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Creating A Bootable USB MultiTool

Those of us in IT may find ourselves carrying around ten different USB keys at any given time. This tutorial covers one way to make a USB key with multiple bootable tools embedded. This also covers a way to package your key into an image that can be deployed to multiple USB keys. Note that this method does not currently work for Live Linux distributions. Systems only supporting UEFI boot cannot boot this image, because the Windows BCD does not allow non-Microsoft products on the UEFI-enabled boot menu. These instructions were written for EasyBCD version 2.3.

Step 1: Prepare The Necessary Software

  1. Download and install the free version of EasyBCD
  2. Download any ISO (optical) or IMG (floppy) images that you wish to include

Step 2: Clean a USB Key

  1. Acquire a USB key that can be erased
  2. Open command prompt as administrator
  3. Run diskpart
  4. Type list disk and identify which disk is your USB key
    DISKPART> list disk
          Disk ###  Status         Size     Free     Dyn  Gpt
          --------  -------------  -------  -------  ---  ---
          Disk 0    Online          223 GB      0 B
          Disk 1    Online         7441 MB      0 B
    In this example, the USB key is the smaller drive (disk 1).
  5. Select the disk by typing select disk 1 substituting the disk number with the one for your USB key
  6. Type clean to destroy all data on the disk
  7. Type create partition primary to generate a new partition
  8. Type format fs=fat32 quick to perform a quick format of the entire partition using 32-bit FAT (file allocation table)
    We only use FAT32 for the initial image! Clones of this image should be placed on NTFS.
  9. Type active to make the partition appear bootable

Step 3: Deploy the Windows BCD

  1. Run EasyBCD as Administrator
  2. Select BCD Deployment
  3. Next to "Partition:" choose the USB key
  4. Select "Install BCD" to prepare the drive now

Step 4: Preparing Your Images

  1. Create a folder on the USB key called Images
  2. Copy all of your ISO and IMG images to the Images folder
  3. Choose your USB key in EasyBCD by going to File -> Select BCD Store, and locate the file named BCD inside of the hidden Boot folder. You may need to enter the full path into the address bar of the file browser.
    Example: E:\Boot\BCD
  4. Select Add New Entry and choose ISO or floppy(IMG)
  5. Name this entry descriptively. Example: "Windows Pre-installation Environment 10 x64"
  6. Under Path:, browse for the location of the ISO or IMG file on your USB key, and select Add Entry. A log window will appear, do not close it.
  7. Repeat actions 4 through 6 for all of your image files

Step 5: Finalization

  1. In EasyBCD, choose Edit Boot Menu
  2. Disable Use Metro Bootloader to avoid the tacky Windows 8 boot UI
  3. Select Wait for user selection so the boot menu will not automatically choose for you
  4. Select Save Settings and close EasyBCD
  5. Safely eject the USB drive and test the boot process on another machine

Step 6: Image Capture

  1. Navigate to Control Panel -> Appearance and Personalization -> File Explorer Options
  2. Under the View tab, select "Show hidden files, folders, and drives" and uncheck "Hide protected operating system files"
  3. Select all files on the USB key except "System Volume Information"
  4. Right click on the selected files, choose 7-zip, and "Add to archive..."
  5. Save the archive anywhere except onto the USB key

Step 7: Image Replication

  1. Starting with the drive you created earlier or any other drive, clean and format the drive the same way we did in Step 2, except change fs=fat23 to fs=ntfs, which will select the more robust new-technology file system.
    Note that NTFS cannot be used for the initial image because permissions will cause image capture to fail.
  2. Using the 7-zip file manager, locate the 7z file containing the files you backed up earlier
  3. Right click on the file and select 7-zip -> "Extract files...", and extract to the USB key you just prepared
  4. Safely eject the disk and test booting on another system
Written By: Erik W. Greif
Published: 04/24/2016 16:07PST
Modified: N/A
Article Title: Creating A Bootable USB MultiTool
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Website Title: Bit Fracture Online
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Media Type: Blog Post/Technical Article
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