How to Create a Bootable USB from ISO Files  



Anyone using a PC today has faced issues with their operating system at least once. In today’s digital age, the ability to create a bootable USB drive from an ISO file has become an essential skill for IT professionals, system administrators, and tech-savvy users alike.

There are many uses for creating a bootable USB drive. Installing a new operating system, running a live environment, or perform system recovery. Having a bootable USB drive can be a lifesaver. However, the process of creating one may seem daunting, especially for those unfamiliar with the technicalities involved.

Fear not! This detailed guide will walk you through the step-by-step process of creating a bootable USB drive from an ISO file. This will ensure you have a reliable and portable solution for your computing needs.

What exactly is an ISO File?

Before we dive into the process of creating a bootable USB, it’s important to understand what an ISO file is. An ISO file, also known as an ISO image, is an archive file that contains an exact copy or image of a CD, DVD, or other optical disc. These files are commonly used to distribute software, operating systems, and other digital content.


Before you begin the process of creating a bootable USB from an ISO file, ensure you have the following:

  1. The ISO File: Obtain the ISO file you wish to create a bootable USB for. This could be an operating system installation image, a live environment, or any other ISO file you require.
  2. A USB Drive: You’ll need a USB drive with sufficient storage capacity to accommodate the ISO file. It’s recommended to use a USB drive with at least 8GB of storage space for most purposes.
  3. Bootable USB Creation Tool: You’ll need a specialized tool or software to create the bootable USB drive from the ISO file. Several options are available, both free and paid, which we’ll discuss in the next section.

Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Bootable USB from ISO

To create a bootable USB drive from an ISO file, you can look into the following steps; 

Step 1: Download the ISO File

The very first step you need to take is to download the ISO file you want to create a bootable USB for. Ensure you download the ISO file from a trusted source to avoid any potential security risks or compatibility issues.

Step 2: Choosing a Bootable USB Creation Tool for your ISO

There are several tools available for creating bootable USB drives from ISO files. Some of the popular options include; 

  1. Rufus (Windows): Rufus is a free and open-source utility for creating bootable USB drives on Windows. It supports a wide range of file systems, including FAT32, NTFS, and exFAT, and can create bootable USB drives from various ISO files, including Windows, Linux, and other operating systems.
  2. Etcher (Windows, macOS, Linux): Etcher is a free and open-source utility that runs on Windows, macOS, and Linux. It provides a simple and user-friendly interface for creating bootable USB drives from ISO files.
  3. UNetbootin (Windows, Linux): UNetbootin is a free utility that can create bootable USB drives from various Linux distributions, as well as other operating systems and utilities.
  4. Windows To Go Creator (Windows): If you’re creating a bootable USB drive for Windows, you can use the built-in Windows To Go Creator tool. This tool is available in Windows 8 and later versions.

Choose the tool that best suits your operating system and preferences.

Step 3: Prepare the USB Drive

Before creating the bootable USB drive, you’ll need to prepare the USB drive by formatting it and ensuring it’s compatible with the creation tool you’ve chosen. Here are the general steps:

  1. Back up any important data: Ensure you back up any important data on the USB drive, as the formatting process will erase all existing data.
  2. Format the USB Drive: Format the USB drive using the appropriate file system for your chosen creation tool. Most tools support FAT32, NTFS, or exFAT file systems.
  3. Check USB Drive Compatibility: Some creation tools may have specific requirements for the USB drive, such as a minimum storage capacity or supported file systems. Ensure your USB drive meets these requirements before proceeding.

Step 4: Create the Bootable USB

With the ISO file downloaded, the USB drive prepared, and the creation tool chosen, you’re ready to create the bootable USB drive. Here are the general steps:

  1. Launch the Creation Tool: Open the bootable USB creation tool you’ve chosen and navigate to the appropriate option for creating a bootable USB drive from an ISO file.
  2. Select the ISO File: Browse and select the ISO file you downloaded in Step 1.
  3. Select the USB Drive: Choose the USB drive you prepared in Step 3 as the target for creating the bootable USB.
  4. Configure Additional Settings: Some creation tools may offer additional settings or options, such as bootloader configuration or partition schemes. Review and adjust these settings as needed.
  5. Start the Creation Process: Initiate the process of creating the bootable USB drive from the ISO file. This may take some time, depending on the size of the ISO file and the speed of your USB drive.
  6. Wait for Completion: Once the process is complete, you’ll have a bootable USB drive ready for use.

Step 5: Boot from the USB Drive

With the bootable USB drive created, you can now use it to boot your computer or install the operating system or application contained in the ISO file. Here are the general steps:

  1. Insert the USB Drive: Insert the bootable USB drive into an available USB port on your computer.
  2. Configure Boot Order: Access your computer’s BIOS or UEFI settings and configure the boot order to prioritize booting from the USB drive.
  3. Save and Restart: Save the changes to the boot order and restart your computer.
  4. Boot from the USB Drive: Upon restarting, your computer should detect the bootable USB drive and present you with the boot menu or installation options for the operating system or application contained in the ISO file.
  5. Follow the On-Screen Instructions: Proceed with the installation or live environment by following the on-screen instructions provided by the operating system or application.

Tips and Best Practices

To ensure a smooth and successful process when creating a bootable USB from an ISO file, consider the following tips and best practices:

  1. Use a High-Quality USB Drive: Opt for a reputable USB drive from a reliable manufacturer to ensure compatibility and stability.
  2. Verify the ISO File: Before creating the bootable USB, verify the integrity of the ISO file by checking its hash or digital signature to ensure it hasn’t been corrupted.
  3. Use the Latest Software Versions: Keep your bootable USB creation tool and operating system updated to the latest versions to ensure compatibility and access to the latest features and bug fixes.
  4. Back Up Important Data: Always back up any important data on your USB drive or computer before creating a bootable USB or performing any system installation or maintenance tasks.
  5. Test the Bootable USB: After creating the bootable USB, it’s a good practice to test it on a non-critical system to ensure it boots and functions correctly before using it on your primary computer.

Common Issues and Troubleshooting

While creating a bootable USB from an ISO file is generally a straightforward process, you may encounter some common issues. Here are a few troubleshooting tips:

  1. Boot Order Issues: If your computer is not booting from the USB drive, double-check the boot order settings in your BIOS or UEFI and ensure the USB drive is prioritized. To access thje BIOS settings just 
  2. USB Drive Compatibility: Some older systems may have compatibility issues with certain USB drives or file systems.
  3. Corrupted ISO File: If the bootable USB drive fails to boot or encounters errors, the ISO file you used might be corrupted. Download the ISO file again from a trusted source and verify its integrity before creating a new bootable USB.
  4. Insufficient Storage Space: Ensure that your USB drive has enough storage space to accommodate the ISO file and any additional files required for the bootable environment.
  5. Disable Secure Boot: On some systems, you may need to disable Secure Boot in the BIOS or UEFI settings to allow booting from a non-certified bootable USB drive.


Creating a bootable USB drive from an ISO file is a valuable skill that can simplify various tasks. These include; installing operating systems to running live environments or performing system recovery. By following this guide, you can create reliable and portable bootable USB drives with ease.

It is important to remember that the process may vary slightly depending on your operating system. Other factors include; the creation tool you choose, and the specific ISO file you’re working with. However, the general principles remain the same: download the ISO file, prepare the USB drive, choose a creation tool, and follow the prompts to create the bootable USB.

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