We have shown you how to create a bootable media of Windows 8, Windows 7, Mac and even how to boot multiple operating systems from a single USB disk. All these how-to articles use different tools to carry out the process. Apart from those, there are many more tools available for free that can create a bootable media. Today we will compare some of the more popular ones.
These tools are compared based on the features they offer, the simplicity of the process, and the time it takes to create a bootable USB. So let’s start.
This is the official tool from Microsoft and probably the most popular. It has a simple interface that would make sense even to a novice. But for me, it’s too simple. There are no other features apart from selecting the ISO and the media.
Rufus is a newer application which claims that it speeds up this mundane task. It has a few more options than Microsoft’s tool such as selecting partition scheme, cluster size, and checking your USB drive for errors. The interface is straightforward with all the options laid out in a single window. You can judge its speed claims from the comparison chart we’ll show at the end.
This tool is suitable for advanced users who like to have more control. You can choose the filesystem, bootloader and even make partitions on a USB drive. By selecting Drive -> File under Image Tools, you can also make an ISO from bootable media. This tool is suitable for both Windows and Linux. For the general folk I would recommend one of the other tools, as some wrong setting on this will leave you fumbling and wondering why the media is not booting.
UNetbootin is specifically for Linux users, to create bootable Linux media. The tool has a nice feature which allows you to download your favorite Linux Distro so you don’t have to hunt for download links, which can be difficult for a newbie, considering the complex world of Linux. After selecting or downloading the ISO and the media, it’s a simple process of clicking Next, and your media is ready.
5. Universal USB Installer
This is the second tool to make bootable Linux media. It has a simple two-step process, and as with the others, you can select your Linux distribution, select USB drive, and create. Like Unetbootin, it also has an option to download Linux Distro in case you don’t have one. This writing speed is decent and it detects an attached USB automatically like other tools.
For testing these tools I am using a normal run-of-the-mill 4 GB USB 2.0 drive. For tools related to Windows, I will be using a Windows 8 ISO and for Linux, an ISO of Ubuntu 14.04.2.
I noticed during the tests that the majority of time was taken in copying the files to the drive, so a USB 3.0 drive will speed up the process.
We have some surprising results here. Rufus, which claims that it is twice as fast as others is actually the slowest. To verify, I ran the test again and it was quicker the second time, but in line with the Windows USB/DVD tool. One thing to note is that the tests showed on Rufus’s website are done using Windows 7. The Linux timings are less because Linux ISO is just 1 GB in size, compared to 3+ GB of Windows.
You might be thinking that the timing doesn’t matter as creating an ISO is not a thing someone does on daily basis. But we are geeks, we like to test out everything, in line with our aim to make your life easier.
Okay, enough geek talk, if you do have any thoughts please share through comments.