Microsoft’s free Windows 7 USB tool allows you to create a bootable USB stick to install Windows 7 or Windows 8. Rufus can do the same, is more reliable, and has more features.

Michael Pietroforte

Michael Pietroforte is the founder and editor in chief of 4sysops. He has more than 35 years of experience in IT management and system administration.

It is kind of amazing how many have problems creating a bootable installation USB stick with the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool (WUDT). I experienced problems several times, in fact. Obviously, Microsoft’s Open Source tool has problems with many USB sticks.

Rufus

Rufus

Considering that more and more PCs no longer feature DVD drives, this could be a major reason why Windows 8 user satisfaction is not always as high as Microsoft hopes. If you run into problems even before you can create the installation media, then then you are likely somewhat prejudiced against a new operating system that was made for tablet PCs and Ultrabooks for which a setup DVD is relatively useless.

I’d like to take this opportunity to add one more annoyance that might be a bit off topic because I am supposed to review Rufus here. I recently bought Windows 8 in the Philippines. When I tried to install the OS with my USB stick, the setup complained that the license key doesn’t work. It appears that, depending on the country, the license key and the Windows 8 setup have to fit together. Since the Windows 8 package only came with a DVD and I didn’t bring a DVD drive, I had to go back to the shop and ask them to create a USB boot stick for me. They didn’t know how to do that and I ended up doing it myself in the shop.

I suppose the majority of customers would just have returned the Windows 8 DVD and bought an iPa(i)d or Android tablet instead. So you see what a Microsoft fan boy I am. 😉 I believe forcing end users to download an unreliable tool to create install media is an anachronism. People expect that they can just use a product when they paid for it without the need to fiddle around with diskpart. I think Microsoft should no longer sell Windows on DVDs and instead offer USB setup sticks and bare metal cloud installations.

Anyway, I played with the free Rufus alternative to the Windows 7 USB tool, and it appears to be more reliable. Thus far, it mastered every flash drive I tried. In addition, it offers a few features that the IT pro will like.

First of all, it is a portable application and therefore needs no installation. Considering that the tool only has to format a flash drive and copy some files to it, I don’t understand why Microsoft requires the Windows 7 USB tool to be installed.

Rufus allows you to select the partition scheme and the target system type. You can choose between the MBR partition scheme for BIOS or UEFI computers, the MBR partition scheme for UEFI computers, and the GPT partition scheme for UEFI computers. If you have a new computer that supports the BIOS successor UEFI, I recommend choosing the last option if you want to ensure that Windows 8 will make use of the UEFI features.

For the file system, you should select FAT32 and not NTFS in that case. NTFS on a USB stick only makes sense anyway if you intend to configure permissions on files and folders. If you intend to install Windows To Go and use Rufus just to format the flash drive, NTFS is the right choice. Rufus also supports exFAT, which you can use if you think you will hit the file size limit of FAT32.

In most cases, the default cluster size will do. If you want to use every bit of your flash drive, you could change that. However, for creating a Windows 8 boot media, you won’t need it.

The option to check the flash drive for bad blocks is useful. USB sticks are more reliable now than they were a few years ago, but if you bought a super-cheap flash drive, it can’t be wrong to let Rufus check it.

Like with the Windows 7 USB tool, you can choose an ISO image of an OS that you want to copy to the drive. Also useful is the option to create a log file in case something goes wrong.

Rufus

Win the monthly 4sysops member prize for IT pros

Share
2+

Related Posts

6 Comments
  1. Matthew Borcherding 5 years ago

    Actually, there's a very good reason to format your USB sticks as NTFS. For many brands, NTFS-formatted sticks are **MUCH** faster for reads and writes than FAT32 ones.

    Plus you can have files larger than 2gb (e.g., DVD iso files) with NTFS. You can get that too with exFAT, but systems need exFAT support installed. Older OSes might not have this.

    I format all my USB sticks in NTFS unless I have good reason to do otherwise.

    1+

  2. Michael Pietroforte 5 years ago

    Matthew, you are right, NTFS on flash drives can be faster under certain circumstances. However, there are also many downsides. NTFS will shorten the lifespan of your USB stick and you are more likely to run into trouble when you want to use it with another OS (Mac, Android, Linux). And if you don't configure access rights properly you can get even problems on different Windows machines.

    1+

  3. Fanny 4 years ago

    Hi Michael!
    >>it mastered every flash drive I tried>>

    Are you willing to test Rufus 1.4.10 with Eset SysRescue ISO in order to create a fully working bootable USB key drive?
    I can't get a fully working USB bootable drive using Rufus 1.4.10 imaging the ISO (the procedure to create directly a Live USB drive does not work for other reasons; that's why I am trying to create a bootable USB key from the ISO).
    The USB pen boots normally, I got the Eset buttons choice and the Eset SysRescue is been launched but then I get the message in an Ubuntu screen: "(initramfs) unable to find a medium containing a live file system" . I chose the first MBR BIOS choice because this is and old PC.
    You can download the 300 Mb ISO here: http://www.eset.com/int/download/utilities/detail/family/239/#offline,152 for your tests. Thank you!

    1+

  4. chanchan 2 years ago

    Hi Michael,

    I've problem that is i can't use Run As Administrator and i can't install any application. And then when i ask to the service center about the Administrator password but they don't know about that. Now i'm very headache for that. They advice me to do Factory Reset but i am very worry for my data. If possible i want to try another way.Please help me. My computer is Windows 10 Home.

    1+

  5. Robert Cummings 2 years ago

    My problem is that I have lost the password to my Microsoft Account administrator log-on. I can log onto my desktop with a guest login but not my administrative. I've done the Microsoft thing and even spent an hour with their tech support to no avail. Resetting the password on account.live.com does not help because my machine always asks for my last used password "one more time." I upgraded to Windows 10 online and have no DVD. So here I am. guest access only to my computer and an administrator login that is completely useless. - HELP Please.

    1+

  6. John Cunting 2 years ago

    I have just flashed my USB to NTFS File system in rufus (w7) . I will let you know if that is ok.

    1+

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

CONTACT US

Please ask IT administration questions in the forum. Any other messages are welcome.

Sending
© 4sysops 2006 - 2018

Log in with your credentials

or    

Forgot your details?

Create Account