Use this guide if you have trouble when booting from a REAL SYSTEM
|Try FlashBoot for 99% Bootability!
RMPrepUSB can make most USB drives bootable and includes a specially modified version of grubinst.exe, but some older BIOSes may have problems booting from USB devices. I recommend FlashBoot if you need to create a USB drive that will boot on these badly behaved systems.
Please click here to test a time-limited trial version and see if it works for you.
How to prepare a Easy2Boot USB drive using FlashBoot
Step 1 - Check MBR-booting using QEMU
Before starting any tests:
- Test your USB Flash drive using FakeFlashTest.
- If you did not make the E2B USB drive using the Make_E2B_USB_Drive.cmd batch file, make a fresh USB drive using it (do not use linux).
- Ensure the MBR partition table contains two primary partitions
- Download the LATEST VERSION OF E2B to a new folder and run the UPDATE_E2B_DRIVE.cmd script to update your E2B drive.
- Check the E2B Version History for a new Beta version + bug fixes.
- Delete or rename the \_ISO\MyE2B.cfg file if it exists, in case some settings are adversley affecting E2B.
- If there is a STRINGS.txt or MENU.LST in the \_ISO folder, then delete it.
Note: In some circumstances, the Windows Format utility can format a USB drive as a floppy disk (with no partition table or MBR) which will not boot correctly. Use RMPrepUSB or the E2B script to make a USB Flash drive.
Test booting to the Main Menu using QEMU
For a 'boot' test, run the \QEMU_MENU_TEST (run as admin).cmd file as Administrator on the E2B USB drive. No matter what Windows system you have, a freshly-made Easy2Boot USB drive should ALWAYS boot to the E2B Main Menu when using QEMU. QEMU is a 32-bit CPU emulator - i.e. it emulates a PC system which contains a 32-bit CPU and a standard 32-bit non-UEFI BIOS (and no internal hard disk).
You can also test E2B booting use the version of QEMU that is contained in RMPrepUSB. Just run RMPrepUSB, select the E2B USB drive that you want to test and hit the F11 key. If you are asked to set a Virtual Hard Disk size, you can either set 0 for no drive (just for testing that we can get to the Main Menu) or set the size of a Virtual Hard disk (e.g. 15000MB). For the amount of memory to assign to the Virtual Machine, you can use between 64MB and 900MB (it may not be able to run QEMU if you allocate >900MB of memory).
Because QEMU uses it's own BIOS and emulates the hardware in a Virtual system, it should always successfully boot to the Main Menu of E2B. If not, then something is wrong with the USB drive or it's contents.
: QEMU emulates a 32-bit CPU - you cannot boot 64-bit ISO files or 64-bit payload files from the E2B menus. If the problem begins once a 64-bit payload starts to boot, then try installing VirtualBox and DavidB's VMUB utiity instead of using QEMU - see here
If you find QEMU too slow, use Virtual Box + VMUB - see here
for details. This allows you to boot 32-bit and 64-bit payloads, allocate far more memory and also can 32-bit and 64-bit UEFI-boot too.
E2B not detecting some payload files?
if you have E2B v1.78+, use the UTILITIES - ls menu to list the files in any folder on the E2B USB drive. Check that the filename and file extension is correct (spaces in grub4dos filenames will be preceded by a \ character).
Make sure that the payload file does not also have a matching .txt file in the same folder. If it does (if you created one) then delete it and re-test.
- Rename the \_ISO\MyE2B.cfg file to a different name so that it does not change E2B.
- Use NotePad and create a file called NEW.txt - edit it and add some characters so it is not 0 size, save it and rename it as DUMMY.ISO.
- Make sure the file extension is .ISO and not .ISO.txt (configure Explorer to show file extensions).
- Copy the DUMMY.ISO file to various different E2B folders - e.g. \_ISO\MAINMENU, \_ISO\LINUX, \_ISO\WINDOWS\WIN8.
- Boot using QEMU, you should see the MAINMENU files being detected and the WINDOWS .iso and .imgPTN files counted - press SPACEBAR to pause the screen and check it. Press SPACEBAR twice quickly to continue to the next point.
- Press ENTER to continue to the Main Menu. You should see E2B report that at least one Windows Install file is present if you have an iso in one of the \_ISO\WINDOWS\xxxx folders.
- Press SHIFT+P and enter the E2B menu password ('easy2boot').
- Press SHIFT+C to get to the grub4dos command console, now type
to see what files are listed (tip: use TAB key for autocompletion). One of them should be DUMMY.ISO
- If some files are not listed by E2B, but DUMMY.ISO is listed and in the same folder, then check the name, extension and size of the file that is not listed.
Step 2 - Test on several different REAL SYSTEMS (can't boot to E2B)
If you are having problems booting to the E2B Main Menu on a REAL SYSTEM but it is OK on QEMU, then there must be a compatibility problem between the real system and the USB drive+contents.
Tip: If you suspect a problem with your BIOS (e.g. boots with flashing cursor), always SWITCH OFF YOUR SYSTEM and then switch it on again to test a USB drive. Do NOT reset or reboot the computer (warm reboot) because the BIOS may remember the USB geometry and device type only on power up. Always switch off between tests.
For instance, on power-up, your BIOS may determine that your USB drive should be treated as a USB ZIP drive or USB Floppy drive. If you then re-partition and reformat the USB drive as a USB HDD, the BIOS may still attempt to boot it as a USB floppy unless you switch off and then switch it on again so that POST re-detects and re-enumerates the USB drive again.
To boot from an E2B USB drive, you must set up the BIOS\UEFI firmware correctly for MBR\CSM booting. See h ere
for BIOS settings for different systems.
Wherever possible, do not change the boot order (do not specify the USB drive as the first boot device) - instead, use a Function Key (e.g. F8, F9, F11, F12 or ESC) to bring up a BIOS Boot Selection (BBS) menu so that you can choose which device to boot from. This is because on some BIOSes, if you set the USB as HDD0, then some OS's, once they have booted, may see the first hard disk as the USB drive instead of the internal hard disk and install boot code onto the USB drive!
Note that some BIOS menus have a BIOS setting which, if enabled, means you have to press Fn+F9 instead of just F9 - i.e. you need to hold down the Fn key first. If the manual says to press F9 and that does not seem to bring up the BIOS boot menu, try Fn+F9. Also, some BIOSes have a very rapid startup and you need to switch it on quickly and then repeatedly hammer the correct key before it boots to Windows or linux from the hard disk! Sometimes just holding down the key just after switch-on works too. Another strategy is to look for a lit LED (e.g. keyboard or camera) after power-on and then start hammering a key.
Typical BIOS settings required are:
- Legacy or CSM = Enabled
- Fast Boot = Disabled
- Secure Boot = Disabled
- Boot - Boot Priority - Legacy First
The first thing to do is try the same E2B USB drive on different types of systems (PCs, Notebooks, Tablets, etc.) - if some will boot to the Main Menu but others will not, then we know that there is a compatibility problem with certain types of systems. This type of problem can often be fixed by changing the BIOS settings (see below), re-making the USB drive using the Windows script provided or updating the BIOS version.
If E2B partially boots, take note of any error or warning messages and look them up by using this site's Search box.
Note that some BIOSes will try to boot a USB drive as a floppy disk (which usually won't work). If you add a second PRIMARY partition to the USB drive, most BIOSes will then treat the USB drive as a hard disk (which should always work - this is what the Windows script does for you). If using linux, use gparted or fdisk to create a 2nd partition (you may need to reduce the 1st partition slightly).
Also, some bad BIOSes will directly boot to the boot code in the PBR, so ensure that grub4dos is installed to both the MBR and PBR.
If you use the Windows script/executable to prepare the E2B drive, it will automatically create two partitions and install grub4os to the MBR and PBR.
Step 3 - Try a different USB drive and on different USB ports
Sometimes, some types of USB drive are not compatible with some systems/BIOSes. So install E2B to a different make/model/type of USB drive and try that on the real systems. Don't worry if the USB drive is not the one you want to end up using - this is just a test.
Problems have been seen with Mushkin USB drives, HP InSyde BIOS+Danelec/MSI USB flash drives, Emtec 64gb USB 3.0 color mix flash drives.
Beware of any USB drives that are very slow in use or cause your system to take a long time before the BIOS Boot selection menu appears. Test using RMPrepUSB Speed Test and Quick Size Test. Do not use cheap, unbranded or slow USB drives. A Quick Size test should take a few minutes (not 1 hour+!) and the Speed Test should return at least 5MB/s+ speeds for both read and write.
If you find that some USB drives work and some don't, you should check that the BIOS is the most recent available for that system (see below).
If you suspect that there is something about the USB drive that one particular system does not like, use RMPrepUSB to format the USB drive as FAT32+'Boot as HDD' and then Install grub4dos to the MBR and PBR. Then see if it boots to the grub4dos console. If it boots, try adding the E2B files to the USB drive. You can view the MBR and PBR using RMPrepUSB - Drive Info - 0 and P1.
Tip: Some USB Flash drives have badly-designed connectors and these may not make contact properly in some USB sockets which have weak springs. If you find it does not work in some USB ports but does in others, try using a short USB extension cable instead of plugging it into the USB socket directly.
Step 4 - System Setup Menu (BIOS Settings)
There are two types of x86 systems - ones with the old IBM-compatible BIOS (so called MBR BIOS) and ones with the new UEFI firmware. Any retail system that contained Windows 8/10 when it was purchased, should contain UEFI-firmware.
MBR BIOS systems
Consult the manual for your system. Often you will need to enable USB booting, disable any Quick/Fast boot option and enable the USB ports in the BIOS Setup menu.
Tip: To get to the BIOS Setup menu, you usually need to press a key (like DEL, ESC, F1 or F2).
If the BIOS supports a BBS menu option (BIOS Boot Selection menu) then it is best NOT to change the BIOS boot order, but press the BBS key (e.g. F8, F12, F10, ESC) to get a list of devices which you can boot to.
- Disable Secure Boot (if UEFI system)
- Enable USB 2.0 or 3.0
- Ensure the USB drive appears in the boot list (as a hard disk, not as a Floppy or ZIP drive)
- Enable Legacy/CSM/MBR/BIOS mode if a UEFI system
- Disable Fast Boot
- Make sure that no \EFI folder is present on the E2B USB drive (this sometimes prevents MBR booting to the grub4dos E2B Menu) if a UEFI system.
- Some UEFI systems will not show the non-UEFI CSM boot option if a .efi boot file is present on the USB drive partition.
- Ensure there are two primary partitions in the partition table on the USB drive
Note: Some systems (e.g. Acer AO725) will not allow you to even see the Secure Boot or Legacy/MBR BIOS options in the Setup Menu unless you set a Supervisor Password first. Choose a simple password that you will never forget (or write it on the underside of the PC/laptop)
These systems may be set up to boot only from UEFI boot files only, or Secure Boot may be enabled.
To boot from an E2B USB drive, you must disable Secure Boot in the UEFI Setup menu. Also you must enable Legacy Mode (often called CSM or BIOS mode).
If the UEFI system supports a BBS menu option (BIOS Boot Selection menu) then it is best NOT to change the disk boot order, but press the BBS key (e.g. F10) to get a list of devices which you can boot to.
On a UEFI system, you may see two menu entries for the same USB drive, one is for UEFI-booting from the USB drive (we cannot boot to the E2B Menu using UEFI) and the other will be for BIOS\MBR-booting (which is the one we need!).
BBS menu showing UEFI and non-UEFI boot options for the WD USB drive
If you only see a UEFI menu option for booting from the E2B USB drive, then ensure that CSM\Legacy mode has been enabled and that the E2B USB drive does not contain a \EFI folder (there is no \EFI folder in the E2B download, so there should not be one on the E2B USB drive!). This is because some UEFI systems will not offer a non-UEFI CSM boot option if a .efi boot file is present on the FAT32 USB drive partition.
For more UEFI info and if you have any trouble booting UEFI payloads - see the Useful things to know
Step 6 - Update the BIOS\Firmware
Sometimes the system's BIOS\UEFI firmware contains bugs. Check the manufacturers website for a later version and update your system.
Step 7 - Disconnect all other USB devices
If you have other USB devices (e.g. card readers, other USB drives, USB wireless mouse dongle, USB printers, etc.), disconnect them before you switch on the system and try to boot from the E2B USB drive.
Also try different USB ports (rear and front, USB 3.0 and USB 2.0). Do not use a USB extension cable, connect the USB drive directly to the USB port.
If you find you can now boot, re-connect each device again until you find the one that is causing the problem - then try connecting that one to a different USB port.
If grub4dos is not loading correctly or hanging, there may be an incompatibility somewhere else. If possible, temporarily disconnect or disable the internal hard drives and CD\DVD drives. If possible, change the graphics card.
Step 8 - Contact Me
Use the Contact Me
form to contact me and ask for advice. Please let me know what happened when you tried each of the steps above together with any successful combinations and any failing combination.
- Case 1: HP Pavillion Model XYZ + Mushkin 16GB USB 3.0 flash drive - works in QEMU but not when booting from other real system
- Case 2: HP Pavillion Model XYZ + Corsair Voyager GT 32GB USB 3.0 flash drive - works in QEMU and when booting from other real system
- Case 3: Dell Model XYZ + Mushkin 16GB USB 3.0 flash drive - works in QEMU and also when booting from real system but not DELL XYZ
This clearly shows a problem with the HP BIOS and Mushkin USB drives (this is just an example)