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Installing from a USB flash drive has become fashionable. I haven’t used a disc for any installation for a long time now. I didn’t even buy an optical drive for the last PC I built, now three years previous. That’s not to say discs are dead Don't Sell Your CDs & DVDs! 5 Downsides to Going Digital Don't Sell Your CDs & DVDs! 5 Downsides to Going Digital You name it, there's probably a digital market for it. And while digital is awesome in many ways, it definitely isn't perfect. Here are five reasons why. Read More , but USBs are versatile, easily transported, and easily shared, as well as now coming with massive storage.

Installing a new operating system from USB How to Create Windows 10 Installation Media How to Create Windows 10 Installation Media Regardless of how you arrived at Windows 10, there's a way to create your own installation media. Sooner or later you might need it. Let us show you how to be prepared. Read More is a quick, usually painless operation. However, why limit your USB to a single operating system? There are now several excellent multiboot USB tools you can use to turn your humble USB into a pocket-sized operating system repository. The only thing that’ll hold you back is the size of the stick.

I’ve got five tools for you to run your eyes over, so let’s press on.

Note: Some of these tools require Microsoft .NET Framework, which you can download here.

1. YUMI

Supports: Linux (Pre-loaded), Windows (Add manually).

YUMI is an extremely well known multiboot USB tool. You can use YUMI to install a wide-range of Linux, antivirus software, system tools, boot CDs, and Windows installation packages to a single USB. Once you load YUMI, the tool will ask you to Select a distribution to put onto [your drive letter]. Scroll through the drop down menu until you find the distribution you’re looking for.

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YUMI has integrated download functions for a number of Linux distros. When you select a distro with this function, a download box will appear alongside the distribution selection drop-down menu. Downloads for Linux distros and rescue kits (such as Trinity Rescue Kit) can automatically launch. However, Windows ISOs must be manually downloaded and selected.

2. SARDU

Supports: Linux (Free), Windows (Pro only).

SARDU is another well known, well used multiboot USB tool. It comes with a flashier interface, but also applies restrictions to exactly what you can add to your USB. This is due to SARDU offering a free version for personal use, and a Pro version. The Pro version grants you access to Windows installers, while everything Linux is available in the free version.

The SARDU interface is more accessible than YUMI’s single drop-down menu. You’ll find individual tabs for anti-virus, utility, Linux, and Windows, as well as a Pro-only “Extra” tab. Selecting your operating systems is extremely easy. When you check a box, the option to download appears.

Note that SARDU will also write to a CD, unlike its direct competitors.

3. XBOOT

Supports: Linux, various recovery and antivirus tools, QEMU.

XBOOT is a slightly older multiboot tool. As such, it doesn’t come with the range of identified ISOs found in YUMI or SARDU. However, it does feature QEMU, an open source operating system emulator. You can use QEMU to emulate an operating system on your USB. When you create your USB, XBOOT will offer to test the finished result using QEMU. For this reason, XBOOT is still a handy tool.

XBOOT has a handy feature in the Edit Multiboot USB tab. This tab allows you to edit the menu list of a grub4dos or Syslinux configuration file, meaning you can arrange the menu to your liking. You can also reinstall bootloaders if you are having trouble with your multiboot USB.

4. WinSetupFromUSB

Supports: Windows, Linux, Antivirus, recovery disks.

WinSetupFromUSB is a multiboot USB tool that focuses on Windows installers. You can add multiple sets of Windows installation files including XP, 2000, 2003, Server 2008, and Server 2012. As well as Windows installers, you can add Linux distros, antivirus packages, and recovery disks. So long as the ISO image is grub4dos compatible, you should be able to add it to your multiboot USB.

Unfortunately, WinSetupFromUSB doesn’t feature a download tool. However, it really isn’t difficult to locate ISOs online. Conversely, WinSetupFromUSB features some advanced tools that other tools simply don’t have. For instance, FBinst Tool will reformat your USB to work with any BIOS by creating How To Enter The BIOS On Your Computer How To Enter The BIOS On Your Computer Inside the BIOS you can change basic computer settings, like the boot order. The exact key you need to strike depends on your hardware. We have compiled a list of strategies & keys to enter... Read More a special disk layout. This is particularly useful for old, out-of-date systems.

5. Easy2Boot

Supports: Windows, Linux, Antivirus, and various other tools. All ISOs must be added manually.

We round our list off with relative newcomer, Easy2Boot. Easy2Boot is a side-project for the developers of RMPrepUSB. It doesn’t feature a flashy user interface and it does require some learning — but not much! However, Easy2Boot is an excellent multiboot USB tool once up and running. Instead of having to load additional configuration files and bootloaders for individual ISOs, Easy2Boot allows you to drag and drop right onto the USB.

A Short Easy2Boot Tutorial

Follow this link and download the latest version of Easy2Boot. It can be a little confusing as there a several versions. I’m using the “basic” version: Easy2Boot v1.88. Once downloaded, unzip the folder.

Locate MAKE_E2B_USB_DRIVE (run as admin). Right-click the command script and select Run as Administrator. Now follow the instructions. Make sure you read each question before entering an answer.

Once the E2B configuration file is complete, use your Explorer window to select the USB. Open the _ISO folder. Note the folder names: ANTIVIRUS, LINUX, WINDOWS, and so on. This is where you will copy your ISOs to. When a folder containing an ISO file is added to its respective folder, an option will automatically be added to the E2B configuration file and boot menu.

Please note that Windows files must be in their corresponding folder, or else they’ll simply fail to work. For instance, a Windows 7 ISO must be placed in the Windows 7 folder, and so on. If you’d like more information, browse to and peruse ReadMe_where_to_put_files.txt.

Go Forth and Multiboot

You’ve now read through five multiboot USB options. Each multiboot USB tool has slightly different options, and can offer a slightly different set of tools.

If you just want to create the USB and be done with it, YUMI is your best choice. It is straightforward, fast, and has little in the way of customization 10 Tools to Make a Bootable USB from an ISO File 10 Tools to Make a Bootable USB from an ISO File A bootable USB is the best way to install an operating system. Besides the ISO and a USB drive, you need a tool to set it all up. That's where we come in. Read More . Conversely, if you need customizable options, I would suggest WinSetupFromUSB or Easy2Boot, depending on your requirements.

What is your favorite multiboot USB tool? What tools are on your list? Is there anything you would add to mine? Let us know your thoughts below!

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  1. dan
    March 2, 2017 at 6:48 am

    Doesn't Microsoft impose any license security checks that would prevent booting any PC ? i.e., how do you prove to MS that your USB drive is legitimate and you are not running multiple copies of their OS on different PCs?

    • Gavin Phillips
      March 14, 2017 at 12:48 pm

      Windows ISOs will require a license code either during the installation or after you login, unless you're installing Windows 10. If you've previously installed or upgraded to Windows 10, the license is linked to your system hardware. Furthermore, they've linked licenses to MS accounts.

  2. curts
    February 26, 2017 at 6:39 pm

    It would have been nice if the description for each tool explicitly included the level of UEFI support it has. I have had good success with Easy2Boot, but the framework for E2B requires roughly 0.5GB. Consequently, a 1 GB USB stick using E2B is likely to hold only one ISO given the size of typical utility ISOs, which is something else you might have mentioned.

    Previously I had good luck using XBOOT with WinXP for a non-UEFI, multi-boot utility thumb drive, but if memory serves it didn't work with Win7 and is no longer maintained.

    • SSi
      March 3, 2017 at 5:47 pm

      E2B includes a 500MB \_ISO\CONTIG.ISO file which is used only when an ISO file is not contiguous. This file can simply be deleted to increase the amount of free space available.

    • Gavin Phillips
      March 14, 2017 at 12:49 pm

      Thanks for the feedback, Curts. I will bear in mind for future articles.

  3. Evgeny
    February 22, 2017 at 10:41 pm

    The title talks about a mutiboot flash drive. If I understand correctly, it's a drive from which one can boot different operating systems, presumably, to use them. Then the article starts talking about installing these operating systems. Whether the purpose of the drive is to use an OS or to install it may not be clear to a beginner.

    • MDML
      February 23, 2017 at 8:12 pm

      I agree, I was a bit confused by this as well.

  4. l33t_h4x0r
    February 21, 2017 at 3:26 am

    E2B a relative newcomer?

    • Gavin Phillips
      February 21, 2017 at 11:28 am

      Relatively new when compared to SARDU, but not *that* new.

  5. Michael Diggin
    February 21, 2017 at 1:32 am

    Iv got an lenovo laptop g550 iforgot my password Ihavenot gotta USB stick or disk I'm lost without my laptop can any one helpme

    • Gavin
      February 21, 2017 at 1:58 am

      What version of Windows?

  6. Doc
    February 20, 2017 at 11:30 pm

    I don't have "a spare USB." I do have several USB thumbdrives, USB (external) hard drives, and even an USB SD card reader/hub. "USB" isn't a thing in itself, it describes the connection. Please stop dumbing things down; less technical people will think that "a USB" is a thing. Can I install Windows on a USB keyboard? A USB mouse? Nope.

    • Gavin Phillips
      February 20, 2017 at 11:34 pm

      Actually, I completely agree. That was lazy of me. My apologies.

  7. MarkDubya
    February 20, 2017 at 10:21 pm

    None of these tools support creating USB's on Linux.

    • Gavin Phillips
      February 20, 2017 at 11:23 pm

      This is to create multiboot USB tools using a Windows system. However, SARDU is definitely available for Linux, and I'm pretty sure you can run YUMI, too. Otherwise, try MultiSystem, or maybe LiveUSB Install. However, I've not used the latter. Sorry for the misleading tags!

      • MarkDubya
        February 21, 2017 at 9:04 pm

        Thanks for the reply. Sardu is about the ugliest, most unintuitive program I've ever seen. Also, it doesn't appear it supports choosing your own ISO.

        YUMI runs fine with WINE, however it does not support 32-bit UEFI.

        It appears MultiSystem supports 32-bit UEFI, I'll give that a shot as well as try LiveUSB Install.

        • Gavin Phillips
          March 14, 2017 at 12:45 pm

          Completely agree about Sardu. It is horrific. It reminds me of a website for a pub we were going to visit at the weekend. It was so, so bad, it made me not want to visit the pub.

    • Steve
      February 21, 2017 at 10:15 pm

      E2B USB drives can be made under linux.
      It has the scripts and defrag programs included.