I’m preparing to attend a conference where were were asked to bring an 8GB (empty) USB stick.
I’ve got one, but I have configured it to be recognized by most BIOS systems as a “bootable” USB device. Then I copied all my Custom Win PE Boot Disk files to it. Now I can use it to quickly boot a system and have all my key portable tools and utilities right at hand in a Win PE 3.0 environment.
So the thought of wiping it out didn’t appeal much to me.
To work around this, I’ve used Alexander Beug's USB Image Tool freeware utility to make an image of it. Then when the conference is over, I will make an image of that new file-set, then restore my original USB load.
It’s a great and simple tool to use.
The only trick for making images of USB bootable devices is found in the FAQ.
Q: What is the difference between device and volume mode?
In contrast to the volume mode, the device mode copies the whole USB device, including boot sector. So if you want to make a backup of a bootable USB device, or you have created a flash drive with more than one partition, you should use the device mode. The volume mode processes the first volume on an USB flash drive. Windows currently limits removable USB flash drives to only one volume. As long as the partition information on the flash drive doesn’t change and it is not a bootable device, it is ok to use the volume mode.
Q: I restored an image of a bootable USB flash drive. Why does it not boot anymore?
A: Volume images do not contain the boot sector. A boot sector holds the boot loader, which makes the USB flash drive bootable. You can use the device mode to create an image of a bootable USB device.
So, select the “Volume Mode” method option and you should be fine.
Creating the “bootable” USB device.
Most USB devices aren’t “bootable” by default. You have to perform some voodoo to get it correctly configured. Then you can copy your actual “booting” system to it.
In my case, since i am using WinBuilder and Win PE as my sources, I simply followed this excellent guide.
However there are several additional tools and techniques that could be used to accomplish a similar thing.
- Building Community One Brick At A Time : A Bootable USB utility to create bootable USB drives for Win 7 and Server 2008 – Stephen Rose
- UNetbootin - Homepage and Downloads
- Create Bootable USB Pendrives – Blogsolute
- RMPrepUSB - Bootable USB format utility
- How To Make and Use a Bootable WinPE Drive : USB Flash Drives – Tom’s Guide
- How do you make a USB drive bootable so I can load W7 on a netbook? - Windows 7 Forums
- HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool - v2.1.8 Download - EXTREME Overclocking
- Boot From A USB Flash Drive – BootDisk.com
- USB Tricks for Vista and Windows 7 – Grand Stream Dreams blog
Do Google Search and you will quickly find even more links and resources.
Dead-handy to have for any incident responder and/or system technician.