A few years ago, creating a bootable USB wasn’t easy. This mostly had to do with the fact that CDs were the main method for distributing operating systems. If you bought a laptop or a desktop some five or seven years ago, chances are it came with an ‘install disk’. If you go back further, the hardware for PCs that were custom built had their own install disks. Since then things have changed and you can download operating systems online and easily create a bootable USB for any OS provided you have the right app for it. Here’s what you need to do.

Download An ISO File

In order to create a bootable USB for a desktop operating system, you need a disk image. A disk image is the OS’ installation files packaged as an ISO file. An ISO is basically a file that contains files burned to an optical disk like a CD or DVD. It’s essentially whatever was on those install disks but in soft form rather than in hard form.

For Windows 10, you can download an ISO image via Microsoft’s Media Creation tool. You might need to search torrent sites of an ISO of Windows 7. For all Linux distributions, you can download an ISO from the distribution’s official page. You will only run into trouble if you’re trying to find an ISO for a macOS version as they aren’t easily available. Again, you might need to search torrents for them.

If you have to download via a Torrent, make sure it has a good rating and the file can be verified before you use it. We should also point out that you should have an license key for whichever OS requires it. This will not help you pirate an OS.

Burn To USB

Some operating systems like macOS come with utilities for burning a disc image to a USB but others do not. The Disk Utility in macOS is a bit complicated and if you’re a novice, you want something simpler. Give the Ethcher tool a try. It’s available for Windows, Linux, and macOS. All you need is your ISO file, and a USB. It will take care of everything in three simple steps. Make sure your USB has enough space to burn the file, and that it’s on the correct file system.

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Booting With A USB

Once you have your bootable USB, you can plug it in, and boot to the operating system that you burned to it. In some cases, you might need to change the boot order from your computer’s BIOS so that it reads the UBS before it reads the hard drive but other than that, there’s nothing to it.

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  • Will this work with an SD Card plugged into an SD port on a Win 10/64 computer?

    • No. These tools are built specifically for a USB. Also, an SD card slot/port cannot be booted from. You will need insert the SD card into a card reader and connect it to your system via a USB port.