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How to Mount a Bootable ISO Image on a Flash Drive

Many operating system developers create ISO images that you can burn to disk and use to boot or install the operating system. In most cases, the image is bootable so you can boot to the CD and load the operating system or set-up files without having to copy them to your hard drive. But if you do not have a CD/DVD drive or if you just want to save a blank disk, mount the ISO on a flash drive and boot your PC from it.

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  1. Download a program that allows you to manage ISO images on your PC. Applications such as Daemon Tools Lite, ISODIsk and Magic ISO are all easy-to-use programs that allow you to create, edit, open and mount ISO image files (see Resources).

  2. Click "Start," then "Computer." Browse to the folder where you saved the ISO program, then double click the downloaded file to start the set-up utility. Follow the on-screen instructions to install the program. Restart your computer it prompted to do so.

  3. Click "Start," then "Computer." Navigate to the folder that contains the ISO image file you want to mount on the USB flash drive.

  4. Right-click the file name of the ISO image, then click the "Mount" or "Virtual Disc" option on the pop-up window. Wait a few seconds for the ISO application to mount the image file and create a new virtual drive letter for it Windows Explorer.

  5. Connect the USB flash drive to the computer. Wait for Windows to detect the flash drive and configure it as a removable storage device.

  6. Click "Start," then "Computer." Take note of the drive letters created by Windows for both the virtual ISO drive and the USB flash drive.

  7. Click the "Start," button. Type "cmd" in the search box and press "Enter." If prompted a "User Account Control" window, click "Continue."

  8. Type the drive letter for the virtual ISO drive at the command prompt. For instance, if Windows assigned drive letter "F" to the virtual drive in Windows Explorer, enter the following syntax at the command prompt:

  9. "F:\" (without the quotes).

  10. Type the following command at the "F:\" prompt -- or the drive letter assigned by Windows for the virtual ISO drive:

  11. "Xcopy . h: /s/e/h/v" (again, leave out the quotes).

  12. Replace the "h:" variable with the driver letter assigned to the USB flash drive. Xcopy copies all of the files in the ISO image file to the USB flash drive. The "." variable instructs Xcopy to copy all files. The "s" switch tells the utility to include all directories and subdirectories. The "e" switch includes directories or subdirectories even if they are empty. The "h" switch instructs Xcopy to copy hidden system files. The "v" switch forces Xcopy to verify the integrity of the files copied.

  13. Close the "cmd" dialogue box. Disconnect the USB flash drive from your computer. You can now use the flash drive as a bootable device.

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Things You'll Need

  • ISO compression/mounting software

About the Author

Jeff Grundy has been writing computer-related articles and tutorials since 1995. Since that time, Grundy has written many guides to using various applications that are published on numerous how-to and tutorial sites. Born and raised in South Georgia, Grundy holds a Master of Science degree in mathematics from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

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