How to Create a DOS Boot USB

Written by mark anderson
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How to Create a DOS Boot USB
USB drives can be formatted to boot your system in DOS. (flash drive image by jimcox40 from

Boot disks are a particular set-up of a removable media that allows users to install operating systems when there is an absence of one. They are particularly important because certain computers cannot recognise external media such as CD-ROM drives without an operating system. Traditionally boot disks were created with floppy disks. However, floppy disk technology has become obsolete in most computers, requiring a new media to create a boot disk with, such as a portable USB drive.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


    HP USB Disk Format Tool

  1. 1

    Download and install HP's USB Disk Format Tool (see Resources). Install the application with the default installation settings. Create a desktop shortcut with the installation.

  2. 2

    Download the boot disk files for DOS. A good resource for boot disk definitions is, which offers many free versions of DOS and Windows boot disk files. Save the download in the following directory: "C:\USBBoot\".

  3. 3

    Double-click the desktop shortcut you created to run the HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool. The utility will pop up in a new window.

  4. 4

    Plug the flash drive into the computer's USB slot.

  5. 5

    Select the name of the flash drive from the "Device:" drop-down list. Select "FAT32" as the file format from the "File System:" drop-down menu.

  6. 6

    Check the box titled "Create a DOS Startup Disk" in the "Format Options:" section of the utility. Select "using DOS system files located at:" and click on the "..." button to browse for your DOS boot disk definition.

  7. 7

    Select the "C:\USBBoot\" folder in the file browser and click "OK."

  8. 8

    Click the "Start" button to format the USB drive as a bootable drive.

    MKBT Utility

  1. 1

    Download and Install the MakeBootable Utility (see Resources). Install the MKBT application to your "C:\MKBT" directory.

  2. 2

    Download the boot disk files for DOS from Save the download in the following directory: "C:\MKBT\DOSBOOT\".

  3. 3

    Open the Windows Command Prompt from the Start menu by clicking "Start > Program Files > Accessories > Command Prompt."

  4. 4

    Type "cd C:\MKBT\" to command DOS to navigate to the MKBT folder. Then type "mkbt -c C:\MKBT\DOSBOOT\ bootsect.bin" to copy the bootdisk definition you downloaded.

  5. 5

    Open up "My Computer" from the Desktop and plug in the USB drive. The USB drive will appear in the My Computer window. Write down the letter that is designated for your USB drive. Typically, it will be letter "F:\" or above. Right-click on your USB drive and select "Format..." Select "FAT" from the "File Format" drop-down list. Click "OK" to format the USB drive.

  6. 6

    Type in "mkbt -x bootsect.bin F:" in the command prompt and press "Enter." Change the "F:" to the letter of your USB drive. This command will paste the bootsect.bin file to your USB drive, making the drive bootable.

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