How to Burn a Bootable ISO to a USB

Written by chad anderson
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How to Burn a Bootable ISO to a USB
USB drives are commonly used for installation. (Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images)

ISO disk images can be thought of as a container file, maintaining the structure and settings of a logical disk across different file systems. This feature makes ISO disk images perfect for moving large file structures such as system rescue disks, operating system installation disks, and other large groupings of files. Bootable ISO disk images are designed to boot separately from the hard disk. Many free software operating systems distribute their installers on ISO images. Since the disk image maintains the file structure, the image can be burnt to any CD, DVD or USB drive with enough free space.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Blank, unformatted USB drive with enough space

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    Unetbootin (Windows/Mac/Linux)

  1. 1

    Download and install Unetbootin from

  2. 2

    Launch Unetbootin once the installation is complete, then click the "Diskimage" option. Click to select "ISO" from the drop-down box, then click "..." and select your disk image using the file browser.

  3. 3

    Click to select "USB Drive" from the "Type:" drop-down box. Click to select the drive's ltter from the "Drive:" drop-down box.

  4. 4

    Click the "OK" button to burn your ISO disk image to the USB drive.

    dd (Mac/Linux)

  1. 1

    Launch your preferred terminal emulator. On Linux this will differ, under Mac OS X the Terminal application is located under the "Utilities" folder in the main "Applications" directory. Use the "cd" command to navigate into the directory where your disk image is stored.

  2. 2

    Type "su" then enter the root password to become the super user. If your system has the sudo package installed, skip this step and prepend any further command line instructions with the "sudo" command.

  3. 3

    Type "fdisk -l" to view your file system. Write down the physical location of the USB drive. On many systems this will be "/dev/USB" or "/dev/sdb" depending on your partition table.

  4. 4

    Type "dd if=disk.iso of=/dev/USB" where "disk.iso" is the name of your ISO disk image file and "/dev/USB" is the location of your USB drive.

  1. 1

    Download and install dd for Windows from

  2. 2

    Press the Windows key and "R" simultaneously to launch the Run dialogue. Type "cmd" and press the "Enter" key to open a command prompt. Use the "cd" command to navigate to the location of your ISO disk image.

  3. 3

    Type "dd --list" to view a list of your currently connected drives. Write down the reference link to the USB drive.

  4. 4

    Type "dd if=c:\temp\disk.iso of=\.\e:" where "c:\temp\disk.iso" is the location of the ISO disk image and "\.\e:" is the reference link of the USB drive.

Tips and warnings

  • Microsoft Windows does not come with built-in support for burning ISO disk images to USB drives, so a third-party application is required.
  • Make sure that you select the proper drive since none of these utilities check to ensure that the drive you specify is actually a USB drive and not your main operating system.

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