Thanks to USB sticks it’s now possible to put ISO images onto them and then boot the computer straight from the stick instead of burning them out to CD or DVD. This is a real plus if you don’t have an optical drive in your machine. Depending on the speed of your pen stick USB could be much faster than using even the fastest ROM drives. There are several tools available for all kinds of disc images to be written to USB, but each image could use a different loader to boot from which means there isn’t one single foolproof way of putting any image onto USB stick.
For example, a useful tool to put Windows 7 onto USB called WiNToBootic might be good for Windows 7, but is of no use for other ISO images. As most of us know, one of the best all round recovery and repair CD’s is Hiren’s BootCD and has long been one of the most valuable discs you could have in your repair toolkit. But getting Hiren from it’s default distribution format of ISO onto USB isn’t completely straightforward and you can’t just grab any ISO to USB tool and expect it to be successful.
The “official” method to achieve Hiren to USB direct from the Hiren website is getting a little old now and involves manually formatting the stick, installing the boot loader and then copying the files over from the ISO yourself. Thankfully there are much easier ways to get the job done with little more than a few mouse clicks.
Here’s 5 easy ways to install Hiren’s BootCD onto USB stick with the minimum of fuss, all you need is a copy of the Hiren’s BootCD ISO. The good news is that none of these tools need to be installed on your machine to be able to do it because they’re all portable.
Rufus is a great little tool that can write a number of different ISO images onto USB. In addition to Hiren it can also write a number of Linux and Windows based images, and also install a version MS-DOS or FreeDOS which is useful for such tasks as BIOS flashing. There’s also the option to run a multiple pass scan to check the USB stick or a memory card for bad block errors.
Using Rufus to write Hiren onto USB could barely get any easier, simply run the program and make sure your correct USB stick is selected (it will format all devices it writes to beforehand). Then click the browse for ISO button (arrowed) and locate the Hiren ISO image file. Click Start to write. You don’t need to change any other options unless you know what you’re doing. There’s also a useful log file button which can give you more detail if there’s a failure in the process.
Rufus works with Windows XP and newer operation systems and is proven to be one of the fastest tools around at doing this type of task.
SARDU is certainly a powerful tool for creating bootable USB sticks including multiple boot options. In this program a lot of the effort is taken out of the process of you finding the ISO images you want to include yourself. Most of the antivirus, utility, Linux and Windows images supported from within the program can be downloaded directly from within the SARDU program itself, or you will be pointed to the relevant website to get the ISO. Simply click the button on the image you’re interested in to find out more or download.
Ironically Hiren isn’t one of those images that can be downloaded from SARDU so you will already need to have it, but creating a USB Hiren is very easy in spite of the wealth of options and functions available. After you download and extract the SARDU zip you will need to copy the Hiren ISO into the ISO folder so it gets picked up by the program. After that run the sardu.exe or the sardu_64.exe.
Go to the Utility tab and make sure the Hiren’s BootCD entry has a tick by it, if not, check you have put the ISO file in the correct folder, it also needs the word “Hiren” somewhere in the file name. Then click “Search USB” for your pen stick to get picked up, and finally click the blue “Make a USB” button underneath.
This tool also has the ability to directly download a number of Linux, antivirus and utility ISO images from the original developer websites in addition to images you already have. There is also an interesting feature that will install the ISO onto your hard drive partition without destroying your data if you don’t have a USB stick. A function best left to experienced users.
Although UNetbootin can create a Hiren distribution on USB stick, there is a problem with the initial Hiren boot menu, but that can be easily rectified. When you run the program, select the Diskimage radio button and then use the button to browse for the Hiren ISO. Make sure Type is set to the default “USB Drive” and choose your pen stick’s drive letter from the Drive drop down. OK starts the process.
If you run the USB stick now the main menu will not function correctly and Mini XP will be missing for one thing. To correct this, open the pen stick in Explorer, go into the hbcd folder and rename the isolinux.cfg file to syslinux.cfg. Then copy it and go back in to the root of the pen stick, and paste the file overwriting the original syslinux.cfg file. This will put the original menu back.
UNetbootin is cross platform with support for Windows 200, XP, Vista, 7, Linux or Mac OS X. The resulting bootable USB’s will only be Windows compatible though.
4. Universal USB Installer
Universal USB Installer is another really easy program to use and requires very little effort from the user to get the Hiren ISO onto USB. Like SARDU and UNetbootin it too has the facility to download a vast array of Linux and other distributions by directly sending the link to your browser for download. A tick box will appear in step 1 if a download is available. Hiren’s BootCD is not downloadable using this method though.
Start the program and select Hiren’s BootCD from the drop down (it’s near the bottom), and then click to browse for the ISO on you computer. Step 3 will then become visible where you can select the USB stick’s drive letter and choose whether to format the device before writing the data. When you click Create there will be a confirmation dialog of the following actions to be performed.
YUMI (Your Universal Multiboot Installer) is by the same developer as Universal USB Installer above (pendrivelinux.com) and is quite similar, but offers the added ability of making your USB stick multi boot complete with its own boot menu.
Usage is almost the same as Universal USB Installer apart from the interface is laid out in a slightly different order. Select your USB stick and whether you want to format it first, then find and select Hiren’s BootCD from the list of distributions. Browse for the ISO you already have and finally click the Create button.
When the process completes a window will pop up asking if you want to add another distribution to the USB stick thus creating a multi boot device. If you choose to do this, it will take you back to the main window above where you can select another ISO image to be written to the stick.