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Booting DOS from a USB Drive

By ·Categories: I/O HUB·Published On: November 3rd, 2008·1.3 min read·

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:

  • Windows 98 System Files
  • HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool
  • USB thumbdrive (256MB will work fine)

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.

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About the Author: 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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18 Comments

  1. Scott December 5, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    Thanks!

  2. chris May 19, 2009 at 10:13 am

    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. Andy October 19, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    win

  4. TheDudeAbides August 6, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    so much easier than creating a virtual floppy drive.

  5. RINI March 22, 2012 at 4:13 am

    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

  6. chris March 22, 2012 at 10:33 am

    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

  7. Lonnie October 19, 2012 at 10:41 am

    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.

  8. Chris October 19, 2012 at 10:47 am

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

  9. Chris October 19, 2012 at 10:49 am

    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.

  10. john sc November 24, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    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.

  11. Chris November 26, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    Ha! Glad I could help, John.
    Cheers

  12. jabir January 26, 2013 at 4:47 am

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

    plz help me

  13. Chris February 25, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    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

  14. Nilesh Akhade March 29, 2013 at 5:59 am

    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.

  15. ahag July 22, 2013 at 10:40 am

    Thanks ;)

  16. miichael January 28, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    the link to download the usb bios bootable file does not open , is there another link ?

  17. Galane September 25, 2018 at 8:00 pm

    This doesn’t work in Windows 10. The system falsely reports to the utility that the USB drive is “write protected”.

  18. Ron March 24, 2021 at 11:03 am

    Umm where do I get the 2 files mentioned: win98boot.zip & SP27608.exe from?

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