Break the barriers- boot through removable media

There are occasions when there arises a need to by pass the orthodox way of booting through your system HDD. This may be a case when you fail to boot from your hard disk and want to recover your data, or you forget your account password and have to recover your data before you format the HDD. Or an incident when you don’t have your HDD anymore! Or when you need to seek-peek into some one else’s system to get your hands on his data. Like they show in movies, plug in a USB device to by pass all barriers and accomplish your mission. Though there is stuff available on net to download and get going without breaking a sweat, the thrill of making your own “Bootable USB windows pen drive” is really adrenaline pumping.

Getting down to serious business, what you need is-

  1. A mother board that supports booting from USB devices ( check boot device priority to verify boot from USB HDD, USB device etc, most new generation mobo’s support that).
  2. A pen drive of minimum 256MB capacity ( else a CD to make bootable CD).
  3. Your windows XP setup CD.
  4. Software-
    1. Bart’s PE builder 3.1
    2. PEtoUSB tool from
    3. N-lite
    4. Plug-ins as desired. Following are must haves-
  1. Fire fox .cab plug-in available on
  2. WinRAR plug-in from
  3. Total commander setup
  4. Deep burner setup
  5. McAfee stinger (latest version)
  6. Irfan view.

Download the stuff mentioned in point 4, all are freeware.

Step1: Insert your windows XP setup CD and copy all the contents of the CD to a folder on desktop. These are the installation files which will be required by Bart’s PE.

Step2: Install N-lite and run the program. This program is used to scale down the size of XP installation on by removing the services and applications that aren’t required or desired by you. The interface lets you choose the applications you want to include and remove others. Wisely manage the applications and save the made setup. This will be overwritten in the folder you made on desk top.

(Apart from the above, N-lite can be used to integrate service packs, hot fixes and patches in your windows installation and make a bootable setup CD for installing windows)

Step3 : Install Bart’s PE builder and run the program. In source (path to windows installation files), show the location to the folder containing files copied from XP CD.

Step 4: Now its time to integrate plug-ins into your installations. In the Bart’s PE main interface, there in a plug-in tab.

  1. Install deep burner free on your system and copy files from installation directory to-

<PE-Builder>\plugin\deepburner\files directory.

Then click enable tab in plug-ins window. Click help in plug-ins window to see help regarding operation. Deep burner is a CD/DVD burning software that you may require to burn back up to optical media from host PC.

  1. Install Irfan view and following help file of plug-in window, copy files from installation directory to the folder specified in help. Irfan view is a photo editing and viewing software that you may require to view and copy your important photos.

Note: There may be issue of irfanview not getting enabled due to missing file error. Go to C:\pebuilder3110a\plugin\irfanview and open the irfanview.inf file. There you may need to change name of source disk files from Irfan view to iview_32 and change extension of help file from .hlp to .chm . Save it and that must solve the problem.

  1. Stinger is a stand alone antivirus scanner that you may need to make sure you aren’t coping viruses in your backups. It is a single file application. Just copy the file to plug-in directory and enable the plug-in. If it shows error, you may need to change the name of source file in stinger.inf to the name of downloaded file. Save and enable, that solves the problem.
  2. Unlike in our windows, Bart’s PE environment doesn’t come with explorer to access files with ease. Though it has a file management utility, it is better to add total commander, a utility that eases the operation of managing files. Install Total commander and copy the files from installed location to the plug-ins directory. You may need to alter code in totalcmd.inf to suit the copied files.
  3. Now its time to include custom plug-ins. To start with, go to ADD tab in plug-ins window and add the Firefox plug-in. This plug-in includes all files too. So, just add the plug-in and enable it.
  4. Similarly add the WinRAR plug-in. This doesn’t contain files and hence install WinRAR on your system and copy the required files mentioned in help file to the plug-ins directory. Adding WinRAR will easy the backup task by reducing size of backups and making archive of file groups.
  5. Disable Drive snap shot, which is trial version, and can’t be used without key. Instead download the NT backup plugin and include in your installation. This lets you make and restore backups using windows NT backup.

Step 5: When you finish including all plugins, select close. Then select the build command in main interface. In media output section, select to make a bootable .ISO, which may later be burned to a CD using any CD/DVD burner. Apart from the image, the Bart’s PE installation is built in C:\pebuilder3110a\BartPE.

Step 6: Run PE2USB application. Following instructions, show the location of Bart’s PE files to the folder where you built the installation, C:\pebuilder3110a\BartPE , by default. Enable format and enable copy. Click start and your pen drive will be ready in no time.

Step 7 : To boot from pen drive, go to BIOS and enable boot from USB device or change the boot device priority with USB HDD as first device and HDD as second. Save and restart.

Note: To take backup of your installation, compress the C:\pebuilder3110a\BartPE folder to a archive and  save it. When ever you need a bootable pen drive, no need to repeat all the procedure, just run PE2USB, show location of extracted files of Bart’s PE and copy them to pen drive. i.e., just follow step 10.

I am still working on making Bart’s PE more useable, having enabled PDF reader, power point viewer , VLC player and NT backup. I am working on including Realtek audio drivers for playing music in VLC player ( only video playing till now) and including word viewer to see word files. I would appreciate it very much if some one can help me out in this. See you then….!!!

Visit the following sites for more plugins –,,