A moan, a groan, my life story and how me, a technically minded person just can't seem to fit in with anybody.

Archive for October, 2008

Make Portable/Removable Hard Drive/Memory Stick Bootable

I’m not going to babble on here because if you have found this post you just want to know how it’s done.

Here is what you need:

A portable/removable hard drive/memory stick (USB) that is capable of being made into a bootable device. Some of these devices cant be made bootable; if you are unsure if yours can be made bootable then contact the manufacture. I have successfully made portable Maxtor, Western Digital and Freecom USB hard drives bootable ranging from 40GB to 320GB in size. I have also made a handful of generic USB sticks bootable ranging from 512MB to 8GB in size so it should be unlikely you will have a device that cannot be made bootable.

You will need a computer that can boot from a USB device.

You will also need an existing boot disk of some sort. I find what works best is a Windows 95 boot disk. If you are going to use a floppy or CD then you can get images from

So now lets get prepped! Now we are going to use a fat32 partition for our boot partition. Now the max size for fat32 partition on Windows 95 is, have a guess, 32GB so if you have a portable drive that is 320GB then you will need 2 partitions. The second partition can be NTFS and can fill up the rest of the drive, but the first partition must be fat32 less than 32GB. Just as a side note will tell you what cluster size to use depending on what size your partition is.

Now have you set up your Windows 95 boot disk? If you have downloaded the ISO then burn it to a CD and if you have downloaded the diskette image then run it and get the image on the floppy disk.

Shutdown your PC and insert floppy/CD and plug in your USB device. I would recommend you unplug any other hard drives in your system so that you don’t have any confusion later on and so that you don’t accidentally break your windows install on your PC.

Tell your PC to boot from floppy or CD and wait for Windows 95 to start. You will be presented with:


Now type fdisk and hit enter:


What you are going to do here is set your USB device to the active partition this should be under option 2 on fdisk (This is the FAT32 partition). Once you have set the partition to active you should now see a capital A on that partition. Press escape a couple of times and you will be prompted to reboot. So go ahead and do that, then boot back into your floppy or CD.

Now your USB drive should be set as C: so type dir C:

[code]A:>dir C:[/code]

You should see no files and it should tell you the space available of that drive, it should match the size of the partition. Now lets copy the contents of the floppy or CD to your USB device. Type copy *.* C:\*

[code]A:>copy *.* C:\*[/code]

Once that has coppied type in sys C:

[code]A:>sys C:[/code]

This copies the system info to the USB device. Now just need to set up a Master Boot Record so type fdisk /mbr

[code]A:>fdisk /mbr[/code]

Ok so we are all done now, so reboot and try booting up off your USB device. Now you should see your usual A:> just as if you booted off CD or Floppy.

So that’s about it, you can load up a load of useful DOS utilities. If your using a hard drive with an NTFS partition you might want to put on your new bootable USB device a program called NTFS4DOS. This will give you access to NTFS partitions from DOS. Also another handy utility is Ghost. This will allow you to take an image of any hard drive and put it in one handy file. With that one file you can then restore that image, ideal for taking an image of a fresh install of and operating system and then restoring when you come to reinstall. This will save you having to redo the windows install and reinstall all your software, patches and user preferences.

So there we have it, if you have any problems or want to know more just leave a comment and I will get back to you ASAP.