Best Booting Software (Mac, Windows & Linux USB ISO Burners)

Thursday, April 14, 2022
Michael Scheiner
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The topic of the best booting software is not exactly a number one issue for many people. However, there comes a time when we could all use a good USB boot tool. Why? This article aims to answer that question, and to give you a rundown of the best USB tools you can use. And the good news? Many of these booting softwares are free.

 

 

Bootable USB software comparison chart (top 10 highest rated tools)

This table gives you a quick summary of the most useful bootable USB tools. You’ll see which each download tool is best for, which OS it runs with, and what you can expect to pay if they are not free softwares. 

Product

Best for

Operating systems

Pricing

Site

Rufus

Best booting software overall

Windows, Linux

Free

Visit

UNetbootin

Great boot disk creator for many operating systems

Mac, Windows, Linux

Free

Visit

RMPrepUSB

Top USB creator for Windows 10

Windows

Free

Visit

Universal USB Installer

Good program to make bootable USB software

Windows, Linux

Free

Visit

Yumi

Best multiboot USB creator

Windows

Free

Visit

WinSetUpFromUSB

Top software to make bootable USB for Linux

Windows, Linux

Free

Visit

Windows USB/DVD Tool

Best premium USB bootable software

Windows

Free

Visit

Etcher

Great USB ISO burner

Mac, Windows, Linux

Check vendor

Visit

DiskMaker X

Best bootable USB tool for Mac

Mac

Check vendor

Visit

UUByte ISO Editor

Good bootable pendrive software

Mac, Windows

$29.95

Visit

 

Why create bootable USB from ISO files?

When it comes to computers, booting (or bootstrapping) basically means starting up your desktop computer or laptop, either from the ‘off’ state, after you reboot it, or even after it freezes or crashes. Normally, your computer boots off its own hardware with a bootloader. But it can also be booted up from software.

Bootable USB software allows you to make a copy of hardware information into a disk image, or ISO, and copy all of that data onto a single USB drive or pendrive, albeit using much less data. This lets you boot your computer off the software on the USB stick instead of its own BIOS (basic input output system). Think of it as your computer waking up with a new plugged-in identity, memory and capabilities.

There are many reasons to make bootable USB from ISO. It’s a great way to update your computer with a new OS without fear of losing your data. It’s a must-have solution if your computer is crashing and needs repairs. Using bootable USBs is also much faster and easier than old-fashioned ways of doing computer upgrades. What’s more, using USB drives instead of CDs and DVDs means less waste because they are reusable. Bootable USB software can also perform things like creating partitions, which lets you separate data into different silos, as well as other advanced options like data recovery or antivirus tools. 

 

What are the different types of booting software?

  • Windows bootable software

  • Linux bootable software

  • macOS bootable software

  • Multiboot USB software

  • Warm booting: after a crash or freeze

  • Cold booting: from the off position

 

What is the best booting software? Here’s our top 10 list:

Finally, we can get on with our top ten best booting software programs. These bootable tools for USB basically cover the main OSs: macOS, Windows and Linux. Some will be more universal in their applications, while others are promoted as more niche bootable programs. Let’s get started.

 

Rufus (Best booting software overall)

Rufus is often close to the top of any list of the best bootable USB drives. It creates bootable ISOs from Windows, Linus, UEFI and more operating systems. This is an open-source bootloader and it’s also totally free. Rufus works on many USB flash drives.

Pros:

The price tag is one benefit of Rufus. What’s more, it’s incredibly fast when it comes to copying ISO images. The user interface is also very user-friendly, mostly utilizing drop-down menus.

Cons:

One of the clear drawbacks of Rufus is that it does not run on macOS. This makes it a non-contender for many Apple fans or if you are looking for a more robust universal multiboot installer.

Pricing:

  • Rufus is free

  • You can make donations on the Rufus website

 

UNetbootin (Great boot disk creator for many operating systems)

If you want to create live USB drives without burning CDs, UNetbootin is a good choice. It works with Windows, Linux and macOS. You can burn drives for Ubuntu and other Linux distributions. It loads these distros by downloading ISO image files or using an ISO you already have.

Pros:

UNetbootin is another open-source project and you can use this bootable USB flash drive system free of charge. It works with a large number of file systems and distros, making it a flexible tool.

Cons:

Some users have been known to experience problems using UNetbootin to make bootable Linux keys, though these issues are likely being resolved. It also lacks more advanced options.

Pricing:

  • UNetbootin is free

 

RMPrepUSB (Top USB creator for Windows 10)

RMPrepUSB is a partition and formatting tool that is built on the Windows 32-bit utility system. It helps you fix read-only protected SD cards as one of its features. For users of Windows 7, RMPrepUSB helps users create multiboot USB drives. 

Pros:

RMPrepUSB supports a very large list of ISO images. Using a FAT32 layout makes this a very speedy USB booting software. It even offers a great QEMU emulator (CPU emulator) tester to make sure you boot from a proper system, as well as an antivirus booter. 

Cons:

The user interface might seem overcrowded and geeky, but users get over that pretty quickly. This is one of those apps that take some techy knowledge.

Pricing:

  • RMPrepUSB is free

 

Universal USB Installer (Good program to make bootable USB software)

Universal USB Installer, or UUI as some call it, comes from Pendrivelinux.com. This is yet another open-source flash drive creation software for Linux. It is also commonly used as an antivirus tool. Many use Universal USB Installer as an installer drive for Microsoft Windows as well.

Pros:

Universal USB Installer supports about a dozen Linux distributions (like Ubuntu). Set up is incredibly quick and painless, you simply download and run the .exe, as long as you are on Windows 7 or higher. 

Cons:

Partition schemes are available but a bit limiting according to some users, though exFAT partitions are good for recovering lost USB flash drive space. Of course, you’ll need to make sure your computer’s BIOS can boot from this installer.

Pricing:

  • Universal USB Installer is free

 

Yumi (Best multiboot USB creator)

Also available from Pendrivelinux.com is Yumi, or your universal multiboot installer. When it comes to wanting to handle a variety of bootable media, Yumi is often a favorite choice because of its multiboot functionality. 

Pros:

Yumi is pretty decent at handling persistent storage. This lets users back up important files between boot sessions. 

Cons:

Yumi might not be as sleekly designed as some users might expect. It is also a bit light when it comes to more advanced options, but you get what you pay for, which is free.

Pricing:

  • Yumi is free

 

WinSetUpFromUSB (Top software to make bootable USB for Linux)

As the name suggests, this bootable Windows tool lets you boot up your PC from a USB. It also lets you run with Linux and other legacy BIOS modes like Syslinux.

Pros:

Testing bootable media in the QEMU emulator works quite handily here. This is among many of the more advanced features you can access with WinSetUpFromUSB. 

Cons:

While this works among many versions of Windows, it is obviously not a product that macOS users will find much use for.

Pricing:

  • WinSetUpFromUSB is free

 

Windows USB/DVD Tool (Best premium USB bootable software)

The Windows USB/DVD Tool is a product that comes straight from the HQ of the Microsoft corporation. It’s a straightforward way to download Windows ISO files. It works with Windows Vista or Windows 7 and higher. 

Pros:

Coming from Microsoft you get the clear advantage of using a big name corporation’s product so you know they’ll stake their rep on it being a great bootable USB drive. It also works best with Microsoft’s New Technology File System, or NTFS.

Cons:

The number of file systems you can use Windows USB/DVD Tool with is not as large as some of the competitors. Still, it’s superior to having to make copies onto a DVD drive.

Pricing:

  • Windows USB/DVD Tool is a free USB booting software

 

Etcher (Great USB ISO burner)

Etcher is one of the newest USB booting software tools on the market. It writes image files from ISO to IMGs. You can also use it to create live USB and flash drives. Etcher has many safeguards in its coding to prevent accidentally wiping your hard disk.

Pros:

One thing that sets Etcher apart from others is that it supports macOS alongside the usual Windows and Linux (where it leverages Ubuntu). There is a pro version of Etcher which means you can upgrade if you need more advanced features. It's also simple to use, based on drop-down menus.

Cons:

Since there is a pro version, you might find the free version lacks some of the tools you’d like. 

Pricing:

  • Etcher is free

  • For Etcher Pro pricing visit their website 

 

DiskMaker X (Best bootable USB tool for Mac)

DiskMaker X was built using AppleScript, which is for creating Mac apps. It works with most macOS versions. It automatically locates your OS X before letting you build a bootable install disk. 

Pros:

If you’d like to install a macOS X on multiple Mac hard drives, this is the ideal bootable software for you. As a download tool for Mac, DiskMaker X is a fan favorite. 

Cons:

DiskMaker X is not compatible with macOS Big Sur. There is a DiskMaker X Pro, however, and hopefully that will be more flexible.

Pricing:

  • DiskMaker X is free firmware

  • Check website for DiskMaker X Pro pricing

 

UUByte ISO Editor (Good bootable pendrive software)

UUByte ISO Editor is a suite of tools and features in the booting software scene. It supports Windows 10 and beyond as well as macOS Big Sur. This lets you burn ISO archives to flash drives, pendrives, CD or DVD. You can also make a bootable disk from Linux Live CD.

Pros:

This is one of the more premium booting softwares on your list and in general. It’s got a lot of features, but for that they offer great online tutorials on how to use them.

Cons:

UUByte ISO Editor is one of the few bootable tools that does not offer a free version, though there is a free trial.

Pricing:

  • UUByte ISO Editor costs $29.95 but check the website for latest prices and deals

 

What is the best bootable USB software tool for me? Our final points

One thing you may have noticed is the lack of bootable options for mobile devices like Android phones. There are indeed other options for bootable USB creators for Android, like DriveDroid or EtchDroid. But when it comes to bootable USB flash drive software for desktops and laptops, we think this list has got you covered. While Rufus wins the day, we want to give an extra special shout-out to Yumi and Etcher for their excellence in USB bootable software. 

So if you’ve been thinking about turning those ISO files into a bootable USB flash drive, now you know which booting software to use. So time to boot up and get down to doing some backups!

 

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