Write a boot sector to USB drive

Posted on 2003-03-20
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-08-13
Hi all,

I have a USB drive that i would like to make bootable. My bios supports booting to USB devices, and seeing as it acts like a normal hard drive under windows (ie, can be formatted with different filesystems, partitioned, labeled, etc) i figure all i need to do is write a boot sector to it and copy the necessary files.

Which is where my problem begins. As the device is only accessible under windows, i can't use the various DOS boot-sector-writing programs.

Ideally, i'm after a windows program that will let me copy boot-sectors from an existing drive/partition (harddisk, cd, floppy) to the USB drive, or write directly using a list of known boot-sectors (ie, DOS, Win95, Win98... Linux, etc).

- No, the drive does not come with a utility to make it bootable.
- Yes, it's claimed to be able to be made bootable.
- No, "SYS X:" doesn't work.
- Yes, i know "dd" would probably work under Linux, but... i'm not.

Points will be awarded as follows (to one or more people):
    100 points: The first answer to enable me to boot of _my_ USB drive.
    100 points: A working solution to copy various boot-sectors.
    * Significantly helpful advice might also attract points.

Thanks all,

- Xiper
Question by:xiper
Welcome to Experts Exchange

Add your voice to the tech community where 5M+ people just like you are talking about what matters.

  • Help others & share knowledge
  • Earn cash & points
  • Learn & ask questions
  • 4
  • 2
  • 2
  • +1

Expert Comment

ID: 8179436
What kind of drive is it?  Who manufactures it?

Expert Comment

ID: 8179977
Make a dos boot floppy with USB Hard disk support. You can get DOS usb drivers at the link below.


after you write the USB image to the floppy, copy the fdisk program to the floppy. If your system does not have fdisk then download fdisk.exe from the net. The version of fdisk must support /cmbr Reboot with the floppy then type

fdisk /cmbr d: (whatever your drive is). Then copy all of your files from your a drive to your usb drive.

You can now boot from a usb drive. Sorry you don't like using dd. I have never found any programs as good as dd or installboot, for windows. You should be able to use dd.exe for dos, to copy over boot images along with boot blocks. I am not too familiar with it though.

Expert Comment

ID: 8180004

It has some tools that allow you to copy boot sectors and save them so you can copy them to a disk later. Use the one from powerquest. You should be able to pull boot sectors from cdroms and floppies also.
Video: Liquid Web Managed WordPress Comparisons

If you run run a WordPress, you understand the potential headaches you may face when updating your plugins and themes. Do you choose to update on the fly and risk taking down your site; or do you set up a staging, keep it in sync with your live site and use that to test updates?

LVL 12

Expert Comment

ID: 8180050
usb boot is still work in progress, and just because you have the bios option choice, it may not be implemented.

Author Comment

ID: 8192443
Thanks all for you comments.


    I purposely didn't mention the name of the drive because i wanted a generic answer that could be used with any usb flash drive. If it helps tho', www.usb007.com, 128MB.

gurriero33t (1):

    Thanks for your solution, however i could not get it to work.

- I tried the DUSE v4.3 dos USB drivers, and it detected a "USB Storage Device", but gave the error: Failed to Initialise Device (or something like that). I located a newer version (v4.4), same result.

- The syntax for the fdisk command you specify is: fdisk /cmbr <device number> (not drive letter). And i think this will only work for physical devices referenced in the bios. Additionally, it is my understanding that this command copies the MBR from the start of the first physical hard-disk, which in my case would be a multi-boot loader...

- Be careful to distinguish between the Master Boot Record (beginning of physical drive, contains general exec code and partition table), and Boot Sector (stored at the start of an "active" partition or floppy disk, contains os-specific exec code). I'm not sure if a usb drive has a MBR like a hard drive, i suspect only a boot sector like floppies.

- Located and tried dd.exe for dos, ran it under windows, "invalid transfer type" when trying to transfer MBR to usb drive.

gurriero33t (2):
    Thanks for the link, however i've looked through the page/site/links and the only utilities references deal with MBR's. The powerquest util you mention only saves and restores the main MBR to/from disk.

    Bootable USB devices have been around for a while, and bios support for even longer. My bios defiantly does support booting off USB (as most do), as it detects the drive on startup, and attempts to read the device with the message "invalid system disk" etc when told to boot off it.

Unfortunately, i'm still not any closer...

Accepted Solution

TascoDLX earned 400 total points
ID: 8193508
> I purposely didn't mention the name of the drive because
> i wanted a generic answer that could be used with any
> usb flash drive. If it helps tho', www.usb007.com, 128MB.

It helps more than you know.

You said:

> No, the drive does not come with a utility to make it bootable.

As I am aware, the drive comes with a Driver CD.  On that CD is a User's Manual.  The manual along with the drivers are located here, as well:


The User's Manual has three points of interest:

1) The instructions for installing the drive's application software are located in section 8.1.

2) The instructions for running the software are located in section 8.2.

3) The instructions for making your drive boot are located in section 8.7.

Hope this helps!

Expert Comment

ID: 8193643
You kept us all in the dark by not telling us it was a pen-style drive, which is a totally different type of mass storage device and requires different drivers (usually supplied with the pen device).

You should accept TascoDLX's answer.

Expert Comment

ID: 8193644
You kept us all in the dark by not telling us it was a pen-style drive, which is a totally different type of mass storage device and requires different drivers (usually supplied with the pen device).

You should accept TascoDLX's answer.

Author Comment

ID: 8200783
Okay, now i'm feeling ripped-off and very stupid... :(

The drive was supplied with a disk containing an older version of the manual & security app, which doesn't mention anything about booting off it. AND i downloaded the zip from the site (v2.2) when i got the drive a month ago, and it didn't mention anything either. AND i googled the site for "boot" with no luck. Hence my comment re 'no utility available', hence the reason i started looking around for a generic solution, hence the reason i came here...

And _then_ they upload a newer version, which contains the rare elusive make-me-bootable util... <bangs head on desk>

HTTP headers reveal:
Last-Modified: Tue, 25 Feb 2003 11:21:10 GMT
which must have been _just_ after i downloaded the file...

(Everyone thinks "yeah, yeah...")

So thankyou for your help, have some easy-earned points!

And appologies for the "usb-interface external hard drive" v "usb flash drive" confusion, after reading my original post it _was_ unintentionally ambigious (well, _i_ call them "USB Drives"...).

Keep in mind, the second 100 point question still hasn't been <checks for updated drivers again> answered, if anyone wants more points.

Featured Post

New feature and membership benefit!

New feature! Upgrade and increase expert visibility of your issues with Priority Questions.

Question has a verified solution.

If you are experiencing a similar issue, please ask a related question

#Citrix #POC #XenDesktop #vCenter #VMware #ESX
I use more than 1 computer in my office for various reasons. Multiple keyboards and mice take up more than just extra space, they make working a little more complicated. Using one mouse and keyboard for all of my computers makes life easier. This co…
This is used to tweak the memory usage for your computer, it is used for servers more so than workstations but just be careful editing registry settings as it may cause irreversible results. I hold no responsibility for anything you do to the regist…
Hi friends,  in this video  I'll show you how new windows 10 user can learn the using of windows 10. Thank you.
Suggested Courses

765 members asked questions and received personalized solutions in the past 7 days.

Join the community of 500,000 technology professionals and ask your questions.

Join & Ask a Question