How to Boot from a Jump Drive: 10 Steps - MakeSureHow
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Having an operating system on a jump drive enables you to boot any computer that has a USB port and functioning BIOS. Also known as a flash drive, thumb drive or a memory stick, these small flash memory devices that plug into a USB port can contain 64GB or more of data, more than enough space to hold an entire operating system along with several other utilities. Creating your own bootable jump drive is a three step process.[[


  1. 1
    Configure the BIOS: Open your BIOS settings page of the computer you wish to boot from the jump drive by depressing the key or combination of keys your computer uses to perform this function. Generally the "F2", "F8" or "F12" keys are used. Search the Internet for your make and model BIOS opening key of your computer if you do not know the correct key to use.
  2. 2
    Go to the Boot Order Settings page of your BIOS by using the arrow and "Enter" keys to navigate to the Boot Order tab. BIOS pages vary by manufacturer. Look for the USB port selection. If it is not in the first position, change the boot order to make it the first. This is done by highlighting the USB port using the up and down arrow keys and the "Enter" key.
  3. 3
    Save the new boot order if necessary and exit the BIOS.
  4. 4
    Format the Jump Drive: Select an operating system (see links for Mac, Linux and Windows in Resources). For Windows operating systems, download the .iso file version from the Microsoft website (both Windows 7 and 8 are available for download to a jump drive as of this publication). Mac and Linux operating system download versions are also available from selected websites.
  5. 5
    Download the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool (see Resources). Select "Open to Read Files and Folders" if the auto play is turned on. If not turned on, open your Windows Explorer page by clicking the Start button, then the "Computer" heading on the "Start" dialogue box and then locate the operating system program with the .iso file extension.
  6. 6
    Select a jump drive with enough flash memory to contain all the files in the operating system folder. The memory capacity is often imprinted on the drive itself. If not, insert the drive into any computer, in Windows open the Windows Explorer page and read the capacity which is listed under the "Devices with removable storage" heading. In Mac and Linux the USB icon for the jump drive will appear on the Desktop. Run the mouse pointer over the icon to read the capacity. A minimum capacity of 8GB is recommended.
  7. 7
    Copy all the operating system .iso file to the jump drive, making sure that the auto play file is on the top level and readily available to open.
  8. 8
    Load the Operating System: Insert the jump drive into the USB port on the computer you wish to boot from the jump drive.
  9. 9
    Turn on the computer.
  10. 10
    Select the auto play if asked. Generally the computer will open the operating system on the jump drive without further handling on your part.


  • Select a small operating system to boot from the jump drive. Use a jump drive that has at least double the disk space as the operating system. If you add any additional utilities keep them in a separate folder from the operating system.


  • Be very careful when adjusting BIOS settings. One misstep and your computer may not boot at all.

Things You'll Need

  • Operating system .iso file

Article Info

Categories: Operating Systems

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