How to make a USB drive bootable from an ISO: 6 essential free tools

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Looking to create a bootable USB drive from the ISO file of Windows 10, Linux, or another operating system? In this folder, we offer a selection of free applications that should make your job easier.

Credit: Unsplash

Creating a bootable USB drive to reinstall Windows 10 or install another operating system is not necessarily a trivial task. The tools in this selection should nevertheless help you not to spend too much time there.

1. The official Windows tool for creating USB installation media

Windows 10 Installation Support

Benefits :

  • The only real official method recommended by Microsoft
  • Very easy to use

The inconvenients :

  • Limited to a handful of versions of Windows
  • Cannot deviate from basic parameters

Theofficial Microsoft installation media creation tool is arguably the best solution if you want to create a bootable install volume for Windows 10. The assistant is basic and rather limited, but it does the job perfectly without asking you any questions or asking you to set complicated parameters. To use it, simply download the wizard by clicking on the link below and simply follow the on-screen instructions.

Download Windows 10 Installation Media Creation Tool

2. Rufus, the well-known reference for hackers

Rufus

Benefits :

  • One of the most popular tools on the net with loads of resources to help you
  • Automatically detects optimum settings based on your ISO
  • Allows you to modify everything with very advanced features
  • Not limited to Windows

The inconvenients :

  • Can be too complex especially if you just want to reinstall Windows 10
  • Not necessarily the fastest tool

Rufus is a much more comprehensive tool than Microsoft’s official installation media creation tool. You can transfer any operating systems installation ISO file to a USB drive and make it bootable. As a bonus, many very advanced options will allow you to adapt to the most particular cases and the specificities of certain motherboards. In the event of a problem, you can count on a large community of users. However, if having to define complicated parameters scares you, other alternatives of this selection will undoubtedly be more suitable.

Download Rufus

3. YUMI is one of the most complete and fastest alternatives for Linux, Windows, and recovery discs

yumi

Benefits :

  • Very easy to use
  • Large selection of operating systems and troubleshooting tools
  • The program can download the correct ISO on its own if necessary
  • Quite fast

Disadvantages:

  • Fewer options to customize

YUMI (Your Universal Multiboot Installer) is undoubtedly the best alternative to the two tools mentioned above, in particular because YUMI is easier to use than Rufus, while being much more versatile than the Windows installation volume creation tool. Cherry on the cake, with YUMI, you won’t need to upload the ISO file you want to make bootable : select your operating system from the drop-down menu – YUMI downloads it and does the rest!

Download YUMI

4. Try UNetbootin one of the fastest solutions

unetbootin

Benefits :

  • Very easy to use
  • Large selection of operating systems and troubleshooting tools
  • The program can download the correct ISO on its own if necessary

Disadvantages:

  • Few options to customize settings
  • Bug with NTFS file system

Aetbootin is also a very popular solution, and for good reason: we have an application similar to YUMI which can download the correct ISO on its own and put it on a USB stick without further processing. Note, however, that bugs are reported with Windows 10 images and the NTFS file system. There is a trick to work around the problem – with very abundant resources on the subject.

Download UNetbootin

5. RMPrepUSB is for you if you have a very special use case

rmprepusb

Benefits :

  • More complete than its competitors
  • Wide choice of operating systems
  • Wide choice of bootladers (grub4dos, syslinux, QEMU …)
  • Vast choice of troubleshooting tools (DiskDoctor, Speed ​​Tests, etc.)
  • Ability to create configuration files to automate everything
  • Large community of users to help you

Disadvantages:

  • A bit complex to use
  • A little slow when creating volume

If you are looking for the most complete tool, go without hesitation for RMPrepUSB. Not only does it work for virtually all operating systems, but as an added bonus it offers a huge selection of different bootloaders and tools to quickly find problems if they arise. System administrators will appreciate the ability to create configuration files that fully automate the operation. Obviously with such a choice of options and features, this tool is not necessarily for everyone. However, we advise you not to be frightened by its interface, because the program has the advantage of having a large community of users who can help you achieve your goals.

Download RMPrepUSB

6. Novicorp WinToFlash Lite is not the fastest tool but it can test your USB drive without restarting

wintoflash

Benefits :

  • Fairly easy to use
  • Automatically fills in the correct parameters based on your ISO
  • Can automatically download your ISO
  • Possibility to customize the media anyway (file format, bootloader, etc.)
  • Possibility to create a multiboot USB key
  • Includes a tool that tests whether your USB drive is truly bootable without having to restart the computer
  • Possibility to automate the operation via configuration files

Disadvantages:

  • A little slow
  • The tool is less well known and has a smaller user base

The last tool in our selection is much less known, but we appreciate its qualities compared to other tools. WinToFlash comes in two versions – here we are talking about the completely free Lite version. What is rather nice about this program is that it is easy to use, while allowing you to define specific parameters if desired. It allows you to create multiboot USB keys, and like some competitors, it is possible to automate operations with configuration files. In addition, it is one of the only tools to offer a boot test of your USB key without requiring you to restart the computer and / or change your BIOS settings. In the event of a problem, however, you may have a little more trouble finding help in French than with the tools in pole position of this selection. However, you will have the choice to upgrade to the paid version and benefit from the developer’s help.

Download Novicorp WinToFlash Lite