How to Convert a USB Flash Drive to a Bootable Drive

By J.S. Copper

If you have a spare USB flash drive on hand, it's not a bad idea to use it as a bootable drive should anything ever happen to your computer. Making the USB flash drive a bootable drive takes just a few command-line actions to properly format it. After the drive is formatted as a bootable device, you must copy bootable software to the contents of the drive. This is done by simply copying over the files on a boot CD, restore disc or Windows installation disc.

Things You'll Need

  • Windows Vista DVD
  • USB flash drive

Step 1

Insert the Windows Vista DVD into the computer's optical drive. Navigate to the disc's \"Boot\" folder and copy \"bootsect.exe\" to the computer's C: folder.

Step 2

Insert the USB drive into an open USB slot in your computer. Right-click the drive within \"My Computer\" and select \"Format.\"

Step 3

Set the drive to the NTFS file system and format it by selecting \"Format.\"

Step 4

Type \"cmd\" into the Windows Start menu's Search box. Right-click \"Command Prompt\" and select \"Run As Administrator.\" You may be asked to enter your password.

Step 5

Type \"diskpart\" into the Command Prompt window and press \"Enter.\"

Step 6

Type \"list volume\" and press \"Enter\" to get a list of all available drives. The USB drive will be listed as removable media. It is best if only one USB drive is connected, so as to not be confused. Make note of the associated letter (Ltr) and volume number.

Step 7

Type \"select volume 123\" and press \"Enter.\" Replace \"123\" with the actual volume number noted in Step 6.

Step 8

Type \"activate\" and press \"Enter.\"

Step 9

Type \"exit\" and press \"Enter.\"

Step 10

Type \"cd C:\\\" if you are directed back to the C: folder by default. The command prompt will display \"C:\\>_\" after it is back in the C: folder.

Step 11

Type \"bootsect.exe /nt60 ABC:\" and press \"Enter.\" Replace \"ABC\" with the associated letter noted in Step 6. After the process completes, the USB drive is fully bootable. To properly function, the USB must contain bootable data. Copy the contents of a Windows installation disc or boot CD to the USB flash drive.