How to Convert a Bootable CD-ROM to a Flash Drive

Written by g.d. palmer
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There are a number of reasons to use a bootable CD-ROM, including an emergency backup for your operating system. Not all computers still have CD-ROM drives, though. Many smaller machines, including netbooks, have only USB and card inputs, which makes reinstalling an operating system or other important software much more difficult. The solution is to create a bootable USB drive from the CD you wish to run.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Bootable CD-ROM
  • Computer with CD-ROM drive
  • ISO image utility, such as Magic ISO
  • Flash drive
  • Bootable flash drive utility, such as Unetbootin

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  1. 1

    Insert the bootable CD-ROM in the CD-ROM drive. Open MagicISO or another ISO image utility. Click "Tools," "Make ISO from CD/DVD-ROM" or the equivalent in your program.

  2. 2

    Select the CD-ROM you intend to use. In MagicISO, this is located under "Source CD/DVD-ROM." Enter a file name for the bootable ISO, and choose ISO format under "Output format." Click "OK" to create the ISO.

  3. 3

    Plug in the flash drive. Open Unetbootin. Select the "Diskimage" radio button and locate the ISO file you just created. Make sure "ISO" format is selected, not "Floppy."

  4. 4

    Choose the USB drive you intend to make bootable, if Unetbootin doesn't detect it automatically. Press "OK" to copy the ISO to the flash drive. Your drive should now contain the information from the bootable CD. It should work in computers capable of booting from USB.

Tips and warnings

  • Older machines may not boot from USB flash drives.
  • You may have to reconfigure your computer's BIOS settings to boot from USB.

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