Making a bootable USB – the easy way

Filed Under Misc, News

I recently wanted to upgrade the BIOS on my Adaptec RAID controller. We haven’t really seen the performance out of it that we would like to see and have started to investigate the problem.

Obviously the first thing we wanted to do was make sure the drivers etc. were all up-to date. Going to Adaptec’s website showed that there were BIOS updates available so we went with them.

Unfortunately, the UberSpec does not include a floppy drive. To be honest, I’m not sure if I even have a floppy drive on any of the machines I have here. So that was going to make it rather tricky to follow the instructions of

Once the files are extracted please copy each *.ufi file individually to a separate floppy disk. If this is not done, you may encounter read errors from one of the files when flashing the controller.

I’m not an expert in the field of RAID controller cards but I’m going to hazard a guess that any error is bad when dealing with your primary I/O device’s firmware upgrade. So we set about trying to find a way around this.

We went with a bootable USB drive. Well a USB drive anyway.

There are a gazillion different articles on the internet on how to do make a USB drive bootable. A lot of them want you to use the (admittedly excellent) mkbt and the like. Unfortunately a lot of the suggestions involve creating a USB Boot disk of only 1.44Mb which is no good if you want to add files to be used from the DOS prompt. Other solutions would give you a bootable DOS ISO (for instance) which was great – but no USB support.

So I grabbed this HP USB utility and a boot file package and just clicked on the appropriate settings and it did it all for me. After that I copied all the files to the root (the boot files from the package are not visible on the drive after formatting – not even!) and lo and behold it booted beautifully.

To save someone some time – quite a few tutorials also suggest grabbing the HP Drive Key Boot Utility – I found this to be unnecessary and far too large a download (45Mb!).

Hope this helps someone!