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If your computer runs into a problem or isn’t working properly, and you need to reboot or repair it, booting up from a USB drive can sometimes be the quickest and most convenient option. Creating a multiboot flash drive allows you to have all the necessary files for recovering, troubleshooting, and booting your computer in one place. This quick guide walks you through the ins and outs of multiboot USBs and how you can put multiple operating systems onto your flash drive.

What is a multi-bootable flash drive?

A multi-boot USB is a flash drive that allows you to boot several ISO files from one device. It’s a quick, effective and affordable tool that allows you to reboot or repair your operating system, boost a live system, or install something new using just a single flash drive.

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What is an ISO file?

ISO files, otherwise known as ISO images, are files that contain all the necessary installation files for a particular program. Large software such as Windows or Linux OS is available as ISO files, and this is what you load onto your multi-boot flash drive.

Why is a multi-bootable USB useful

It’s generally good practice to have robust backups alongside a disaster recovery plan in case of an emergency. This includes backups of all important data both in the cloud and on physical hard drives. In addition, you should be equipped with necessary disaster recovery tools, live systems, system backups, and ISO files. However, this also entails a number of different devices containing all the relevant tools, backups and systems.

A multiboot USB is useful because it consolidates everything you might need to reboot or repair your system onto a single flash drive. You can load operating systems as well as anti-virus or backup tools onto one USB. In addition, with the variety of free tools available, it’s an extremely cost-effective and easy way of doing things.

How to create a multiboot USB or flash drive

The first consideration, and the most important factor, is how much storage your USB has. You need to ensure that your flash drive has adequate storage capacity, and where possible, opt for a high-quality device too.

Secondly, to be able to make it bootable, you’ll need to format your flash drive. Take extra care to check that you haven’t left any important or sentimental data on the USB since this will all be wiped when you format it.

Once you’ve prepared your flash drive, you’ll need to choose which software you will use to create your multi-boot USB. Luckily, there are a variety of free Windows programs that streamline the process and make it extremely easy.

How to create a multiboot flash drive using YUMI

YUMI is free to download and facilitates the creation of a bootable USB drive. Its primary focus is Linux, but it can also be used for other programs.

  • Download YUMI
  • Insert the USB you’re going to be using and launch YUMI
  • Under step 1, select your flashdrive
  • Under step 2, select the ISO file you want to store on your flash drive from the list
  • When you’ve done so, click ‘Browse’ and click the specific ISO file that you want (as per Step 2), then click ‘Open’
  • Review all of your choices and click ‘Create’
  • Once complete, you’ll be asked if you want to add more ISO files. Click Yes and repeat the process.

How to create a multiboot flashdrive using SARDU

SARDU runs on both LInux and Windows and helps you create multiboot USBs and DVDs. Note that the Linux version of SARDU is not compatible with Windows ISOs.
Download SARDU. When it’s finished, navigate to your downloads directory and start the program.

  • Agree to the license pop up.
  • Register for a SARDU account and choose whether you want to use SARDU database ISO files or your own.
  • Next, tick the ISOs you want to load onto your flash drive.
  • Once you’ve done this, insert your USB stick into your computer. Select your USB in the drop-down menu in the top right, then click the big USB icon to start creating your bootable flash drive.

How to create a multiboot flashdrive using WinSetupFromUSB

  • Download and install the program.
  • Insert your USB into your computer. It should be automatically detected by the program.
  • Select the ISO files you want to burn onto your flash drive.
  • When you’re happy, click ‘Go’ and WinSetupFromUSB will start creating your multiboot USB.

How to boot using your multiboot flash drive

If you want to boot your system using your multiboot USB, ensure to insert it before you startup your computer. When your computer turns on, navigate immediately to the boot menu. Select your flash drive and initiate the boot process. You’ll need to select which operating system you want to use and then start loading up the system.

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