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Flash Drive Booting Fundamentals
By: Barzan "Tony" Antal
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    Table of Contents:
  • Flash Drive Booting Fundamentals
  • Bootable Thumb Drives
  • Creating Your Own
  • Taking a Break

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    Flash Drive Booting Fundamentals

    (Page 1 of 4 )

    In this ever-changing world of technology, we are required to keep up with the pace of advancements. Sometimes this may be tough, other times it requires a bit of research, and adapting becomes child’s play. People carry flash drives everywhere, but when it comes to booting up a system with them, they prefer to do it “old-school” with magnetic floppy disks. This article, the first in a four-part series on flash drives, will hopefully change this.

    Why do users prefer the disks? Since the early days of computers, users from all walks of life got accustomed to the technique that was necessary to boot up their systems from floppy disks. It wasn't hard. It was the norm. The concept remained the same, even if the storage of the disks increased. Then optical media entered the picture. We get to know those too. Installing operating systems and all that was nothing but a walk in the park.

    However, as of the past few years, USB flash drives have taken over the shelves, due to heavy marketing and mind-blowing portability, allowing dozens of gigabytes to be stored reliably and carried around everywhere. Nowadays very few computer systems actually have a floppy disk drive anymore. People skimp on them...because in this day and age, they are somewhat unnecessary. Their time is over. And that's true.

    You surely know that booting a computer with "extra" media-be it a USB flash drive, external hard drive, floppy disk, over LAN, CD or DVD media-is an everyday computing task of which most people should be aware. The reason for that is because almost everybody knew how to do it with floppies and then with CDs. Yet the number and frequency of questions related to booting up from flash drives is quite high on online forums.

    Having said this, you are now reading the first segment of a four-part article series covering almost all of the booting-related aspects of USB Flash drives. In this article we will present the theory behind flash drive booting, some technological background, BIOS requirements, and what to do in order to accomplish the task.

    During the upcoming articles we are going to target other challenging tasks such as flashing you BIOS with USB flash drives, running operating systems on the fly (also known as "live") without requiring installation right from USB flash drives, and ultimately the importance of having a so-called "Rescue USB Flash Drive" for crisis situations that contains the most necessary tools and utilities for troubleshooting.

    Now that the sparks are already flying... let's begin before losing our enthusiasm!

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