Making a USB Drive or Memory Card bootable using PEBuilder

   Posted by Jimmy Selix in Windows

This recipe will explain how to make a bootable USB Drive or Flash Memory card. Your motherboard/computer will need to support such options and also note that this may not work with ALL usb drives or memory cards. We will be using PE Builder, HP’s USB Drive format tool, and Windows Server 2003 SP1 to do this. Lets get geeking.

First things first; we need to get our ingredients/applications.

-PE Builder

-Windows Server 2003

-HP USB Format utility (finding link on HP site is impossible).

1. Install PEBuilder. Make a note of where you install it since we will be hanging out there a lot.

2. Download the Windows Server 2003 SP1 update. We will not be running this update but extracting 2 files from it.

If you have Winzip installed, you can just right-click on the .exe file, and choose to Extract to Folder. Once you have the update files extracted, go to the i386 folder and copy the file: setupldr.bin to the pebuilder folder\srsp1 (you will need to create the srsp1 folder in the pe builder folder, usually C:\pebuilder3110a\ )

To get the second file, we will need to bust out some command prompt and the expand command.

First, lets make this easier and copy ramdisk.sy_ to the srsp1 folder we just created and has the setupldr.bin file in (ie c:\pebuilder3110a\srsp1\ramdisk.sy_

Open up command prompt and change directory to c: by typing: cd\

then type: cd pebuilder3110a
type: cd srsp1
and finally type: expand -r ramdisk.sy_ ramdisk.sys

this will expand the file to the srsp1 folder. you may get an error in the command prompt, you can ignore that since it still will expand the file.

You can now delete the windows server 2003 sp1 folder that we extracted the .exe to. we only needed the two files from the whole SP1

3. Download the HP USB Format utility. You will not need to install it since its just an executable file that runs.

4. Connect your USB Drive or insert your memory card, i’ll use my 1GB SD card (since i have a pc that has a USB Memory card reader and my pc can boot to USB devices).

5. Run the HP’s USB utility. Hopefully your device shows up in the drop down, mine shows up as Z: (along w/my other memory card reader types).

Change the File System to FAT and give it a label and click Start.

Do a yes to the warning and let it format. It shouldn’t take too long and will show a results screen when done.

Click OK and then click on Close to exit the utility.

This utility basically will format the usb drive or memory card and also make the partition active (which seems to be key to getting it bootable and to work w/PEBuilder).

6. Open up PE Builder. It may ask to search for windows installation files, for now choose No.

7. Next, we will need to setup PE Builder to find our Windows XP source files. The easiest thing to do is just insert your Windows XP Setup CD and copy the i386 folder to your harddrive. I have all of my OS copied to my harddrive for backup and to run installs from.

Once you have the i386 folder copied, in PE Bulider click on the … button under Source and browse to the folder where you copied the i386 folder.

Leave the Output as is: BartPE

Then under Media Output, also leave that at None.

Finally, you can now configure any plugins you may want to add such as Adaware, Ghost8, Nero Burn, etc. This is nice for making diagnostic/fix boot discs.

Once your done, just click the Build button. This will now create the iso file we will use to make the USB Driver or memory card bootable w/the BartPE os.

8. Finally, we will need to open up command prompt again.

Type: cd\ to get to the root of the c drive.

then change directory to the pebuilder folder, ie cd pebuilder3110a

finally, type: pe2usb z:

where z: is the drive letter of my usb drive or memory card.

let it finish and now try out your bootable usb drive / memory card. remember to set your bios to boot from usb-fdd if possible or usb-hdd (which ever your usb drive shows as).


Again, this may or may not work with your usb drive/memory card depending on the card/drive and your motherboard and how it boots.

here is a link to the Help manual for PEBuilder at bart’s PE site

also forum board for discussions:

For more info on creating a live bootable cd/dvd, check out the recipe here:

–you can also format your usb drive using this command when you in the pebuilder folder:

c:\pebuilder3110a\pe2usb -f z:

the -f flag will tell the batch file to format the drive; this did not work for my Sandisk Cruzer USB Drive but the HP USB Utility did. I was able to boot it on a Dell C640 and X300 so far.


About Jimmy Selix

Jimmy Selix is an early adopter that loves to be one of the first on the block to have the latest and greatest in technology and gadgets. Another love of his is being able to share his knowledge to others seeking it. Feel free to drop any comments or questions that you may have.
View more articles by Jimmy Selix

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22 Responses to “Making a USB Drive or Memory Card bootable using PEBuilder”

  1. November 30, 2008 at 7:30 am, luis said:

    What about if I have a windows vista? ’cause I’m searching that thingy the i386 to put on PE Builder , but I can’t find it, and I don’t have the CDs of installation, so I’m stock with it.
    PLEASE HELP!!!!!


    • April 05, 2009 at 10:50 am, MT said:

      You HAVE to have the installation CD’s. The i386 directory is on the installation media, it will not be on your system unless specifically copied there.


  2. December 14, 2008 at 10:25 pm, Mike said:

    Thanks for the heads up – v.easy to follow – does what it says on the tin


  3. February 27, 2009 at 2:18 pm, rdc said:

    Great guide and seems easy t ofollow, but when I tried ot boot from it (and I tried 2 different devices; a micro SD card adn a USB stick) I get a message
    “For Realtek RTL8111B/8111C Gigabit Ether Controller v.2.17 (0080602)
    PXE-E61: Media test failure, check cable
    PXE-M0F: Existing PXE Rom

    I gather htis may mean that for some reason they are not bootable… any ideas; I have now spent almost 2 days trying to get XP onto an SDcard to I can install it on a linux netbook


  4. May 24, 2009 at 5:37 pm, Niko said:

    can’t understand why have to use HP usb format utility? windows format does the same thigs.

    so far i’ve tried to install different xp’s many times from different usb sticks and memory cards to my eee pc 900.
    i don’t belive this works.


  5. July 09, 2009 at 1:49 am, jmantoo said:

    One thing you may have to do if the partition wont seem to boot and your making the boot disk in Vista is you will have to set the partition active manually. Using the HP utility doesnt work.

    This assumes you have followed all of the steps above.

    To make the partition active load up the command promt. and type Diskpart
    at the promt type “list disk”

    Find the number of the USB drive/SD card you made the boot image to.

    type ” select disk x” where x is the boot disk you made

    then type “select partition 1″

    next type “active”

    it should say the partion is now active remove the usb drive/ SD card and give it a try again.


  6. September 15, 2009 at 5:26 am, Anonymous said:

    where do you use the files you put in /srsp1?


  7. November 01, 2009 at 7:52 pm, David said:

    When I tried to use source D:i386, I got a response that the system cannot find the source path D:i386i386setupldr.bin…

    Why did it try to put i386 twice? I ended up just putting the root of the CD Rom drive in and tried it.

    I got a warning that building from an OEM version of Windows can mean trouble. Is this related to the i386 error?


  8. March 31, 2010 at 3:48 pm, Anonymous said:

    What if I just want to make an SD bootable using the files from a bootable FLOPPY disk for example my Drive Image Floopy – I modified it so I can use a single floppy instead of 2 so I can boot via floppy or use that as the image for a bootable CD

    do I just format dos bootable and copy the contents of the floppy over to the SD card? can I still use the rest of the space on the SD (for the drive image image file?)

    I assume SDHC won’t work? I noticed windows XP install “saw” my SDHC card but the drive image saw there was a card but saw it as “nothing” ie no size (I have not tried this with a smaller card yet I would be using a 2 to 4gb card (I have 4gb non sdhc cards)

    any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!


  9. May 02, 2010 at 10:53 am, Name said:

    Got a 4GB Sandisk U3 Cruzer here that doesn’t appear to want to be bootable, jus tin case anyone else is have problems with one.


  10. May 07, 2010 at 8:13 pm, Kelabu said:

    can i put windows xp,windows vista and windows 7 inside the USB ? reply my msg asap. pls ..tq :)


  11. June 16, 2010 at 12:47 am, Hansheinz said:

    I was amazed about the accuracy and clarity of your instructions, there was no problem on any new step, worked like a charm – sorry to say, without success. It accesses the flash drive (light indicator) but does not boot. I venture a wild guess. I have a couple of rescue disks which worked beautiful on my old computer (Phoenix BIOS) but do not work on my new one (American Megatrends BIOS) Could it be that the new BIOS’ abandoned DOS in favor of Linus or Unix? I also have a “Ultimate booting disk” made up from PEbuilder which does not boot on my new machine anymore (worked on the old one). Would you have any suggestions?


  12. December 16, 2010 at 3:03 am, ScreenAid laptops said:

    A simple article but including very useful informations. The steps of installing PEBuilder is very easy to understand and are worth for us to learn.


  13. January 09, 2011 at 11:03 am, Ẫṝṧḹằẵṋ Ṧằḟḓểṝ said:

    getting error
    (cannot find file f:i386setupldr.bin)


    • April 16, 2011 at 11:06 pm, Efgfd said:

      point to the dir above i386


  14. July 05, 2011 at 3:24 pm, Hardly Wiles said:

    I enjoyed reading your review. Thanks for the very detailed breakdown Booting from a USB flash drive is a great way to diagnose computer problems, I’ve been using Linux for this purpose, but it is good to know that we now have a way to do that in Windows!


  15. May 13, 2012 at 4:57 pm, Artur - flash drive said:

    What bothers me is the speed of this kind of storage. The computer would be a bit slow.


    • May 31, 2012 at 12:48 am, Jimmy Selix said:

      depends on the specs of the pc.. my 6core amd and 12gb of ram load it pretty fast. :) and also depends on speed of memory card, class 10 have no problems. i’ve made a new windows pe bootable environment that lets me instantly image a pc on the fly in less than 10 mins in 4 different formats. i’ll post an updated winpe based guide very shortly >


  16. November 04, 2012 at 8:31 pm, Magnus said:

    After about half way in I decided to not do this. I rebooted and noticed phoenix bios and setup was gone, how can I get this back


  17. December 14, 2012 at 9:32 am, vblank said:

    that great man , thanks a lot…… :-)


  18. August 15, 2013 at 7:58 am, swati said:

    hii…i hv hp mini n it is not supporting any usb device but is supporting the photon plus dongel n some old usb device of kb memory. got it checked all over but nobody could do it. so what iss the problem exactly?


  19. February 04, 2014 at 8:28 pm, Mr Berwyn H Price said:

    Hi Mr Selix,

    Have followed your guide “Making a USB Drive
    or Memory Card bootable using PEBuilder” to
    enable a 4GB SDHC card to run any program
    during bootup for Vista!

    But I have a problem: the programs I have
    tried so far do not contain a *.inf file in their

    What do I do? Or how do I create a *.inf
    file for each program?

    Can you help or do you know any ideas?

    Thank you for your patience in this matter
    and I do look forward to receiving a reply
    from you soon in the near future.


    Mr Berwyn H Price


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