Booting DOS from a USB Drive

We get technical support questions pretty regularly requesting info on how to perform tasks like updating a mainboard BIOS or making filesystem fixes. I thought it might be helpful to offer our general procedure so others can have access to this information as well. Here’s a quick how-to on Booting to MS-DOS 7.0 from a USB Drive.

Tools you will need:

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Download and extract the win98boot.zip. This directory will be used later.
  2. Download SP27608.exe. Run the installer to install HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool.
  3. Insert a blank USB thumbdrive into your systb. *** Warning! All data on this USB drive will be erased! ***
  4. Run the HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool (Start >> Programs >> Hewlett-Packard Company >> HP USB…Tool)
HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool
Click for full size
  • Under “Device” select your USB drive.
  • Under “File System” Select ‘Fat’ or ‘Fat32’
  • Type a name for the “Volume Label” if you’d like
  • Place a check in the “Create a DOS startup disk”
  • Click the box labeled “…” and navigate to the “win98boot” directory you extracted earlier.
  • Click “Start”
  • Follow the prompts
  • Safely remove your USB drive

Your USB drive is now bootable.
Insert your newly formatted drive into any USB-bootable mainboard, reboot, and select the USB drive as the first boot device. You will be brought to a Windows 98 MS-DOS prompt. From here you can update your BIOS, make system disk fixes, etc.

About Chris Hovious
A Vermont native, I've been with the company since March 2007. Originally coming on-board to lead the Production & Assembly team, I've changed gears, 6 years later, to work in Product Management. When not snowboarding or cycling, I enjoy voiding warranties, overclocks, water-cooling, big trucks and things that go fast. I live in Burlington, VT with my wife and two yellow labs.
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15 Responses to Booting DOS from a USB Drive

  1. Scott says:

    Thanks!

  2. Chris Hovious chris says:
    Logic Supply

    A kind reader informed me that my download links were dead. I’ve updated with new links to direct downloads hosted by Extreme Overclocking (extremeoverclocking.com).

  3. TheDudeAbides says:

    so much easier than creating a virtual floppy drive.

  4. RINI says:

    sir ………….Thank q giving this soft ware this only booting Fat- files but i want NTTS- files also booting sir.
    sir plz give me any solution

  5. Chris Hovious chris says:
    Logic Supply

    Hi Rini

    This is only intended for booting DOS using FAT32 formatting. DOS had “fallen off” by the time NTFS was popular. There are utilities out there that will allow for NTFS-file management from a DOS boot environment. I haven’t played with those in quite awhile now, but bootdisk.com is a good resource for this. I would check their site out and see if you can accomplish what you need with their writeups.
    Hope this helps!

    Cheers,
    Chris

  6. Lonnie says:

    I have had success with the utility “rufus” http://rufus.akeo.ie/ .

    The latest version has FreeDOS built-in as an option, so this is a one stop solution.

    Is there any reason not to use the AMI BIOS updater AFUD431.EXE under FreeDOS ? I have not found any issues.

  7. Chris says:

    Awesome, thanks Lonnie!
    I’ll have to give that a try

  8. Chris says:

    After reading a bit about FreeDOS, I don’t see any reason why the typical dos-based BIOS update tools wouldn’t work in FreeDOS. I haven’t had any experience with it, myself, but it sounds promising.

  9. john sc says:

    You are a GOD!!!
    This is exactly what i needed !!!
    I’m trying to do that over a week ago, and this is the right way !! I want to make BIOS update to motherboard.
    I tried with startup disk from WinXp (to another PC without operating system) and it was totally failure….
    The closest solution was Microsoft XP recovery console, but there are so many limitations, the only useful commands there, was dir and mkdir, so it was totally crap. I haven’t tried FreeDOS yet , maybe will work that to.
    Thanks , you really saved me!!!!! WIN98 for EVER!!!!!!!!!!

    NOTE:This only works with USB Stick, it’ won’t work with flopy disk as Win98 startup disk.

  10. Chris says:

    Ha! Glad I could help, John.
    Cheers

  11. jabir says:

    not done,
    error msg..
    there is no media in the specified device.,,

    plz help me

  12. Chris says:

    Hi Jabir,

    It sounds like there’s an issue with your USB drive. I would try a different USB drive or, alternatively, reformat and run a scan on the drive to ensure it’s fully-functional.

    Hope this helps!
    -Chris

  13. Nilesh Akhade says:

    Using FreeDos, I want to perform copy from C:( i.e, Bootable DOS USB) to HDD ‘ s C drive(NTFS). I want to add entry in AUTOEXEC.BAT for that. I am newbie.

    Thanks in advance.

  14. ahag says:

    Thanks ;)

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