How To: Create a bootable USB Thumb Drive

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Sep 17, 2020
The best way, IMHO: (see way below for alternatives)

First, go to:

Download a copy of ReadSpeed for Windows, ReadSpeed.exe

Place it in a folder, e.g. on the desktop

Next, go to C:\Windows\System32 and get a copy of cmd.exe and place it in the folder with Readspeed.exe

NOTE: ReadSpeed.exe must be run with Administrator privilege. (As does InitDisk – see below)

Right click cmd.exe, click Properties, and click the Compatibility tab

Check the box for Run as Administrator

Click OK

Now, with the target thumb drive ready:

Click on cmd.exe and accept the prompt to run it

Type readspeed at the C:\ prompt and press Enter

Follow the prompts to insert the thumb drive. Info on the thumb drive’s contents will be displayed. You will be requested to type NUKE to nuke it.

The thumb drive will be re-formatted, erasing all files and folders on it.

A custom FreeDOS bootable environment will be written to it along with a copy of rs.exe, the DOS executable ReadSpeed utility.

You now have a bootable USB thumb drive

At this point a copy of SpinRite 6.0, spinrite.exe, may be placed on it. (And a copy of SpinRite 5.0 if you have it and want it handy)

Also, a copy of any SpinRite 6.1 development test release may be placed on it.

This USB thumb drive can now be booted on any BIOS-DOS bootable machine that will boot from USB.

The first thing seen, when booting from this drive, will be the ReadSpeed splash screen.

At this point:


- Press Enter to run ReadSpeed


- Press ESC to drop to a DOS C:\ prompt

At the C:\ prompt you may run SpinRite 6.0 (or 5.0 if you have it), or any SpinRite 6.1 development release, or ReadSpeed (rs.exe).

Some alternatives


Download InitDisk.exe and place it in the folder described above.

At the C:\ prompt (see above) enter: InitDisk FreeDOS and press Enter

This will create a bootable USB stick with plain vanilla FreeDOS, which will be adequate for running SpinRite 6.0


The free utility Rufus may be also be used to create a plain vanilla FreeDOS bootable USB thumb drive.

There are other alternatives.

SpinRite 6.0 Caveats

SpinRite 6.0 was released in 2004. It has been overtaken by the evolution of technology. Thus, SR 6.0 will have many limitations where modern hardwire is concerned. These limitations include:
- Not compatible with AHCI controller mode (restricted to ATA/IDE/Legacy controller modes)
- Not compatible with GPT drives
- Not compatible with UEFI booting (restricted to BIOS booting)
- Slow BIOS I/O speed
- Not compatible with large (>2 TB) drives

The list goes on.

This is why Steve is working on the HUGE task of creating/building SpinRite 6.1. SR 6.1 will eliminate most (but not all) of the serious limitations currently crippling SR 6.0 on modern hardware.

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