ISO to USB - Transferring from CD/DVD to USB
One technology solution question we hear is transferring ISO media – data like an operating system, burned onto an optical disc (CD/DVD) – to a USB drive.
There are a few reasons you’d want to do that, the first being that many laptop computers, in a effort to make them smaller and lighter, no longer come with optical (CD/DVD) drives. Also, just like the floppy disc disappeared because of its limited storage, the same is happening with CDs. While they were a huge upgrade from floppy discs, a flash drive with just 1 GB of storage can hold more data than one CD.
The most common reason to transfer data from a CD/ISO to a USB drive is to make the USB bootable – a “live USB.” That means you can re-boot your system from the USB, or even make a copy of your Windows, Mac or Linux (hello there, Ubuntu) OS for using on other computers. While most system upgrades are now offered as downloads from the internet, if you can’t get your computer to boot or your optical drive to spin, you certainly can’t download the OS.
Create a bootable USB when your computer is healthy so you don’t have a meltdown if it happens later.
You may also have photos, music, video and other media saved on ISO/CDs you’d like to continue having access to. As you upgrade your home or office computers, transferring those onto USB before buying a new machine (potentially without an optical drive or to avoid buying an external drive) is probably a good idea.
If you don’t want to bother with any of this … we offer USB data preload. If you want us to upload your OS onto backup thumb drives for your entire office or just your IT team, we can do that. If your wedding/child’s birth/industry convention keynote speaker’s video are on a DVD and you’d like to share those on USB, we can do that transfer too.**
So how do you move ISO to USB?
Here’s the thing. The search terms “iso to usb flash drive,” “iso to usb,” and “iso to usb bootable” brings up a lot of online results. Like, a LOT. Tens of millions to hundreds of millions of results. The Top 10 results are for utilities to help you do it, or online tutorials to walk you through the process.
If you click on the very first result, figuring “hey, it’s the first, it must be the most popular … .” STOP. Full STOP. Just because something is the first search result – whether you are using Google or Bing – doesn’t mean it’s the best.
One of the first links on a Google search brings up www.isotousb.com. After searching for reviews at least one site noted that the program seemed to install malware/adware/unauthorized files on systems. But wait, other reviews said it didn’t!?
We are going to go with NOT RECOMMENDING this program. Just too many chances the reviews – either way – are not honest.
I’m going wade through the other Google results and help you figure out which one you may want to consider using.*
Tools to create Live USB drives
Let’s start with Wikipedia. Yes, I know. But honestly, I trust computer geeks/techies on the internet to police this page to prevent bad programs from inclusion more than I do a native Google search.
Wikipedia’s list of tools to create Live USB systems: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_tools_to_create_Live_USB_systems
With this list, you can click on each and read their separate Wiki pages, follow links to read more about them, and decide for yourself if you or your IT team (or, if you are like me “your guy” who helps you with this stuff) which program is better.
Now back to the Google results:
Rufus is offered as a free download. Unlike the previous entry, we couldn’t find any references to it causing computers to crash or cause malware/adware installation. There were a few comments about viruses, but that seems to be anti-virus software not recognizing the code, not a problem with the program itself.
Directions from Microsoft itself on how to download its OS to a USB when you download it from the online store and how to boot from it later.
PowerISO does more than just create a bootable USB drive. It has all kinds of editing and creation software for ISO files. There is a free trial version. That version will display dialog prompts for you to register and you cannot create or edit files larger than 300 MB with the trial. Registering the program is $29.95 (January 2019).
This tutorial directs readers to either the above Rufus program, or to the Windows 10 tutorial. It also directs users to directions on how to transfer ISO files to a USB drive when you don’t need it to boot the system.
Another free (although the site accepts donations) ISO to USB tool, the site is specific to Ubuntu. “UNetbootin allows you to create bootable Live USB drives for Ubuntu and other Linux distributions without burning a CD,” per the site.*Grain of salt here. Suggestions only. You still need to do your homework and decide what you are comfortable with. ** ask your Logotech account manager about our preload options.