How to create bootable USB drives in very simple steps

Previously people would use a CD to install different operating systems. But now these CD’s are mostly replaced by USB thumb drives. As these USB drives are small, fast, durable, rewriteable, and easy to carry.

Bootable USB drives are really important when you need to repair your pc or install a new operating system. You should always have a repair disk or a bootable USB drive of your operating system lying around. So that when something goes wrong with your system you should have a recovery option.


  • An 8Gb USB thumb drive. (A 4GB USB drive can also work if OS is a lightweight distro of Linux.)
  • An ISO disk image of the Operating system you want to have a bootable drive.
  • A computer with administrator privileges.
  • Internet connection to download software.

Create a bootable USB drive on Windows

On a Windows computer, you can either use a tool from Microsoft, command prompt, or a sperate application like Rufus. We for the purpose of this tutorial are using Rufus. Rufus is a free open-source tool and creating a bootable USB drive using Rufus is also very easy. You can download Rufus from here.

Warning: All data on your USB flash drive will be deleted so backup before proceeding any further.
Create bootable Usb on Windows using Rufus
  • Plug the USB flash drive in the PC.
  • Open Rufus and check the USB flash drive selected in Device is the same USB flash drive that you want to use to create a bootable USB drive.
  • Click on SELECT to browse to the ISO image of the operating system that you want to use.
  • Now click START, and a prompt will appear saying all data on the USB drive will be deleted click on OK to proceed. Wait for a few minutes and your bootable USB flash drive will be created.

You can also change the partition scheme and Target system according to your system type. But in general, the default setting of Rufus should work fine.

If for some reason you don’t want to use Rufus or if it doesn’t seem to work for you then follow the steps below to create a bootable USB flash drive through CMD. Although we recommend using Rufus as it makes the process really easy.

Create a Bootable USB drive using CMD

Plug USB drive into the system and follow the steps below.

  • Search for CMD in search pannel, right-click on command prompt and select Run as administrator.
  • Type diskpart in command prompt and press enter. This command is used to open inbuilt disk part utility of windows.
  • Then type list disk and press enter. This command lists all the storage disks connected to your system.
  • Looking at the size of drives you can identify which is your USB flash drive. Now select USB flash drive, type select disk 2 in command prompt and press enter. (Here change the disk number according to your system.)
  • Now verify that selected USB flash drive is actually the drive you wanted to select by matching sizes from the above command.
  • Type clean and press enter.(This will delete all the data on the USB drive.)
  • Type create partition primary and press enter.
  • Then type select partition 2 and press enter. (Choosing the ‘partition 2′ for setting up it as an active partition.)
  • Type format=fs NTFS quick and press enter. (Formatting current partition as NTFS file system quickly.)
  • Type active and press enter.
  • Type exit and hit enter.
  • Now just double click on the ISO file and the file will be mounted, just copy all the files of ISO file into the created USB drive.

This creates your bootable USB drive.

Create a bootable USB on Linux

Open terminal either by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T or by typing Terminal in the search box. And follow the steps below.

  • Insert the USB stick in your system.
  • Type df in terminal and press enter.

The last line in the output of the command should be the USB stick. You can verify this by comparing the size of the drive. Now just note down the name of the device, in my case its /dev/sdc1.

  • Now umount the USB stick, for that type the command below in terminal.
sudo umount /dev/sdXX

You should replace the device name with whatever you noted down earlier. And press enter this will umount the USB drive. Now to create a bootable USB stick copy the command below and paste in the terminal.

sudo dd bs=4M if=/path of ISO file of=/dev/sdXX status=progress oflag=sync

Before pasting this command in terminal replace the path of ISO file with the actual location of ISO file on your system. And also replace name of device /dev/sdXX with actual device name on your system. Then press Enter, as the execution of command completes it will create a bootable USB drive.

Create a bootable USB drive on a MAC

Creating a bootable USB on a MAC is quite easy. So first just plug in a USB disk drive in your MAC.

  • Now open Disk Utility, and find USB drive in it. Click on USB drive and then click on Erase.
  • Here choose the name according to your choice, and select MS-DOS(FAT) as the format and then click on Erase.
  • Now when done formatting Erasing USB disk drive open terminal and type the command below.
df -h

Now, under Mounted on header look for the name of USB disk Drive(That you used while erasing). When you see the name just note down the filesystem name of that disk. (It should be like /dev/diskXXX.)

Now, again open disk utility and find USB disk drive and click on the eject symbol. This will Unmount the USB disk drive.

Flash the disk image on USB disk drive on a MAC

Now just locate the downloaded ISO image of the Operating system you want to use. It’s generally located in Downloads copy its path with the file name. And paste that in the command below while also replacing Device_name with the name you noted earlier.

sudo dd bs=1m if=ISO_image of=Device_name

Replace this and command should look something like this

sudo dd bs=1m if=/Downloads/Zorin_OS.iso of=/dev/disk2

Copy this command in terminal and press enter. Once this command completes you will have a bootable USB drive.

Hope you like this tutorial, if you like this please don’t forget to share it with your friends. Zorin OS is one the most lightweight and elegant Linux OS, so here is How to install Zorin OS alongside Windows and try Zorin OS.

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