How to Create Bootable USB Drive from an ISO

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Sometimes we feel in dire need to format our hard disk and re-install our OS. For some of us, it is the easiest way to remove all the junk files and unused programs. In some cases, we want to boot Linux from USB or some backup/recovery tool. You cannot simply copy the files from ISO to the USB drive directly to make it bootable. It requires a lot more complex approach than that.

The procedure to create a bootable USB drive from an ISO file is very different than burning a DVD. It making the USB drive bootable only makes things more complex. Mostly we want a short and crisped way to get it done quickly. But some of our advanced users don’t like to use any 3rd party software.

We have got the solution for everything you need to build your bootable USB. Here I am going to show you some techniques to get your work done.

So enough of my babbling let get to the points directly. You are not here to read introductions only, let’s get going with the steps to follow.

Ways we are going to discuss

  1. Using free ISO to USB burning tool Rufus (The best right now)
  2. Without using any software (Manually/for advanced users)


Create Bootable USB Drive using Rufus

For this process, we are going to use Windows 10 ISO file to create bootable USB. You can always use the Microsoft Windows 10 Download and Install tool. But for the learning purpose, we are going to use the Windows 10 ISO. Please follow the below steps:

  1. For the first step, you need to download Rufus. A great free tool to make your USB drive bootable with some single clicks. It simply formats and prepares the USB drive. Then extracts the ISO into the USB. And makes it bootable using bootmgr of the ISO itself.

Bootable USB Drive from an ISO RUFUS Step 1

**Note: If you do not want to install Rufus directly on your PC or Laptop download the portable version. The portable version is simply run and use. You can also carry it around in your USB drive if needed

  1. If you have downloaded the normal version then install it first to use. If you have downloaded the portable version then run it directly. I prefer to run it in Administrator mode.

Bootable USB Drive Rufus Step 2

**Note: When you are opening Rufus for the first time a window will prompt you for Update Check. If you want to use Rufus in future also simply click on ‘Yes’ Rufus will automatically update after each run. But it really is up to you only.

  1. Choose the correct USB Drive you want to make bootable from the driver drop-down menu. Please recheck before you proceed do not select wrong USB drive you might lose your important data.

Rufus Bootable USB Step 3

**Note: Rufus shows you the drive letter and the total space of the USB Drive. Please use this information to double check your USB drive to avoid any kind of data loss. If your USB is not getting detected there might be some issue with the USB itself. Or windows might be having some issue detecting your Drive. Avoid using that pen drive if you are facing issues like these. Use some other drive to make it bootable.

  1. Under the “Boot selection” menu select “Disk or ISO image” and click on the “SELECT” button. From the windows explorer pop up select the ISO file you want to use.Rufus Step 4
    Rurfus Step 4.1
  2. Leave the “Partition scheme” and “Target System” alone if you do not know what you are doing. And there is also no need to use the “Advance Drive Properties”.

**Note: You can change the volume level as you wish. It will be your USB Drive name after making it bootable. “File system” and “Cluster Size” should be left alone (Cluster Size: 4096 bytes Default).

  1. Click on “Show advanced format options”, you will receive some more options to use. Check on “Quick Format”,” Create extended label and icon files” these both options if not checked. You can use the “Check device for bad blocks” options also if you feel your USB drive is having some issues. 1 The pass is enough but some USB drives can have 2-4 bad sectors. In which case it might knock up in numbers also.
  2. Now simply click the “START” button and watch Rufus do unnecessary work.
    Rufus Step 7

**Note: If your ISO file is not supported before formatting your device Rufus will let you know. And it will pop up a fair warning before starting the format “WARNING: ALL DATA ON DEVICE ‘ABC’ WILL BE DESTROYED”. Simply click “OK” to proceed.

  1. You can see the progress in the progress bar at the bottom of Rufus. After it completes you will receive one pop-up saying “DONE”. Now you can close Rufus and disconnect your USB drive.


There you have it guys. Your bootable USB drive is ready to use. Simply change your boot drive option and boot from your USB.


There are some other free tools you can use to make your bootable USB Drive from an ISO. Like: ISO to USB, UNetbootin, Universal USB Installer, WinSetupFromUSB, UltraISO are some other free options.  ISO to USB tools such as above mentioned ones is great if you want to use some kind of a bootable program. You can also take an entire operating system in your USB drive and can use it for data recovery.


Create Bootable USB Drive from an ISO manually

Some of you might be skeptic about using some 3rd party software. Even I do sometimes. It is one of the cleanest ways to get your bootable USB Drive ready for use within a couple of minutes. But this technique requires a bit more knowledge about what you are doing and some small troubleshooting techniques.

No guys, this is not some rocket science. You can easily do it if you follow some basic steps mentioned below. Get your pen drives ready guys and get going

  1. Connect your USB drive to your PC/Laptop.
  2. Open CMD Prompt. Either you can search for it or simply press WIN+R and type in CMD and hit ok.
    Bootable USB Manually Step 2
  3. If you searched it in the menu right click on it and click on “Run As Administrator”
    Bootable USB Manually Step 3
  4. Once you are in the command prompt type “diskpart”(without quotes) and hit enter. It will take a little bit of time for the diskpart utility to load so a bit of patience is needed here.
    Step 4
  5. In the diskpart window simply type “list disk” (without quotes) and hit enter. It will show you all the disk drives available in your system. One (or multiple) of them is your hard drive and one for the USB drive. You can determine which one is your USB drive by checking the size of it. In my case, it is the “Disk 1” 29GB.
    Step 5
  6. Type in “select disk 1” (without quotes) and hit Enter. You will see a new message saying ‘Disk 1 is now the selected disk’.
  7. Type “clean” and hit Enter. It will not format your USB drive, but keep your essential data backup beforehand. After it finishes formatting you will receive a message like ‘Diskpart succeeded in cleaning the disk’.
    Step 6 and 7
  8. Type “create partition primary” and hit Enter. You will get a message like Diskpart succeeded in creating the specified partition. This will make your USB drive a partition to boot from.
  9. Now we are entering the fun part. Simply type in “select partition 1” and hit Enter. The partition 1 will be selected as an active partition for you to work on.
  10. Type “active” and hit Enter.
    Step 8,9,10
  11. For the last few steps type “format fs=ntfs quick” and hit Enter. It will remove all data from the USB drive so make sure you have your backup for any unnecessary hassle. It will take some time for diskpart to format your USB depending on the size.
  12. This command will turn your USB drive as an NTFS drive.
  13. Finally, we are done with diskpart. You can type “exit” and hit Enter. It will close the diskpart window.
    Step 11,12,13
  14. Now let’s go for the easiest part. Now you have to copy your ISO file contents to your USB drive. Use any of your archive programs for opening the ISO file. We used WINRAR for this example.
    Step 14
  15. And now you can simply extract the contents in your USB drive or copy and paste it manually. After the copying finishes, you have yourself a bootable USB drive.


There we are having a bit more of steps involved in this technique. But once you do it yourself you will find it really very easy to do it the next time. There is no possibility to destroy your USB by mistake or make it unusable. This technique is for advanced users and people who like to research a bit. If you have no problem using some 3rd party software just go for Rufus. It is easy to use and very much reliable.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

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Prince is a blooming blogger and a lead tester at TactfulMinds, an in–depth and detailed tech review blog. He works as a software engineer having sound knowledge on web designing, development and data management. He is a tech enthusiast, a passionate gamer and above all a complete nerd.

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