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What Bootable USB Flash Drive Would You Recommend?


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#1 Boris C.

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 02:06 AM

I have learned that not all flash drives are bootable. I also learned that Damn Small Linux cannot work on SanDisk Micro Cruizer flash drive because of its CD-ROM emulation.

Guys, i want to create emergency multi-boot flash drive. I want to buy another one but be sure that it is one that is bootable.

What flash drives' brands would you recommend me to buy that are bootable? And which size - 4GB or 8GB?

Thanks.

#2 Just_A_Novice

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 05:41 AM

If you were to choose a USB with a good controller chip, you should be on your way successfully to help you in selecting a good brand. Two that are well known are Lexar or Netac USB flash drives.

I went ahead and added the application to this post for your convenience of having it along with instructions on how to use it properly if you do decide to grab a Lexar or Netac USB flash drive. This utility has a "Flip Removable Bit" button you can click on and then unplug the USB for remounting purposes of course.

If it works your USB will be classified as a "Fixed Disk" instead of a "Removable media" which Windows labels as default for their USB's. This utility works with certain types of USB controller chips on certain USB's. Many BIOS es will always boot as drive C: (hard disk) if the device identified as a "Fixed Disk" rather than "Removable Media".

With that being said once it's turned to a "Fixed Disk" you can partition it like you want just like if it was a real Hard Disk! Good Luck!

Just_A_Novice

:hyper: Attached File  lexar_usb_format.zip   355.07KB   1705 downloads


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#3 wimb

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 06:22 AM

I would advice not to use USB-stick,
but to use 2.5 inch Portable USB-HDD of Hitachi 320 GB (PROmedia of ALDI)

Easy to carry, fast booting, reliable large amount of data, partitioned easily, no adapter but powered by USB 2.0

:hyper:

#4 Just_A_Novice

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 06:53 AM

I would advice not to use USB-stick,
but to use 2.5 inch Portable USB-HDD of Hitachi 320 GB (PROmedia of ALDI)

Easy to carry, fast booting, reliable large amount of data, partitioned easily, no adapter but powered by USB 2.0

:hyper:

Not a bad idea, however if you do choose this route I personally would aim for the setup with USB 3.0 everyone's time is valuable so boost those read and write speeds on up with a USB 3.0 add on. Yes of course your motherboard would have to be USB 3.0 Ready. (I hope that didn't sound like a sales pitch!)

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:frusty:

2.0_vs_3.0.jpg



#5 VV2006

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 06:56 AM

Boris
SanDisk U3 Cruzer Micro USB Device is excellent flash drive just because it have CD-ROM emulation.
You can change your U3 ISO to any Boot emergency ISO and moreover you can use other (not CD-ROM) flash drive partition for Boot as well.
CD-ROM partition provides reliable protection against virusesis, malware and unwanted changes.
Result is achieved by way of substitution cruzer-autorun.iso from the path download\apps\lpinstaller\isofiles\cruzer-autorun.iso with HTTP File Server.
I've already used 16 G SanDisk U3 Cruzer Micro Flash Drive that way.

By the way, there is another very interesting product.

Edited by VV2006, 08 December 2010 - 07:09 AM.


#6 steve6375

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 09:54 AM

Can you define your requirements better. You want an emergency multi-boot flash drive, so you don't want fast write speeds? Do you need it to be sturdy and reliable or lightning fast or small?

I have over 50 in my collection now, and these would be my top picks.

Lexar jumpdrives are good, but their speed varies as they seem to change the controller inside at random - I have two identical ones and one is half the speed of the other! Running Boot-it to make it a Hard Disk or Removable Disk may be an advantage if you need it to be bootable on a wide variety of computers. So for maximum bootable compatibility I would go for one of these.

Patriot Xporter XT or Rage are fast and good, but don't fit side-by-side with other USB drives so you sometimes need a USB extension lead. The XT is bulky (but solid!) and has an end cap which can be easily lost. So it wins on speed.

Verbatim micro drives are surprisingly fast and tiny too - but I have found that all the types of USB drive without a proper USB plug (i.e. plastic tongue only and no surround) sometimes do not make contact properly in USB sockets, so I would avoid these unless their small size is a needed requirement (e.g. for a key ring). ALso it does not have an LED which is useful as you can see if a BIOS is actually accessing it or not even if it does not boot. This wins on size and pretty god on speed too.

Kingston Datatravelers can be a middle-of the road good choice and have no end-cap to lose.

Corsair Flash Voyager GT is supposed to be a good, fast drive, but Amazon reviews all complain of them failing after 1-6 weeks. One guy replaced his 3 times and he was an IT guy - apparently the firmware gets corrupted - so I would avoid these although I have no personal experience of them apart from a non-GT version which has been fine.

#7 Boris C.

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 11:40 AM

Pretty good information here guys. Speed and size don't matter, i need it to be sturdy and reliable.

Will Kingston DataTraveler G2 / G3 4GB suffice for having there Windows XP LIVE, Ubuntu, Trinity Emergency (or something), basic MS-DOS maintenance tools?

I want to be sure it boots.

#8 skyide

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 11:44 AM

I would advice not to use USB-stick,
but to use 2.5 inch Portable USB-HDD...


I agree :hyper:

I also agree with the Lexar theory. However I have a Corsair Voyager and was also able to flip the removable bit.

#9 steve6375

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 01:00 PM

. However I have a Corsair Voyager and was also able to flip the removable bit.

Which one? I have a Flash Voyager 4GB and BootIt does not seem to work on it? It is always listed by Windows as a Removable Device.
http://blog.corsair.com/?p=696 says it works on the GT version, but a user reports an issue with not being able to flip it back again. Guess it depends on the model and what controller it has inside.

#10 steve6375

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 01:16 PM

I would advice not to use USB-stick,
but to use 2.5 inch Portable USB-HDD of Hitachi 320 GB (PROmedia of ALDI)
Easy to carry, fast booting, reliable large amount of data, partitioned easily, no adapter but powered by USB 2.0

And carry USB cable with you as well as bulky drive? USB Flash fits on your key ring.
OK - I will drop my Patriot XT from the 2nd floor and you drop your Hitachi and we will see whose works afterwards :hyper:
It depends on the OP's requirements (I do have portable USB HDDs as well as Flash pens).

P.S. If you make DVDs (e.g. Recovery, image restore, etc.) then 4GB is probably too small. I always use a flash drive instead of a DVD and only after I am happy that it all works do I burn a DVD and test it. So I would suggest minimum of 8GB. Again depends on you requirements - it is very handy to have a copy of Windows installation DVD on a flash drive sometimes...

#11 sambul61

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 02:35 PM

Boris C.

I tried several Thumb Drives aiming to pick the one for a service drive. And endup following the same path wimb suggested (try to find more about wimb to understand who gives you the advice): use USB 2.5" drive instead. Windows tends to write to a system HD regularly - but you never notice, unless its a Thumb. Even if you'll use special utilities allowing to speedup the PC and use its RAM instead of writing directly to the Thumb, the info still has to be written to the Thumb at exiting OS, so its slow and (arguably) wears the Thumb memory faster.

There is an easy way to try and see for yourself what drive is the best:

- FORMAT your Thumb in NTFS with Windows Format Tool (it will be formatted as a Removable Superfloppy, most modern BIOSes can boot, if selected as a Boot Drive in BIOS);
- RESTORE a modded (for USB use) Win XP or Win 7 (of the same author) archive image onto the Thumb with Acronis or similar image tool - it takes 5 min. Or install same OS release directly to the Thumb as you would usually install onto a hard drive - it takes several hours;
- STICK the Thumb into your PC - it will load required drivers within 5 min, and then you can work with Win the same way, as if it were installed directly onto the Thumb as being an HD - with USB 2.0 speed;
- SETUP eBoostr to make efficient use of your RAM, and avoid ongoing write ops to the Thumb to boost speed;
- COPY to the Thumb ISO and IMA images of service packages you want to use with the Thumb;
- INSTALL Grub4DOS to the Thumb and edit its Menu.lst to boot the service images you just added;
- INSTALL extra apps of your choice to the Thumb as you normally install them in Win;
- DONE

Play with it for a while - and you may find, you are better off with a USB 2.5" drive rather than any Thumb. They are fast and plentiful on EBay, not expensive too, and you don't need a big one. I'm happy with cheap 60GB used Toshiba 2.5", for which I picked up a USB / eSata small very nice case on EBay, also quite cheap. It works with SATA speed - an ideal external service drive, recognized and easily booted from by any current BIOS! :frusty: On a flip side, a 2.5 drive enclosure is bigger than a Thumb, and some drives may require a standard power adapter. Of course, using all the soft and techniques offered on this site, you'll learn a lot more compare to simply restoring a ready-to-go OS image to a Thumb of your choice. But you need to start somewhere...

P.S. All software must be properly registered of course if required, once trial expired. :hyper:

#12 Boris C.

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 05:59 PM

I don't have Windows setup CDs. I work on laptops. They have recovey partition on which they store Windows setup. There is no way i can make it work with USB flash drive.

#13 sambul61

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 06:48 PM

Just-a-Novice wrote interesting Tutorial that may be useful for you in emergency.

As to Windows setup CD, did you check that link to WinXP release posted above? You still need an OS installed on the Thumb to operate it with easy, but you might not need a Multiboot setup as you know it - Grub4DOS will do the same job from a single installed OS. Plus you can install more soft to Win directly, which makes it a lot more flexible compare to booting only images. It has nothing to do with notebooks you repair, since that OS will boot from the Thumb (not from notebook). One or few of the images on that Thumb may be Win or OEM Recovery CDs, if you need those.

#14 skyide

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 09:22 PM

Which one? I have a Flash Voyager 4GB and BootIt does not seem to work on it?


Ok I only tried it on Corsair Flash Voyager 32GB. The one I have looks exactly like this but mine is 32GB, not 16GB.

http://www.newegg.co...3-042-_-Product

#15 steve6375

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 09:39 PM

That is really strange! Mine is same sort but it does not work with the BootIt Flip removable bit button - it is always a removable drive no matter what. I tested my Lexar firefly jumpdrive and that flipped fine.

#16 skyide

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 11:35 PM

That is really strange! Mine is same sort but it does not work with the BootIt Flip removable bit button - it is always a removable drive no matter what. I tested my Lexar firefly jumpdrive and that flipped fine.


Check this out: http://www.uwe-siebe...btrouble_e.html

Flash drives which has been successfully turned into fixed drives:

Corsair Flash Voyager 8 GB
Corsair Flash Voyager 16 GB
Corsair Flash Voyager GT 4 GB (VID_1B1C&PID_1A90)
Corsair Flash Voyager GT 16 GB
Corsair Flash Survivor 32GB
OCZ Rally2 32 GB
OCZ Rally2 Turbo 8 GB
OCZ ATV 4GB
Buffalo Firestixx 1 GB (RUF2-S)
Buffalo Super High Speed USB Flash Type R 8 GB
Super Talent Pico-C Chrom 8GB
Intenso USB Drive 8 GB Slim Line
Sony Tiny Vault 2GB
LG USB Drive 2 GB (UB2GVMS01)
Ativa 325-300 16GB
PQI Intelligent Drive i820 4 GB (8 GB does not!)
Powerram mini Pro (16GB)
Verbaitim 4 GB Store' n Go
Sony Micro Vault 8 GB

Source: http://www.uwe-siebe...btrouble_e.html

#17 Boris C.

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 11:46 PM

But if i install Windows on flash drive and load it from there, will it make changes to my laptop's Windows configuration?

Also the Windows XP SP3 above which link points to has russian interface. I prefer english.

Edited by Boris C., 08 December 2010 - 11:47 PM.


#18 sambul61

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 12:43 AM

Hey Boris,

You don't have to do anything. You asked a question, and several ppl shared with you their experiences. Of course, they all have different ones, no surprise. Its up to you to decide, what to do. I often do something, nobody suggested - just plain stupid. :lol:

You better get familiar with Grub4DOS, it will clear many things up on how to boot service images. If you install Win on a Flash, it will adapt to your laptop hardware at first use. Its just a medium, from which you launch your apps and boot other weapons - service ISOs - with Grub4DOS. Or you can restore Win OEM install from it via Grub4DOS - did you read the above Tutorial? Nothing to do with changing config of OEM Win copy on your laptop, unless you want to - it is not used at all.

Do you understand how the whole thing works? What do you need the Emergency Drive for? This whole topic is a tough one. Its not limited to selecting the right Thumb, you need to learn more about what you will use the Thumb for. :lol:

#19 Boris C.

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 02:22 AM

I would advice not to use USB-stick,
but to use 2.5 inch Portable USB-HDD of Hitachi 320 GB (PROmedia of ALDI)

Easy to carry, fast booting, reliable large amount of data, partitioned easily, no adapter but powered by USB 2.0

:lol:


All these external drives have many bad reviews on Amazon. I don't think i should rely on them.

#20 skyide

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 02:47 AM

All these external drives have many bad reviews on Amazon. I don't think i should rely on them.


Hmm I haven't looked at the reviews....

You can try a different one with good reviews. I think the point is you are better of going with an extrernal, ultra portable hard drive but it is completely up to you. I bought an UFD and am now considering an ultra portabe external hard drive just for rescue purposes. It depends on what you want to do and whether you want to carry stuff with you...

#21 mateuszek

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 11:05 AM

lexar retrax 16gb, you can create floppy device on it, or cdrom lun, or protected partition or/and switch removable bit but still not 100% compatible with all existing bioses.

you can do that with smi chip utility from flashboot.ru

Notice "OR".
You can not have floppy and cdrom and protected - no - it wont work.

#22 steve6375

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 11:17 AM

The Netac U207 has a side switch.
In FDD position it appears to the BIOS and Windows as a 1.44MB USB floppy disk drive.
On non-FDD position it is an ordinary flash drive (xGB).
This is useful for BIOSes which only boot from USB floppy (so you can flash BIOSes etc.).
You can pre-load both 'sides' and select which one you want with the side switch.
Useful to have in your arsenal and much faster than a real USB floppy disk drive (though you can only have one payload at a time for the floppy side obviously) :lol:

The 1GB one has now been replaced by the 2GB version - expensive but worth it when nothing else (except a USB floppy drive + spinny thing) works! http://www.rm.com/sh...?cref=PD1163677 (just an example - also obtainable from most good flash pen providers)

#23 sambul61

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 03:13 PM

Boris,

Laptops are made and sold in millions, and most carry 2.5" hard drive. So don't look at Amazon reviews - just relax and smile. :cheers:

Here is the interesting combo:

Hitachi Travelstar 5K320 160 GB SATA Hard Drive Used NR - price $1
2.5 USB 2.0 SATA HDD Hard Drive External Case Enclosure New - price $2
AC 100V-240V Converter Adapter DC 5V 1A 3.5x1.35 mm Plug EU New - price $3

Sounds like an unbeatable deal? Of course, prices fluctuate (especially on the above linked deals, as more ppl read this :lol:), so you can possibly find even better deals on EBay. For a gross of 10-to-20 bucks you'll have everything to start a learning process into what exactly "Emergency Multiboot Disk" really is, and what you can possibly do with it. Imaging how many service images you can place on it... And - it will work like a champ for as long as you need it regardless of any reviews - because you won't find any for this one. :lol: Except of course my review here - I give it 10-star product award for super price-to-performance ratio. :cheers:

I'll open you yet another secret (just a bit - offtop): you can buy another small gadget for $20, replace its FW with a small Linux distro, hook above self-made external drive to it via USB 2.0 (it stays cool without extra fans), then keep downloading torrents to it AND enjoy a real pro multi-phone VOIP station with it at your whole house or office 24/7 with your PC sleeping deep all nights long. :huh: See - its multi-facet, as they say in corporate world: high ROI product.

#24 sambul61

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Posted 10 December 2010 - 07:20 PM

Just noticed another Tutorial that may be helpful for those guys and gals who want to build there own external 2.5" emergency disk from components similar to suggested above:

(Install and) Boot Windows 7 from USB hard disk by karyonix

The Tutorial explains, how to install Win7 onto a 2.5" SATA HD, and then place that HD into a small external USB & SATA case, so that it can be used in both USB and SATA modes. Quite an interesting read, gives more knowledge compare to ready-to-go Win7 quick restore or install onto a USB drive.




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