In "What’s Behind The USB Drive Revolution" ( http://www.informationweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=22100588 ) we began an exploration of the different types of compact, removable drives— sometimes called pen drives, thumb drives, jump drives, keychain drives, and so on— that attach to your PC via a USB port. Usually, these devices electronically disguise themselves so the PC they’re attached to treats them as a kind of floppy drive, but they add vastly more storage than any floppy can: USB pen drives typically add anywhere from 16 Mbyte to more than 4 Gbyte of portable storage to your system.
Almost any USB-equipped PC can read and write files to these devices, making them a nearly universal tool for moving larger files around without a network, or even serving as a backup medium for selected files. Most newer PCs also can boot directly from these devices, and that brings us to today’s topic.
In theory, making a USB drive bootable should be utterly simple: After all, a USB drive presents itself to the system as a kind of floppy-like medium, and every PC for the last 20 years has known how to boot from a floppy. But, naturally, it’s often not that simple: There can be problems on both the software and hardware side of making a USB device bootable.
On the software side, there can be issues with finding the correct, essential boot files in the first place. Some OSes— many Linux distributions, for example— lack a simple, obvious "make boot floppy" menu item; you may need to cobble together a boot floppy on your own, or download a preconfigured boot floppy image that may or may not contain the exact files you need and want.
Windows can have problems, too: For example, in newer versions of Windows, your main OS may use NTFS, but the OS’s &
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