Creating a flash drive that can be booted using Rufus

Finding a CD / DVD is very difficult these days, so most people want to use a bootable USB drive instead of a CD / DVD drive to install an operating system or software package. Windows has a lot of software to help you create bootable USB drives. Even Microsoft has its own tool.

Of all the tools available, Rufus, a free and open source application, is one of the best. In fact, Rufus is one of the few necessary tools that every Windows user should have in their software list.

The following steps show you how to use Rufus to create a quick-start flash drive in Windows. (You can also use Rufus to format a USB drive to FAT32, which is not possible with the standard Windows 10 formatting tool.)

Observe: This tutorial assumes that you already have an ISO file. If you don’t have an ISO file, you can download it from the developer’s website. SourceForge is one of the leading trusted archives for such ISO files. Also, make sure that the USB drive you are using is at least 8 GB and does not contain important data.

Use Rufus to create a bootable USB drive

1. Download Rufus if you haven’t already. Scroll down to where you can select the latest updated links or any older version. With the standard installer, Rufus is also available in a portable version. Download the portable version if you do not want to install Rufus on your system. In this case, I downloaded the laptop version. After downloading the .exe file, install and open the Rufus.

Rufus download page (portable version selected)

You will be notified if you want to allow Rufus to check for updates online. Click “yes” to continue.

Rufus update alert
Rufus update alert message

2. Connect the USB drive and you will see it immediately in the top drop-down menu. When you see the drive, click the “Select” button.

Rufus Click Select Drive Properties
Rufus Reader features

3. On the Browse Window menu, locate the folder where you saved the ISO file. Select it and click the “Open” button. In this case, because I wanted to create a bootable Linux Lite USB drive, I chose ISO.

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4. (Optional) Click the small “Check” icon next to the “Boot Selection” drop-down menu to calculate and view the MD5, SHA1, and SHA256 checksums in the ISO file. This is used to check if the ISO file has been modified before.

Rufus Large file checksum
MD5, SHA1, and SHA256 checksums

Wait a few seconds until the calculation is complete. If the red flag does not appear, the operating system / software version is safe to use on your computer.

Rufus Large file checksum calculations
Checksum calculations

5. Select “MBR” from the Partition drop-down menu and “BIOS or UEFI” from the Target System drop-down menu. If you are trying to use this bootable USB drive on an older system, select the “Add patches to the old BIOS” check box in the “Additional Drive Properties” section.

Rufus Select the target partition size system
Rufus Select the partition size and target system

6. (Optional) Use the “Volume Label” field to change the name of the USB flash drive. Also, under “Advanced Formatting Options,” make sure the “Quick Format” box is selected. As the name suggests, Quick Format quickly initializes the drive by bypassing the bad sector check.

7. Click the “Start” button.

Rufus Start designing
Rufus Boot Formatting Options

8. Depending on the ISO file, Rufus may ask you to download more files. For example, if you want to create a bootable Ubuntu drive, Rufus will prompt you to download the latest version of Syslinux. Click the “Yes” button and Rufus will take care of everything.

9. At the next prompt, select the recommended option “Write in ISO image mode” and click the “OK” button. You may also see a drive format warning – click the “OK” button.

Rufus Iso hybrid image mode
Rufus hybrid image mode

10. As soon as you start the formatting process, you will be warned that all data on the device will be destroyed. No worries, as you can restore the data later, so click OK. If you want to use the USB drive again to save the data, follow the instructions in this tutorial.

Rufus warned of the destruction of all knowledge
Rufus announces that all data has been destroyed

11. As soon as you press the button, Rufus will start creating a bootable USB stick. Depending on the USB drive, the creation process may take a few seconds or minutes.

Rufus Iso created a USB stick
ISO is created

12. When you are done, you will not see the completion message, but you will hear a completion tone and the progress bar will turn green.

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13. In Windows Explorer, verify that a new bootable drive has been created.

As you can see, creating a bootable USB drive with Rufus is pretty easy. No matter how complex the operating system / software version is, Rufus will convert it to a usable disk as long as there is enough space on the drive. In addition to Rufus, there are other tools like BalenaEtcher, WinToFLash, UNetboot, and Yumi that also offer the same result.

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