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  1. #1
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    HOWTO: I have no floppy drive, how do I boot DOS from a USB Memory device!!

    By Paul Driver
    (This used to live in the Chaintech Subforum, but I was updating it, and thought it would be happier here)

    This is my attempt to help people make a USB Memory Device DOS bootable, using freely available utilities.

    I hit the 10000 character post limit (I didn't know it existed) so I had to split this post, the MakeBootFat method is in the 2nd part.
    HOWTO: I have no floppy drive, how do I boot DOS from a USB Memory device!!

    This is my attempt to help people make a USB Memory Device DOS bootable, using freely available utilities.

    First, you need to set your system's BIOS so that you can boot from the device in question. In order for this to happen the USB Memory Device must be in the boot order list before the harddisk if you expect to boot from it.

    On later(newer) BIOSes you may have an option to press the ESC key before booting, and selecting the device to boot from. The USB Memory Device will appear in this list after it has had a boot sector written to it.

    Next, you will need software that will write a boot block to the USB Memory Device. On some machines, this can be done with standard partitioning tools (fdisk or others). I have yet to own a machine that could do this, and I have not personally met anyone who has, but the Internet is full of anecdotal reports of this working.

    I have found two successful methods of writing a Boot Block to a USB Memory Device, they are the HP Disk Storage Format Tool, and the MakeBootFat command line utility. The MakeBootFat command line utility is documented in a second post, following this one.

    Method 1: Using the HP Disk Storage Format Tool

    The simplest method of all is to get a copy of the Compaq/HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool, contained in SP27213.exe . The HP website lists this service pack, but I've never been able to download it from their FTP server. A quick google search will probably locate a source for you, but if you have problems, I last located SP27213.exe from THIS URL ( Alternative URL #1 with DOS System Files, Alt. URL #2 with DOS ).

    After unpacking, installing, and executing this tool, it will write a hard disk style boot block (MBR) to your USB Memory Device, and the USB Memory Device will appear as a harddrive when booted.

    The HP utility does need a source for the PC/MS/DR/Open DOS boot files (dos.sys/msdos.sys io.sys and command.com) there are many sources for these files, you may have a win9x/me boot CD, cab files or other sources available to you.

    If no pc/ms/dr/opendos files are available to you, try BOOTDISK.COM for a Windows 98se boot disk (Try this link if you have trouble with the first) , and the Virtual Floppy Disk Utility to mount image files as a drive, and allow read/write access to the contents.

    The end result of running the HP Utility is that your USB Memory Device will be formatted (so back up your data), it will have a harddrive style MBR written to it. It will also have the three necessary boot files copied to it. This USB Memory Device will now boot as a harddrive, appear as a USB hardrive, and, when booted from, will appear as drive C:.

    If this is unacceptable to you, or not compatible with your BIOS, then you will need to use the Makebootfat utility documented in the second post.

    Step by Step instructions for the HP Disk Storage Format Tool.

    Step 1: Download the necessary utilities/files

    http://www.docjelly.com/Blog/content/binary/SP27213.exe or Alt#1 / Alt#2
    http://chitchat.at.infoseek.co.jp/vm...d21-050404.zip if you need to use a floppydisk image file
    http://www.dehning.com/download/util...sks/boot98.exe or http://www.msu-hb.de/download/boot98se.exe if you do not have access to the MS-DOS system files.

    Step 2: Extract and install the necessary utilities/files

    Install the SP27213.exe file somewhere ( say c:\utility\drivekey\ )
    If you need to use a floppydisk image file to access the DOS system files, extract the vfd21-050404.zip somewhere ( say c:\utility\VFD\ ).
    If you are using the floppydisk image file, extract the boot98.exe file using a WinRar or maybe another zip utility. This archive will give you an error when extracted with winrar, but the image file inside (winb98.ima) will extract. If extracting this fails, use the boot98sc.zip file (It's not a standard win98se boot disk image). Either way, put the resulting winb98.ima or win98se.img file somewhere ( say c:\utility\VFD\ ), this step is needed only if you have no other source for the DOS system files.

    Step 3: Prepare and Format the USB-MD.

    Insert the USB Memory Device into a USB socket (if not already installed), do not use a HUB.

    3a: Run the VFD Control Panel (c:\utility\VFD\vfdwin.exe), if you have a source for the DOS system files other then an image file you can skip this and proceed to Step 3b.

    The VFD Control Panel will start on the device driver tab, press the [install] and [start] buttons. Switch to the drive 0 tab, and press the [drive letter] button, and select something other then A or B as a mount point. On my system, drive K is the next available drive (Neither Drive A nor B works with the HP Utility on my system).

    Now, you will press the [open] button, and point the VFD Control Panel to either the WINB98.IMA or the WIN98SEC.IMG image file and click the new [open] button.

    You now have the MSDOS boot/system files available on a new drive.

    Now that the prep-work is done, you can actually do something to your USB Memory Device.

    3b: Start the HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool (from the start menu).

    Your USB Memory Device should be visible on the top most drop down menu (if not, look for it, if it still does not show up, your USB Device may be incompatible with booting or this utility).
    Select FAT or FAT32 as your file system, Fat32 may be preferable for large memory devices, FAT may be preferred if you are going for maximum compatibility (example: you want to use the device with Printers, Cameras, etc).
    Optionally, you may give your USB-MD a Volume Label.
    Click the ''Quick Format'' check box.
    Click the ''Create DOS Startup Disk'' check box.
    Select the ''Using DOS System Files Located at:'' radio button.
    Point the HP Utility to the source of your DOS system files (the directory, floppy, or virtual floppy drive) using the [...] button below the ''Using DOS System Files Located at:'' radio button.
    Click the [Start] button.

    You should recive a confirmation message that your USB Memory Device was formatted, open it and verify that command.com, (MS)dos.sys and io.sys are present.

    Close the HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool.

    If you followed step 3aGo to the VFD Control Panel and on the drive 0 tab, press the [close] button, next go the the driver tab and press the [stop] and [uninstall] button, and exit the VFD Control Panel.

    You are done partitioning and formatting your USB Memory Device. Transfer what ever additional data you need to the device (Award Flash and a BIOS Image for example), edit the config.sys and autoexec.bat is necessary and reboot your machine.

    Your computer SHOULD now boot from the USB Memory Device.

    Paul Driver
    Warning: never attempt to write a LONG post directly into the forum editor, and NEVER try it with a sticky CTRL Key
    Last edited by PaulDriver; 10-06-2006 at 04:06 PM. Reason: V5.1:Clarified DOS image situation, updated links; V4:Updated links; V3:Spelling, Grammer, Context, Content.
    Never trust a programmer with a screwdriver, if he starts talking about sonic ones, RUN!!
    Run faster and further then you've ever run before!!

    It's too much work to update my specs in a sig, it's a 6 core budget build. If you must know, it's in my profile.

  2. #2
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    Help! I have no floppy drive, how do I make a USB Memory device DOS bootable!! Part 2

    By Paul Driver
    (This used to live in the Chaintech Subforum, but I was updating it, and thought it would be happier here)

    This is the second part of the first post, I hit the 10000 character limit (I didn't know it existed) so I had to split it.

    Method 2: Using the MakeBootFat Utility

    makebootfat is a command line tool, but it does allow a good deal more flexibility then the HP Tool. For example makebootfat will allow you to write a Linux image to a USB Memory Device. Makebootfat will require some of the same tools used with the HP utility, and to make a USB Memory Device dos bootable and emulate a USB Floppy Drive ( a USB Zip/LS120 Drive to be exact) you really only need the command line makebootfat.exe -v -o usb -m mbrfat.bin -b winb98.ima k:\ (where k:\ is the location of the dos source files).


    Step by Step instructions for the MakeBootFat utility.

    Step 1: Download the necessary utilities/files

    http://prdownloads.sourceforge.net/a...m.zip?download
    http://chitchat.at.infoseek.co.jp/vm...d21-050404.zip
    http://www.dehning.com/download/util...sks/boot98.exe or http://www.msu-hb.de/download/boot98se.exe

    Step 2: Extract and install the necessary utilities/files

    Extract the makebootfat-1.4-windows-pentium.zip file somewhere ( say c:\utility\makebootfat\ )
    Extract the vfd21-050404.zip somewhere ( say c:\utility\VFD\ )
    Extract the boot98.exe file using a WinRar or maybe another zip utility. This archive will give you an error when extracted with winrar, but the image file inside (winb98.ima) will extract. If extracting this fails, use the boot98sc.zip file (It's not a standard win98se boot disk image). Either way, put the resulting winb98.ima or win98se.img file somewhere ( say c:\utility\MakeBootFat\ )

    Step 3: Prepare and Format the USB-MD.

    Insert the USB Memory Device into a USB socket (if not already installed), do not use a HUB.

    Run the VFD Control Panel (c:\utility\VFD\vfdwin.exe)

    The VFD Control Panel will start on the device driver tab, press the [install] and [start] buttons. Switch to the drive 0 tab, and press the [drive letter] button, and select something other then A or B as a mount point. On my system, drive K is the next available drive (Neither Drive A nor B works with the HP Utility on my system).

    Now, you will press the [open] button, and point the VFD Control Panel to either the WINB98.IMA or the WIN98SEC.IMG image file and click the new [open] button.

    You now the MSDOS boot/system files available on a new drive.

    Now that the prep-work is done, you can actually do something to your USB Memory Device.

    Open a Command Line Interface (CLI) Window (cmd.exe for NT based machines, or command.com for Win9x/ME)

    Change directory to the place where makebootfat is located (cd \utility\makebootfat)
    Execute the following command makebootfat.exe -v -o usb -m mbrfat.bin -b winb98.ima k:\ where win98.ima contains the full path to the DOS image file, and K:\ is the location where the DOS Image file is mounted.

    After entering the command line and pressing Enter you will get either the help message (which means that makebootfat has updated it's command line switches, or you typed something wrong), or you will get a format completed or format failed message. If the format fails, your USB Memory Device may not be bootable.

    Close the CLI Window (type exit)

    Go to the VFD Control Panel and on the drive 0 tab, press the [close] button, next go the the driver tab and press the [stop] and [uninstall] button, and exit the VFD Control Panel.

    You are done partitioning and formatting your USB Memory Device. Transfer what ever additional data you need to the device (Award Flash and a BIOS Image for example), edit the config.sys and autoexec.bat is necessary and reboot your machine.

    You computer SHOULD boot from the USB Memory device, if it boots as a C:, you may want to try the -Z (make bootfat is case sensitive) switch, this will write a ZIP style partition table to the device, but when this is done, some machines will not boot from the stick any longer.


    I hope this helps someone

    Paul Driver
    Warning: never attempt to write a LONG post directly into the forum editor, and NEVER try it with a sticky CTRL Key
    Last edited by PaulDriver; 10-06-2006 at 04:06 PM. Reason: V5:Clarified DOS image situation, updated links; V4:Updated links; V3:Spelling, Grammer, Context, Content.
    Never trust a programmer with a screwdriver, if he starts talking about sonic ones, RUN!!
    Run faster and further then you've ever run before!!

    It's too much work to update my specs in a sig, it's a 6 core budget build. If you must know, it's in my profile.

  3. #3
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    Re: HOWTO: I have no floppy drive, how do I boot DOS from a USB Memory device!!

    Very comprehensive, well written post. Good work. Nearly makes me want to install a memory card reader just to test it. Nearly.

  4. #4
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    Re: HOWTO: I have no floppy drive, how do I boot DOS from a USB Memory device!!

    -- ping -- checked links.
    Never trust a programmer with a screwdriver, if he starts talking about sonic ones, RUN!!
    Run faster and further then you've ever run before!!

    It's too much work to update my specs in a sig, it's a 6 core budget build. If you must know, it's in my profile.

  5. #5
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    Re: HOWTO: I have no floppy drive, how do I boot DOS from a USB Memory device!!

    Very nice - thanks Paul

    I keep a stack of bootable DOS CDs in the toolkit, but I'll have to try this out too at some point

    ~ Want to try Linux - check out the PC Perspective Linux FAQ ~
    ~ Please take some time to read the Forum Rules ~
    ~ Feed the spamb0tz, don't mail me here: B7Trz4568254@nirvana.admins.ws ~


  6. #6
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    Re: HOWTO: I have no floppy drive, how do I boot DOS from a USB Memory device!!

    My next HowTo is going to be booting and installing WinXP from a Flash Drive.

    Never trust a programmer with a screwdriver, if he starts talking about sonic ones, RUN!!
    Run faster and further then you've ever run before!!

    It's too much work to update my specs in a sig, it's a 6 core budget build. If you must know, it's in my profile.

  7. #7
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    Re: HOWTO: I have no floppy drive, how do I boot DOS from a USB Memory device!!

    Umm, depending on your BIOS, it's real simple to install XP onto a USB storage device, heck I formatted my by accident the other day (wasn't paying attention and deleted the first partition on the drive list)

    Never trust a programmer with a screwdriver, if he starts talking about sonic ones, RUN!!
    Run faster and further then you've ever run before!!

    It's too much work to update my specs in a sig, it's a 6 core budget build. If you must know, it's in my profile.

  8. #8
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    Re: HOWTO: I have no floppy drive, how do I boot DOS from a USB Memory device!!

    anyone have the password for this zip file?
    http://images.thepcspy.com/USB_Boot.zip

    nevermind, found the password - is it ok for me to post the password here?
    Last edited by merkk; 04-30-2009 at 05:51 PM.

  9. #9
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    Re: HOWTO: I have no floppy drive, how do I boot DOS from a USB Memory device!!

    Quote Originally Posted by merkk View Post
    anyone have the password for this zip file?
    http://images.thepcspy.com/USB_Boot.zip

    nevermind, found the password - is it ok for me to post the password here?
    Its not a good idea.

  10. #10
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    Re: HOWTO: I have no floppy drive, how do I boot DOS from a USB Memory device!!

    Hi Paul, what an excellent post, though I'm 5 years late saying so. Already useful, as I added ghost.exe to the usb stick (Method 1) and can restore an unbootable HDD. Where there is no ghost image available, would like to reinstall OS from .iso on stick. However, with method 1, can't see any other drive than C:\ (the stick, as you predicted), using the cd cmd. Is there a DOS cmd, or line in cfg.sys or autoexec.bat which will let me access and transfer files to the hdd? Method 2, incidentally, does every step as you describe, and finally writes the vfd to the stick, but it won't boot - invalid system disk. I'm more than happy with method 1 if I can find a way of accessing the system hdd (Ghost can see all the drives/partitions with no problem). Very grateful for any advice.
    Last edited by johnnixon; 05-18-2011 at 10:51 AM.

  11. #11
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    Re: HOWTO: I have no floppy drive, how do I boot DOS from a USB Memory device!!

    Holy thread resurrection Robin!

    Method 2 has something like a 512MB limit, if I remember correctly, due to the 12bit FAT table from the floppy disk format (or something like that)

    I use a USB memory devices with a UBCD4Windows installation, another with a WinPE-3/Windows-7 Version that I'm noodling with, and an UltimateBootCD (linux) on another, between these, I'm able to recover almost anything.
    Never trust a programmer with a screwdriver, if he starts talking about sonic ones, RUN!!
    Run faster and further then you've ever run before!!

    It's too much work to update my specs in a sig, it's a 6 core budget build. If you must know, it's in my profile.

  12. #12
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    Re: HOWTO: I have no floppy drive, how do I boot DOS from a USB Memory device!!

    Try http://thepcspy.com/read/bootable_usb_flash_drive/ and carefully read the description for the HP boot utility.
    Never trust a programmer with a screwdriver, if he starts talking about sonic ones, RUN!!
    Run faster and further then you've ever run before!!

    It's too much work to update my specs in a sig, it's a 6 core budget build. If you must know, it's in my profile.

  13. #13
    Joined
    Dec 2011
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    Re: HOWTO: I have no floppy drive, how do I boot DOS from a USB Memory device!!

    This is the easiest way I have found to Create a DOS USB

    http://www.pendrivelinux.com/boot-dos-from-usb/

  14. #14
    Joined
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    331

    Re: HOWTO: I have no floppy drive, how do I boot DOS from a USB Memory device!!

    Found this the other day but have not used it yet: WinUSB Maker

  15. #15
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    23

    Re: HOWTO: I have no floppy drive, how do I boot DOS from a USB Memory device!!

    This is what I followed and it worked great http://howtofixstuff.blogspot.com/20...table-usb.html

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