Create Boot Usb From Iso

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Creating a bootable USB from an ISO file is easy if you have the right tools. Here's how to make a bootable flash drive from an ISO file. Installations from a USB flash drive have become one of the easiest ways to update your computer with a new operating system. A USB installation is quick, extremely portable, and has the bonus of reverting to a storage device following the install.

See our introduction to using flash drives on Windows 10 if you need some background. You'll find a fair few ISO to USB tools out there, and they feature a range of tools for beginners and advanced users. Let's take a look at the burn time and the resources available to each software.

  1. Note: To keep this test fair, I'm going to burn a copy of Windows 10 Insider Preview Build to an 8GB Integral USB flash drive, formatting the drive between each burn.

Before we plow into the testing phase, there are a handful of ISO-to-USB acronyms that it's handy to know, plus a few other bits of ISO to USB jargon we'll clear up.

2. Windows USB/DVD Download Tool

Bootloader Options: The bootloader loads the operating system. Some ISO burners allow you to choose the bootloader you'll need for your desired operating system installation. Grub4dos: A bootloader package designed to allow users to select between multiple operating systems installed on a single system, sometimes known as dual-booting. Syslinux: A lightweight bootloader package designed to allow users to select between multiple Linux or Unix installations.

You can also create a multiboot ISO to USB installer containing multiple installation options. QEMU: Short for Quick Emulator, is a hardware virtualization tool.

In this context, it allows users to test their USB before proceeding with the burn process. Cluster Size: Defines the smallest available space for storing data.

Instead of assigning individual disk sectors, the file system assigns contiguous groups of sectors, called clusters. File System: Controls how data is accessed and stored. Without it, your data would lump together with no beginning or end.

A file system defines easy access. There are different file systems available, though your burning tool should discern your requirements via the ISO you use. Bad Sector: Some ISO to USB tools allow you to perform a bad sector check. The software will scan your USB before the burn commences, fixing any irregularities to ensure your installation is smooth. It is somewhat like defragmenting your desktop, but on a much smaller scale. MAKEUSEOF VIDEO OF THE DAY. Now, in no particular order, here are the ISO to USB burning tools with their respective times. Want the TL;DR?

Check out the best ISO to USB comparison video below!

  1. Features: Partition schemes, file systems, automatic ISO detection, target system type, mode of bootable, bad sector checks, ISO write mode.
  2. First up, Rufus. Rufus is a very small executable that has consistently improved its offerings over the years.
  3. Along with standard ISO to USB options such as cluster size and file system, Rufus automatically detects settings for the ISO you select and fills in the optimal settings.
  4. Furthermore, Rufus has a hidden Advanced Mode with a bunch of extra options.
  5. Rufus clocked in at 21m12s which is definitely not the fastest.
  6. Regardless, Rufus is an excellent ISO to USB tool.

Detailed instructions on 'burning' an ISO image to a USB flash drive

Download: Rufus for Windows 10 (Free). The Windows USB/DVD has been discontinued, but you can still download and use it via the link at the bottom of this section. It is a basic tool. You select your ISO. You select your media type; USB or DVD. You click Begin Copying, and off it goes. In what is the most basic of basic UIs, and with only two options, the Windows USB/DVD Download Tool is almost sublimely simple, comparable only to ISO to USB.

This makes it a fine tool when installing Windows 10 from a USB drive. Windows USB/DVD Download Tool came home in 17m51s which puts it toward the top of the ISO to USB timings board.

Download: Windows USB/DVD Download Tool for Windows 10 (Free). Features: Bootloader options, file systems and overrides, grub4dos, syslinux, QEMU. RMPrepUSB is one of the most complete ISO to USB packages on this list. Aside from the features above, it comes packed with a host of other bootloaders, DiskDoctor, Speed Tests, and individual user configurations for frequently prepared drives.

RMPrepUSB clocks in with a 21m38 putting it firmly toward the top of the timings board but, like Rufus, the features more than make up for the slightly slower time.

  1. Download: RMPrepUSB for Windows 10 (Free). Features: Multiboot, ISO auto-download.
  2. YUMI (Your Universal Multiboot Installer) is another multiboot ISO to USB installer with settings for a vast range of Linux, Windows, and system utility ISOs. YUMI is easy to use. You scroll down the distribution list, check for the ISO you want, and then select the corresponding ISO on your system from the box below.
  3. Don't have the ISO? YUMI will take care of that for you. YUMI clocked in at 17m46---slower than the first time I ran these tests some five years ago (it was 14m50s back then!), but still ahead of the rest. Download: YUMI for Windows 10 (Free). Features: Multiboot, grub4dos, bootloader options, burning wizard, file systems, burning profiles, ISO auto-download. Novicorp WinToFlash is a popular ISO to USB utility that features a handy burning wizard. The wizard guides you through the burning process, although it isn't unique to the utility (Rufus fills in all the information you need, for example).

WinToFlash also allows you to create multiboot USBs as well as an auto-downloader for any ISO files you're missing. WinToFlash clocks in at 22m01, decent speed for a tool that guides you through the ISO to USB process. Download: WinToFlash for Windows 10 (Free). Features: grub4dos, ISO auto-download (Linux only), syslinux. UNetbootin is primarily a Linux LiveUSB burning tool, but it works sufficiently well with Windows to deserve inclusion in this list.

Other ISO-to-USB Tools We Tested...

The UNetbootin utility isn't flashy, but it does come with a few nifty features. For instance, it has an auto-download feature for Linux distributions, letting you select from a range of popular distros and system utility tools.

  • UNetbootin came home in 22m01, exactly the same as WinToFlash and, again, a decent time for a useful tool.
  • Download: UNetbootin for Windows 10 (Free). The winner regarding speed is YUMI. The winner regarding features and ease of use is Rufus, which was only 3 minutes slower than YUMI.
  • Furthermore, both burning tools cater to slightly different markets; Rufus is for one-off ISO to USB creation, whereas YUMI is excellent for multiboot tools.
  • Let's not discount the other USB to ISO tools. The range of burn times didn't vary much, so it really boils down to the features you need and find in a specific utility.
  • I tested many more ISO to USB tools for the sake of competition---and to bring you the best overall picture possible. There were a few tools that didn't make the grade, for one reason or another.
  • Here are the fallen few:. XBoot is another multiboot tool featuring an inbuilt download, but other options were faster and somewhat easier to use.
  • However, XBOOT's QEMU function is excellent. WinToBootic fits comfortably into the basic features category and clocked a decent time, too.
  • Passcape ISO Burner is a multifunction burning tool, but it wouldn't work for me.
  • I have read other positive reviews, so it could be worth a look for other individuals.
  • ISO to USB is another very basic tool. However, it didn't make the cut through a slow time and lack of features.
  • FlashBoot has a decent UI and a burning wizard to guide you through, but I gave up on the test as it had not even hit 50% after nearly 40 minutes. UltraISO burned the ISO to USB at a reasonable speed and has the bonus of mounting ISOs before burning to check their files. Related: How to Delete Old Boot Menu Options on Windows 10.
  • Hopefully, you now have a better overview of the best ISO to USB tools available to you. Furthermore, you can pick your tool based upon its raw speed, its functionality, or a combination of both.
  • If you need a guide to creating a bootable USB to install Windows from an ISO file, look no further.

For macOS users, we've also looked at how to boot your Mac from USB. How to Install Multiple Bootable Operating Systems on a USB Stick. Join our newsletter for tech tips, reviews, free ebooks, and exclusive deals! Download and open Rufus tool. Insert a USB drive and select a device. Select Disk or ISO image. Locate and select ISO image to burn. Under Image option, choose Standard Windows installation. Leave other options alone and choose Start.

How to Burn an ISO to USB With the Rufus Tool

Wait for the status to say "Ready," then close Rufus and remove the USB drive. So you have an ISO file that you want on a flash drive or some other USB storage device. You also need to be able to boot from it. Sounds straightforward, right? Copy the file over and you're done! Unfortunately, it's not that simple. This process also works to burn a Windows 11 ISO to USB. However, doing so via Microsoft's Windows 11 media creation tool is best.

Time Required: "Burning" an ISO image file to a USB device, like a flash drive, usually takes less than 20 minutes, but the total time depends a lot on the size of the ISO file.

Properly burning an ISO to USB is different than copying the file or burning it to a disc.


With ISO burning, you're not technically "burning" anything to a USB drive. Adding to the complexity is that you plan on booting from the USB drive once you're done getting the ISO image on there. The 10 Best USB Flash Drives for Easy, Reliable File Transfer. Download Rufus, a free tool that will correctly prepare the USB drive, automatically extract the contents of the ISO file you have, and properly copy the files contained within it to your USB device, including any files in the ISO needed to make it bootable.

Rufus is a portable program (doesn't install), works on Windows 11, 10, 8, and 7, and will "burn" an ISO image file to any type of USB storage device you happen to have.

  • If you'd prefer to use a different ISO-to-USB tool, some other good ones include balenaEtcher, UNetbootin, ISO to USB, and Universal USB Installer.
  • Of course, if you do choose another program, you won't be able to follow the instructions we've written here because they pertain specifically to Rufus.
  • Open the version of Rufus you downloaded. The program will start right away.
  • As we mentioned earlier, Rufus is a portable program, meaning that it just runs as is.
  • This is a big reason why we prefer this ISO-to-USB program over some of the other options out there.
  • When it first opens, you're asked whether the program should occasionally check for updates. It's up to you whether you want to enable this, but it's best to do so if you plan to use it again in the future.
  • Insert the flash drive or other USB device into your computer that you want to "burn" the ISO file to, assuming it's not already plugged in.
  • Burning an ISO image to a USB drive will erase everything on the drive!
  • Before continuing, check that the drive is empty or that you've backed up any files you want to keep.

From the Device drop-down at the top of Rufus, choose the USB storage device you want to burn the ISO file to. Rufus tells you the size of the USB device, as well as the drive letter and current free space on the drive. Use this information to double-check that you're choosing the correct device, assuming you have more than one plugged in.

Benefits Drawbacks
✔ Fast and reliable tool ✘ USB drive formatting necessary
✔ Very small file size
✔ Also supports UEFI
✔ Windows2Go possible


Don't worry about the free space that's indicated, since you'll be erasing the entire drive as part of this process. If no drive is listed, or you can't find the one you're expecting to see, there might be an issue with the USB device you're planning on using for the ISO image, or Windows is having some sort of problem seeing the drive. Try another device and/or another USB port on your computer, or close and reopen Rufus.

From the Boot selection drop-down, make sure Disk or ISO image (Please select) is chosen.

  • Locate and select the ISO image you want to burn to the flash drive, and then press Open to load it into Rufus.
  • Wait while the software inspects the ISO file you chose.
  • This might take several seconds or may go by so quickly that you don't even notice.
  • If you get an Unsupported ISO message, the ISO you chose isn't supported for burning to USB by Rufus.
Benefits Drawbacks
✔ No formatting necessary ✘ Only in English
✔ Can write multiple operating systems to one USB
✔ Slim user interface
✔ Various Ubuntu distributions can be loaded

It’s Necessary to Create Bootable USB from ISO Windows 10/11

In this case, try one of the other programs listed in Step 1 or check with the maker of the ISO image for more help getting their software to work from a USB drive. Under the Image optionarea, pick Standard Windows installationif you see this and if that's the case.

For example, if you're putting a Windows installation ISO image onto the flash drive, and you get this option, you'd want to enable it for sure.

  • Leave the Partition scheme, Target system, File system, and Cluster size options alone unless you know what you're doing or you've been advised to set any of those parameters to something else.
  • For example, maybe a bootable tool you downloaded in ISO format advised on its website to make sure the file system is FAT32 instead of NTFS if you're burning to USB.
Benefits Drawbacks
✔ Various Linux distributions to choose from ✘ USB drive formatting necessary
✔ Can create portable operating systems
✔ Also functions with Windows ISO files

Extract ISO Images With a File Compression Program

File size Formatting necessary?
Rufus 945KB Yes
WinUSB 4.7MB No
UNetbootin 4.6MB Yes

Suggestion: Back up Windows & Restore System

In that case, make that change before continuing. You're welcome to enter a custom volume label in the Volume labelfield, but leaving it at whatever the default happens to be, or even blank, shouldn't have any impact on anything.

Under Format Options, inside the Show advanced format options menu, you'll see a number of..yes, format options!

  • You can leave all of them in their default state, but you're welcome to select Check device for bad blocks if you have some concern that the flash drive or USB device you're using may have an issue. Choosing 1 pass is just fine in most cases but knock that up to 2 or more if you've had issues with this drive before. Select START to start the "burning" of the ISO file to the USB device you chose. If you get an Image is too big message, you'll need to use a larger USB device or choose a smaller ISO image.
  • Read any warning messages and address them appropriately. For example, select OK to the WARNING: ALL DATA ON DEVICE 'XYZ' WILL BE DESTROYED message that appears next. Take this message seriously! Make sure the flash drive or other USB device is empty or that you're fine with erasing everything on it. You might also see a Download required message if Rufus needs some additional files to complete the burn process. Selecting Yes will start that download.
  • Wait while Rufus properly formats the USB drive so it's bootable, and then copies all the files to the drive that are contained in the ISO image you selected earlier.
  • The total time to do this depends very much on how large the ISO file is that you're working with. Some small diagnostic tools take under one minute, while larger images (like a 5 GB Windows 11 ISO) could take closer to 20 minutes.
  • Your computer and USB hardware speeds are a big factor here as well.
  • Once the status at the bottom of the Rufus program window says READY, you can close Rufus and remove the USB drive. How To Create a Windows 10 Bootable USB. Now that the ISO file is properly "burned," you can boot from the USB device and then continue with whatever it is you're using this drive for.
  • For example, if you've put a memory testing program on a flash drive, you can now boot from that flash drive and test your RAM with it.

The same goes for bootable hard drive testing programs, data wipe programs, antivirus tools, etc. Booting from a USB drive is often as easy as plugging the drive in to any free USB port and then restarting your computer, but it can sometimes be much more complicated.

See the tutorial linked above if you need help. You're more than welcome to use the procedure we've outlined above with Rufus for Windows ISO images, like those you might have downloaded for Windows 11, Windows 10, etc.

However, there is a more "official" procedure that uses free software from Microsoft. We've written complete tutorials on these procedures, which also includes guidance on other aspects of installing Windows from a USB stick.

See How to Install Windows 8 From USB or How to Install Windows 7 From USB, depending on the version of Windows you're installing.

Rufus, and related ISO-to-USB tools, are great when you need to get some sort of bootable program, or even an entire operating system, onto a USB drive.

However, what if you have an ISO image that you want to "burn" to a USB drive that isn't intended to be booted from?

An ISO of Microsoft Office comes to mind as a common example.
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