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Make USB Flash Drive Bootable in Anything

USB flash drive, bootable, in anything

Doing some research for why some HP computers do not boot from a USB flash drive, I came across Ventoy.

Ventoy is a software tool to create a USB flash drive bootable in anything and supports the most common image files.

We tried Ventoy to make a USB flash drive bootable, and it works like a champ. In fact, the software is so easy to use, it is worth commenting about a previous post we did. A while back we talked about how to check if your USB flash drive is bootable, and to be honest, rather than putting in the time and work to read the article and do the steps, your time is better used flashing your drive with Ventoy. The result is a bootable USB flash drive for any device.

Ventoy is an open source tool for creating bootable flash drives when using image files like ISO, IMG, WIM, VHD and EFI files. The project team tested over 900 image files which tested successfully on over 90% of the distro packages.

What we like about this solution is no need to flash the drive with boot code using the source CD-ROM like so many tutorials out there (for Windows at least) because the Ventoy tool creates a second partition which all the boot code and the Ventoy utility flashes that partition with the boot code needed. You can see from the Disk Management screen shot below there are now two partitions on the tested flash drive.

usb flash drive, bootable, disk management, ventoy

You can tell there have been plenty of Ventoy updates and what is (also) very nice about their software tool is the display of Ventoy version on your device. Nice feature to cross reference if your device is current or needs an update. The update process is just as quick as the original creation of the bootable device.

usb bootable in anything, ventoy software screen

Considering the above, it goes without saying it is easier than ever to make a USB flash drive bootable in anything without having to re-do the work. This software eliminates the need to re-create a bootable image to USB and flash it over and over. Simply update the image file content, not the boot strap code.

The only thing even slightly annoying, which is easy enough to correct is the Volume name for the primary partition defaults to “Ventoy” Would be nice if an edit feature was in the software to customize this without the additional step of renaming the volume after-the-fact.

USB volume name, ventoy, for bootable flash drive

Here are a list of feature copied from the website. The project is open source and we suggest making a donation if you do in-fact use the code. It’s only fair, right!

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How To: Hide Files on a USB Flash Drive

close up picture of flash drive

There are two methods to hide a file on a flash drive. Both methods are free and one is better than the other.

The first method is very straight forward and easy for anyone to use and probably common to most computer users. That said, this first method is also easy to detect the file on the USB.

The second method is more obfuscated and harder to detect. Using the second method it is harder to find the hidden file unless you are specifically looking for it.

Both methods work well for hiding a file on a flash drive and free to use with a Windows computer; however, anyone with a bit of IT knowledge and experience can find the files – so this isn’t a bullet proof method for hiding a file from absolutely everyone.

If you are looking for a truly secure method to hid a file on a USB flash drive then a paid-for-product will be your better solution, you might want to check out some Secure Flash Drives by this company.

But in the meantime, if you need a quick solution, or you don’t want to spend money on a product, today’s article will work fine.

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How To: Create a Website Shortcut on a USB Drive

This article will show you how to create a website shortcut that works from a flash drive. The article includes the instructions, a video on the instructions and a template file one can download and tweak for their own use.

The reason for this topic of creating a website shortcut on a flash drive is because dragging and dropping your desktop shortcut to a flash drive doesn’t work.

The shortcut on a desktop is a relative path of the computer to the website. Which means the shortcut doesn’t transfer well to a flash drive for others to use. Rather than a working shortcut, the shortcut either errors off or takes you to a generic page within the browser.

Creating a shortcut that works on a USB flash drive is very easy. Like, crazy easy.

  • Open Notepad (type notepad in search and click Enter)
  • Type: [InternetShortcut]
  • Type website landing page: URL=https://www.getusb.info
  • Now Save As the file to your USB flash drive with .URL extension.

You have now successfully made a website shortcut on your USB flash drive.

This link can be used on any flash drive or hard drive or desktop location. The shortcut is truly a universal file that will work from any location.

Here is the text file which you can use as a template if the above instructions are too complicated or you simply don’t want to perform the steps.

Here is the video: How To: Create a Website Shortcut on a USB Drive

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Fix: Computer Will Not Boot With USB Device Plugged In

There is nothing worse than a blank screen after pushing the power button on your computer. The heart stops, the shoulders sink and this feeling of utter despair and anxiety quickly overtake the body.

Why? Why is this happening right now! I have emails to check, orders to process, papers to submit.

It is inevitable a computer problem starts whenever you most need the computer.

A quick examination of the computer shows a flash drive sticking out of a USB port. Could this be the problem? Let me pull the USB out and restart my computer.

A few moments later you discover removing the flash drive did the trick, the computer boots up and starts, as expected. So what happened? Why will my computer not boot with a USB device plugged in?

In this scenario the explanation is very simple. When the USB is connected the operating system thinks it should boot from the flash drive, not the computer hard drive.

At one time in this USB’s life, the drive was made to be bootable and book-strap code was flashed to the device. Because the computer BIOS sees the drive and the boot code, the BIOS will instruct the computer hardware to reference the USB stick for the operating system.

This doesn’t mean any flash drive connected will force your computer to boot from a USB stick, only if the USB stick was made bootable at some point. Most flash drives are not bootable by default and have the boot-strap code to overtake the machine.

The other important point to consider,

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How To: Get Serial Number of USB Flash Drive

Using the CMD prompt in Windows 10 or 11, it is a one line request to get the serial number of a USB flash drive. The serial number in question is the device serial number which follows the device and will be the same serial number to identify the physical device. This serial number is written into read-only memory on the flash drive and cannot be duplicated or deleted or modified. This is different than the volume serial number which we talk about from a previous post.

Steps are very simple:

# Insert a flash drive (or multiple)

# Select a flash drive by clicking on the drive letter

# In the Explorer path field type cmd

usb flash drive, cmd prompt

This will open the Command Prompt

# Copy the text below and click Enter

wmic path Win32_USBControllerDevice get Dependent | find “USBSTOR”

This request is asking Windows to search the computer for any Mass Storage devices (flash drives) connected to the computer USB Host Controller on the motherboard.

How To Get Serial Number of USB Flash Drive

Serial Number of USB Flash Drive, multiple drives

You do need to parse some information out because more than a serial number is given.

The serial number of the USB flash drive is listed last and there is a &0 at the end which is not part of the serial number. The hardware serial number can range in length so we don’t have a guideline for how long it should be. Typically we see serial number lengths range from 8 to 30 alpha-numeric values.

Using a 3rd party program, you can see the serial number of the USB flash drive matches that of the cmd prompt request.

software to get serial number of USB drive

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Greyed Out USB Flash Drive (help)

If you have a greyed out USB flash drive this article should be able to help you resolve the issue.

The most common reason is the USB flash drive has a different file system and you simply need to format the drive. For example, Ext3, Ext4 or HFS are file systems for Linux and Mac. By formatting the USB drive it could restore the drive and it’s no longer greyed out.

please insert disk into USB drive

If this didn’t do the trick, then try the next suggestion ↓

It is possible the greyed out USB flash drive has a bad device driver. We can uninstall the drive and try re-installing the USB stick (reconnecting).

Do the following:

In the Search area type “Device Manager” and good chance Windows will auto-suggest before you are even done typing. Select Device Manager.

device manager, windows to find greyed out USB flash drive

Alternatively you can click the Windows key along with “X” and from the list select Device Manager

Win Key + X, windows to find greyed out USB flash drive

Device Manager lists things alphabetically so scroll towards the button and expand the carrot > for Universal Serial Bus controllers.

In the sub-listing you will see the Mass Storage Device and then right click that device and select Uninstall device

uninstall USB driver, greyed out USB stick

Now the device drive has been removed, please reconnect the device and see if the greyed out USB flash drive is still greyed out.

If this didn’t do the trick we have one last suggestion for you before declaring the USB stick most likely dead ↓

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Eject USB Flash Drive From Windows Command Prompt Any Version

Eject USB Flash Drive safely, Free Download

Microsoft does not provide ways to eject USB flash drives with a single click, or automatically. Universal Serial Bus (USB) is the #1 method for expanding storage in Windows, yet Microsoft makes ejecting a storage device such a manual process! Frustrating to many, like you, because you are here. {wink}

Today we cover how to eject a USB flash drive in Windows using the command prompt. In addition, this article also provides a software way to eject a USB flash drive with the single click of a button. Yes, that is right, a single click!

Let us start by covering how to eject a USB drive using the command prompt.

Like mentioned above, Microsoft does not make this easy. The user must get into DiskPart, List the volumes (drives) connected, select the specific volume (drive) then eject by typing “release.”

The above commands may be performed via the command prompt, but honestly it’s a pain in the a$$ because all the typing involved and manually selecting the device. This process needs to be automated. {hint}

If you are reading this article you want to make things quick to remove USB, easy and simple.

Nexcopy solved this problem with a free utility that doesn’t require installation, doesn’t require Admin rights, and doesn’t require you to select the drive. The tool is ultra-quick and ultra-easy. In addition, anyone can bundle the free exe file into their own software to automate the process.

The free software tool is called USB Eject Button

Here is the free download link to eject USB flash drives from Windows command prompt

Below is the command prompt using a single word to eject a USB flash drive. The command is “release”

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Solved: Can’t Mount IMG File in Windows 10

The first thing to understand is that image files are a messy business. There is plenty of cross-over information and functionality between image file extension types – it is easy to get confused!

Don’t be surprised if you can’t mount an .img file in Windows 10 with their default utility – it’s a common problem and this article will help.

Windows image mount utility

Windows, disc image file is corrupt

It is important to understand not all image files are the same. Heck, not all .img files are the same. Some basics: For the term “image files” you typically see .img files and .iso file extensions and they have similar functionality and conceptually accomplish the same goal. The goal is for an image file to hold digital content, in a single file, of a file system and a its set of data. If that sentence is confusing, then maybe think of an image file this way: a zip file (but without compression).

A very quick summary explaining the difference of .img and .iso image files. An optical disc holding data is configured differently than hard drive storage space. The optical disc has data written in a linear configuration and is a digital binary copy of the ISO 9660 standard or derivative UDF standard. The ISO file extension is a single file which contains all the digital information just described.

An .img file is a digital copy of the contents of a hard drive or flash drive. Technically you can have an .img of a CD or DVD as well, but most should associate the image of a disc as ISO. An .img file is a disk image which begins with a FAT sector which is used to identify the file system and files contained inside the image file. The image file of a disc (ISO) begins with a descriptor file which describes the layout of the disc.

That last sentence is important:

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How To: Check for Bad Sectors on USB Flash Drive

This how to tutorial describes a simple way to check for bad sectors on a USB flash drive. The instructions below will also fix any bad sectors, if possible, during the scanning process.

A bad sector on a flash drive is a portion of memory on the flash drive which cannot be accessed, written to, or read from and therefore cannot be used. A bad sector on a flash drive sounds easy enough to diagnose, but it’s important to know there are two types of bad sectors: hard and soft.

Physical damage to a USB flash drive will create a hard bad sector. A hard bad sector cannot be repaired or fixed and is typically induced from physical abuse. A good example: leaving a flash drive in your pocket and it went through the wash, or the device was dropped and hit the ground is such a way, physical damage happened to the memory.

A soft bad sector on a flash drive are memory logic problems. A soft bad sector can occur from a software or data error during the write process. In lower quality flash drives, it is possible the incorrect firmware was written into the USB controller ROM and thus creates instability via soft bad sectors.

Bad sectors cannot be repaired; however soft bad sectors can be repaired.

The soft bad sectors can be fixed by using the CHKDSK utility in the Windows operating system. This same utility will also flag any hard bad sectors not to be used again, and of course not repaired.

Some signs of a bad sector on a flash drive include:

  • Cannot read a file on the flash drive
  • A file location is no longer available
  • Unable to format the USB flash drive
  • A disk read error occurs during operation

In our opinion, run the check disk one time to see if your issue is resolved, but if subsequent scans are required, we recommend discarding the flash drive to avoid further issues.

Running the chkdsk scan is really easy:

Insert flash drive to computer

Using Windows Explorer navigate to the drive letter

In the Explorer window type cmd and press enter

access usb flash drive cmd command

Once inside the command line utility type chkdsk d: /f /r /x and click Enter. NOTE: *The letter d represents the drive letter of the flash drive.

chkdsk commands for usb flash drive

  • The /f parameter tells CHKDSK to fix any errors it finds.
  • The /r parameter tells Windows to repair/restore bad sectors (if possible).
  • The /x parameter unmounts any “handles” to the drive or said another way, this step will not allow any other resource to access the flash drive during the scan.
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How To: Get USB Volume Serial Number and USB Device Serial Number

Using the command prompt (cmd) you can quickly and easily get the USB volume serial number and the USB device serial number. There is no computer experienced needed to perform these functions, simply type a couple letters and you will get the information!

To get the USB Volume Serial Number do the following:

Insert USB flash drive into the computer

Double click the drive letter associated with the USB flash drive (remember the drive letter as you will need this in a moment)

usb drive letter in windows explorer

In File Explorer type: cmd

cmd prompt in usb drive letter

From the command prompt type: vol d: and click Enter ( where “d” is the drive letter of the USB flash drive)

The command prompt window will return the results and look something like this:

The Volume in drive D is named “Nexcopy”

The Volume serial number is 3AAB-AA16

vol command for usb drive letter

After we explain how to get the USB device serial number we will explain the difference between the two.

To get the USB Device Serial Number do the following:

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5 (legit) Reasons a USB Flash Drive Disconnects and Reconnects in Windows

Roll Play Scenario:

  • Windows: Sound of connected a USB flash drive to Windows…
  • User: Ah yes… let’s get to work!
  • Windows: The Windows sound of a disconnected USB device…
  • User: Oh no, what’s happening?

A quick Google search and here we are… let’s take a look:

Here are five legitimate reasons your USB drive might be disconnecting from your Windows computer.

1. Running on Battery

Windows OS is set at default to power down USB ports when running from a battery. The power down process usually doesn’t happen until 10-15 into a stalled USB port, but maybe your setting is different. So worth checking… but first… plug in your laptop and see if the problem is resolved.

To check your USB power setting do this:

Search for Control Panel and click Enter

control panel

In the Control Panel click the Hardware and Sound link

hardware and sound

From here (might be slightly different for everyone) click the Change battery settings and further click Change plan settings and then you’ll see an Change advanced power settings option. Click the Change advanced power settings you can scroll around to find the USB devices and adjust your power there.

USB power setting

2. Faulty USB Port

The number one reason for why a USB device doesn’t work is the physical USB port on the host computer. A laptop generally has only 3 or 4 ports and those ports get a lot of action. With a tower PC, the front USB ports on the bezel also get most the action. Question: When you insert the USB device can you wiggle it around? Was there very little tension or pressure when connecting the USB device? If the device wiggles, or extremely easy to insert… you might have a physically bad USB socket.

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