With the advent of netbooks, tablets, and Macs that do not have an optical drive, we have had to advance the way we are able to install an OS or run diagnostic utilities. One of the most commonly recommended utility packages on PCTechBytes is the Ultimate Boot CD, or UBCD for short. I’ve already written an article and forum posting on how to obtain, burn, and use the UBCD so our readers would know about its wonders and troubleshooting abilities. But what if you don’t have any CD or DVD discs available or are troubleshooting a device without an optical drive as we mentioned above? That is where creating a bootable UBCD USB drive comes in handy!
Make It Bigger, Faster, Stronger
Let’s go ahead and dive right in and get our USB thumb drive formatted and properly set up. For some newer thumb drives you may be able to skip this step and just go directly into tossing your UBCD image on it but since this only takes a minute, best to do it and not have any errors. Go ahead and plug in your USB stick and we can begin.
– First, open up the Command Prompt (Windows Key + R: type “cmd” w/o quotes) and if you are not using an Admin account, go to the Start Button, Click All Programs then Accessories and right click on Command Prompt and tell it to Run As Administrator.
– Next, type “diskpart” without the quotes. This will fire up the Microsoft Disk Management Utility command line interface. On your screen you should see “DISKPART>” where “C:\Users\user>” was.
– Once here, type “list disk”. This will give you a listing of all available drives that Windows can currently see. Notice on my PC, you can see 4 different disks: Disk 0 through Disk 3 with Disk 3 being my 4GB thumb drive. Take note of what Disk # it is because you will be entering that number in the next step.
– Now I will type “select disk 3”, since my USB drive is Disk 3. Adjust your number in place of mine and hit Enter.
– Since we just selected our correct disk, type “clean” and it will wipe the drive clean of any information it previously had. Make sure you have selected the correct disk in this step because if not you will be wiping a disk that you may have important data on or it could even be the OS drive. Just double check that you are sure that you have entered the correct number.
– After the cleaning we will make a bootable partition on our USB drive. Type “create partition primary” and within a couple of seconds a new bootable partition should have been created.
– With this next step seeming a bit redundant, we want to key up the partition we just created by typing “select partition 1”
– Then we can select the keyed partition making it active by typing “active”.
– Next format the newly created partition “format fs=fat32”. It may take it a little bit to do this depending on how large of a flash drive you are formatting. Give it a little time to finish.
– Finally, we can assign our newly formatted drive a letter by typing “assign”. Windows will automatically assign it the next number in progression that is not in use by the system.
You can close DiskPart by typing “exit”. Look below to see all of these steps played out as I made my UBCD USB flash drive. Then we can move onto copying the image from a good UBCD image or disc to the USB stick.
Now that we are back at our default “C:\Users\user>” location, lets change directories and begin the copying of the image. I inserted a UBCD disk I had laying around into my optical drive which is labeled as drive D. So below when we switch directories to D, that is why. Go to My Computer and see what Windows has labeled your Optical drive to know what drive letter to switch to. Also, for our more advanced readers, you can do this with a virtual drive as well. I had MagicDisc mount an ISO of UBCD and it worked just as well as using the physical media.
– We will switch directories to our optical drive which has a copy of the UBCD in it. If you do not currently have a copy of the UBCD, here is how to download and burn a copy. Switch to our D drive by typing “d:”
– Then type the path of the file that will create our bootable disk and designate it to copy from our optical drive to our USB stick: “ubcd\tools\win32\ubcd2usb\ubcd2usb.cmd d: j:”. The last part of that command “d: j:” signifies how it will copy. It is stating it will copy from D: (our optical drive) to J: (our USB stick). Once again, if you are confused at which is your USB stick or your Optical drive, just go to My Computer and it will tell you. Look below and it will show you what you should expect to see after it is completed.
Now we know how to turn our UBCD ISO or CD into a bootable USB drive. Try it out to make sure everything went according to plan but make sure to use it on a PC that has USB booting enabled or set to the highest priority on the Boot Order for it to work. With the USB version of the UBCD you can test HDDs and RAM with ease, reset a lost PW, and test a variety of other issues without the need for a CD or DVD. There are a couple of other programs that will create bootable USB drives for you, but I feel it is always best to familiarize yourself with the command line processes of anything just in case you run into a time when you need it.
Let us know below how you created bootable USB drives and times they have saved your bacon!