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