Booting to DOS from a USB memory stick

Now that the floppy disk is ancient history and optical media is not far away, it seems we still have to boot to DOS from time-to-time to perform certain tasks, whether it is to flash a BIOS, or perform some hardware diagnostics. The preferred way of doing it these days is via a USB memory stick, and the easiest way to prepare your USB memory stick to boot to DOS is via a freeware tool called Rufus.

With Rufus, a few clicks is all you need to prepare your USB memory stick to boot to DOS. It comes with two DOSes embedded: MS-DOS and FreeDOS. No extra files are needed. After you are done preparing the stick, you can simply copy the extra application files you need over via Windows Explorer, whether it is to flash the BIOS or to diagnose that network card. It is pretty straightforward.

In addition, Rufus also lets you prepare the USB memory stick to boot to supported ISO images, including Parted Magic, Ultimate Boot CD, Windows 7 Setup etc., even Windows XP Setup (but I haven't tested it).

On an unrelated note, how I came across this tool was because I found myself having to help friends repair the Dell System Restore partition, twice, within the past few months. The DSRFix tool was immensely useful for that purpose, but I needed to boot to DOS from a USB memory stick. After scouring through the dozens of arcane/complicated instructions on the Web, this was the final solution I settled on. I am putting this on record because I am pretty sure it will come in handy for me again at another time!


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