Why FlashBoot?

1. A lot of useful scenarios in the single tool

Booting Windows from USB thumbdrive, installing Windows from USB thumbdrive, installing BartPE to USB thumbdrive, support for a large number of other conversions of bootable disks to bootable USB thumb drive.

2. Universality

FlashBoot is compatible with all brands of USB thumbdrives. It is not bound to Transcend, Kingston, SanDisk, HP or to any other particular manufacturer of USB thumbdrives.

FlashBoot is compatible with all types of USB storage devices. It supports USB thumbdrives, USB HDD, SD cards and every possible future type of USB mass storage device.

3. Convenient user interface

FlashBoot is organized as simple and very straightforward wizard, which does now show or ask unnecessary information or options. User does not have to make choice from long list of all possible disk types. Disk type and conversion scenario is detected automatically, although experienced user can override it. If there's a conflict, FlashBoot displays detailed list of processes and windows which hold open files and folders on the USB device.

4. Easier for user: no need to reconfigure the BIOS

Usually BIOSes have an option to boot from USB thumbdrive either as USB-ZIP or USB-HDD. If this option does not match format of the particular USB thumbdrive, then USB thumbdrive is not bootable. FlashBoot does not shift to user the burden of choice between USB-ZIP (superfloppy) and USB-HDD (partitioned) at format time. Every USB thumbdrive is formatted by FlashBoot in such way that it will work in both conditions: both USB-ZIP and USB-HDD regardless of current BIOS setting. This unique feature is called "Multiformat", and this is for sake of best user experience possible.

5. Uniquely wide compatibility with BIOSes of various vendors

FlashBoot stage2 loader has unique compatibility layer which takes care of BIOS compatibility issues at the time of USB thumbdrive formatting. This feature is unmatched by any of the free tools too.

Sometimes disk CHS geometry is different from BIOS to BIOS. E.g., when formatted on the workstation, the USB disk sometimes is not bootable on the embedded hardware because of different CHS geometry on Windows and under embedded BIOS.

FlashBoot 2 allows to specify disk CHS geometry explicitly at format time, and stage2 loader will force it to predefined values at run time.

Some BIOSes cut off MBR track from USB disk when booting (especially for A:-mapped boots). E.g., they map only partition 1 of USB disk via int 13h.

FlashBoot stage2 loader emulates MBR track in such cases, thus hiding firmware diversity and avoiding OS confusion when it switches to native hardware drivers to access USB disk.

Some BIOSes provide int 13h extended API for USB disks, some do not. Some BIOSes do not provide these services in USB-ZIP mode, but provide ones in USB-HDD mode.

To unify runtime environment, FlashBoot 2 stage2 loader always provides LBA and CHS disk access to USB device it boots from.

When BIOS boots from ordinary, non-FlashBoot formatted USB disk, this disk is mapped to A: or C: at BIOS discretion, quite randomly. In the majority of real world cases USB-ZIP formatted disks are mapped to A: and USB-HDD disks are mapped to C:.

But there are some exceptions.

For example, ASUS P5GDC-V BIOS in Auto mode maps 0-512Mb USB disks to A: and 512+ Mb disks to C:.

ASUS P6T BIOS in Auto mode maps 0-1024Mb USB disks to A: and 1024+ Mb disks to C:.

ASUS netbooks show similar behavior, but unfortunately there is no setting in their BIOS setups to override such "Auto mode" when choice between A: / C: is made by BIOS depending on disk size

All this diversity is no more a problem for FlashBoot user. When formatting USB disk, you'll be able to specify target drive letter, e.g. A: or C:, and stage2 loader of FlashBoot will take care of this problem at run time.

6. Better protection of user data

  • Confirmation if you are formatting USB-HDD instead of USB thumbdrive.
  • Second confirmation if your are overwriting USB device with two or more partitions.
  • There's a real world phenomenon called worn-out flash memory, consisting of flash memory cells which don't produce any errors during write operation, but silently flip some subset of data bits. FlashBoot verifies all data it writes to USB thumbdrives, including filesystem metadata, and retries up to three times all silently failed writes before complaining to the user.

7. Command line interface

FlashBoot supports command-line interface as alternative to GUI for power users who need automation or unattended operation.

8. FlashBoot is an old good shareware

FlashBoot has free updates for lifetime (our first users from 2005 still update for free), and it does not interact with the internet in any way — it's up to you to decide if update is necessary.

No toolbars, no ads, no spamming through e-mail database and no other crap in the installer and software. FlashBoot stands against the always-online, spy-on-everything, everything-is-a-service, subscribe-not-buy, force-updates-you-don't-want madness of recent years. Remember: even if you are using the freeware, vendor has to pay for webhosting somehow. So if you don't pay for software, then you're the product.

Why USB thumbdrives?

Why do you might want to use bootable USB thumdrives?

Unlike the most bootable medias, bootable USB thumbdrives are very handy: compared to floppies, they have much bigger size, speed and reliability, compared to CD/DVD discs, they are random write access devices, so you can backup your data to the same media where you booted from, without need to reformat (reburn) the entire media. Again, the cost per gigabyte for them continues to cut down, unlike CD/DVD discs.

Bootable USB thumbdrives are especially useful with netbooks like ASUS Eee PC which does not have builtin CD/DVD drive or an opportunity to install one. On the other hand, buying external CD/DVD drive for netbook is not a truly wise choice because it will be shifted out of use just after Windows is installed, thanks to widespread use of DVD image files and modern hard disk capacities.

Bootable USB thumbdrives are useful as boot devices on the "big" desktop PCs too, unlike CD/DVD discs they do not have sensible surface you could scratch, thus more reliable (especially when holding your backup data). If your sysadmin at work restricts PC to not to have CD/DVD drives, you still can boot from USB flash disk. Or if your home PC has CD/DVD drive failed, you can do it too.

There are some mobility considerations as well. If your laptop has a bootable CD/DVD drive, you can't work with it for a long time: boot device is accessed quite often, and battery power is obviously not enough to supply laser for a long time.

With bootable USB Flash disk, you don't have to obey a CD/DVD size limit of 700 or 4700 MB. You can buy a big or a small USB disk depending on your needs. Just after boot, on every PC, you may save your files to the same boot device, or restore them back. There's no need to reformat (reburn) the boot disk, you just copy files and folders, and there's no need for extra hardware for such operations. Of course you may do some things you can't do under your OS: copy/modify system files (they are busy when OS is running), reinstall OS, repartition your main hard disk etc.

Awards

FlashBoot awards: http://www.prime-expert.com/flashboot/awards.php

FindMySoft editors have created video review showcasing FlashBoot menus and features.

About technology

FlashBoot is protected against reverse engineering by VMProtect.

FlashBoot is using wxWidgets library for GUI.

FlashBoot setup is powered by InnoSetup.