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How to Create Bootable USB Drives and SD Cards For Windows and Linux

Installing an operating system of choice can be done by downloading an ISO and burning it onto a CD or DVD, however this is not the case when it comes to using USB drives.

The process is different for each operating system.

Copy files from an ISO disc image directly onto your USB drive does not work since the USB drive’s data partition is not bootable.

This means one has to make it one, a process that usually wipes your USB drive or SD card data.

It is advisable to use USB 3.0 drive. USB 2.0 has been around forever, and everything supports it, but it’s notoriously slow. It is much better making the upgrade to USB 3.0 since you can get 10x the speed.

Creating from a Windows 7 or Windows 10 ISO

Use Microsoft’s own Windows USB/DVD download tool to create a bootable drive you can install Windows from. You’ll need a Windows installer ISO file to run this tool. If you don’t have one, you can download Windows 10, 8, or 7 installation media for free — you’ll need a legitimate product key to use them, though.

Provide the ISO file and a USB flash drive and the tool will create a bootable drive.

Creating from a Linux ISO

the Universal USB Installer is recommended for creating bootable Linux USB drives on Windows. This tool can create bootable disc images for many different Linux distributions.

Download the Linux distribution you want to use in .ISO form. Run the tool, select your desired distribution, browse to your downloaded ISO file, and choose the USB drive you want to use. The tool will do the rest.

In case you have a Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 product key, you can download installation media directly from Microsoft and create a USB drive all at once. Download the appropriate tool from the Upgrade Windows with only a product key page. Run it, provide your product key, and tell the wizard you want to create a bootable USB drive.


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