Free open-source bootable USB utility
Pete Batard initially launched Rufus in 2011 as a free open-source DOS bootable USB flash drive utility, replacing the Windows HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool (HUDSFT). Several updates appeared over the years, with 2020 seeing a modern, more stable release than before. The most notable changes were support updates for ISO images, UEFI booting, and Windows To Go.
What is Rufus?
Rufus formats USB flash drives so that you can boot up a machine that’s missing or has a corrupted operating system (OS). It creates installation files from bootable ISOs, specifically of OS such as Linux, UEFI, and Microsoft Windows. You can also use it to flash a BIOS or other DOS firmware.
It used to be common practice to burn ISO images onto CDs via popular tools like InfraRecorder or CDBurnerXP. With the advance of technology, Pete Batard decided to create a USB installer when he grew tired of proprietary software. The HUDSFT was limited in certain features, so he took up the challenge of developing a software clone that he could offer for free.
Many reviews have praised the benefits of using Rufus as a bootable USB flash drive utility. One of the most significant aspects is the constant updates, which help ensure that the software remains up to par with modern requirements.
Here’s a brief list of the different versions offering support for the following systems and functions:
- 1.0.4: FreeDOS
- 1.1.0: ISO images
- 1.2.0: Updated support for MS-DOS and FreeDOS
- 1.3.2: UEFI
- 1.4.0: Language localization
- 2.0: Windows To Go
- 2.18: Compatibility for Windows Vista and XP machines
How do I create a bootable Rufus drive?
There are several requirements before you can create a Rufus USB installer. On top of this list is obtaining an ISO for the operating system you want to use, such as Windows 7 or 10. If you claim one through a download, you’ll need to ensure that it’s safe and free from malware or viruses.
Once you’ve received a working ISO image, you’ll need the latest Rufus version and a USB flash drive. With the prerequisites completed, you can then insert the external drive into the PC and start the software program. Rufus automatically detects whether a USB is present, so you won’t need to search for one.
You just head down to the ‘Boot selection’ drop-down menu and select ‘Disk or ISO image’. To the tab’s right, you should click on ‘Select,’ which opens Windows Explorer. You’ll need to browse for your ISO images and open them so that Rufus knows which image to burn.
You may notice that there’s an option to ‘Download’ when you click on ‘Select.’ The latest version of Rufus gives you files for Windows 8 and 10 in case you can't locate one. It’ll ask you which one you’d like to download, letting you continue with the process once that’s out of the way.
Once you choose ‘Standard Windows installation’, Rufus will determine your machine’s right Partition Scheme. You’ll need to create a volume label and decide whether you want to change the default settings for ‘Cluster size’ and ‘File system.’ Once you click ‘Start’, the software will begin creating the USB installer.
You may receive an error message during the creation process, indicating that the flash drive isn’t large enough. In this situation, it’s best to obtain a USB with more storage space. You’ll also need to format the first drive to clear the files you attempted to install.
Can Windows 10 be run from a USB drive?
With the latest updates, Rufus can run Windows 10 directly from a USB drive. You’ll need to acquire the appropriate license first to avoid any legal action or copyright issues from Microsoft. When you’re ready to change your operating system, you can then insert the flash drive into your machine.
Once your PC starts up, hold down or press the correct button combination to change the boot location. You can indicate that it should use the USB flash drive to boot up, taking you through the Windows 10 setup. The OS will run a bit slower from your flash drive, as there are fewer resources to rely on than a PC installation.
Can Rufus create a multiboot USB?
The developer has indicated on the website that Rufus was designed to create a single operating system USB installer. There’s also a notice that there are no plans to update the software to incorporate multiboot handling. However, with a bit of tweaking, that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to do so.
You’ll need a second, larger flash drive to function as a multiboot USB. You can follow the same steps above for creating the bootable USB via Rufus, followed by copying the ISO files over to your multiboot drive. Once completed, you just reinsert your Rufus USB, choose a different OS, and watch as the software formats the drive in preparation for the new operating system. You’re able to copy the new files over to your multiboot drive in a separate folder.
Which software is best for making a bootable USB?
One of Rufus’s top competitors is UNetbootin. If you judge the two programs by reviews alone, Rufus ranks as the number one USB flash drive utility worldwide, while UNetbootin is ninth on the list. The main reason for this preference is that Rufus automatically detects your flash drive, lowering the risk that you’ll accidentally format your machine’s hard drive.
Easily create a new USB operating system installer
While the Rufus process may seem complicated at first, it becomes easier with practice. You can use the software to create a multiboot device on a different drive that delivers faster speed and holds more space. If you’re unable to start up your PC or the OS is corrupt, using Rufus to create a portable booting system is the way to go.