We’re launching a few new weekly features on Lifehacker: Must-Have App Profiles, usually free. We’ll be breaking them down by platform throughout the week, just in case you’re a Windows or macOS devotee and have sworn never to (already) use the other operating system.
To kick off our Windows coverage, we’re looking at Rufus, a lightweight utility that makes creating bootable USB drives incredibly easy.
The strangest name for the most useful utility
We don’t really have the name, but it’s good. Rufus developer Pete Batard might call the utility Black-smith and we still used it regularly. Since we live in an age where the concept of “DVD player” or “Blu-ray player” has mostly followed the dinosaur’s way on desktops and laptops, using a flash drive is incredibly useful. as “reusable DVD” of sorts.
For example, let’s say you want to keep a fresh copy of Windows 10 ISO on a flash drive somewhere for easy reinstallation anytime. Or, for that matter, maybe you just want to create an ISO file of a simple and working Windows 10 installation as a convenient backup.
There are even cases where you might need a bootable USB drive, for example to update your motherboard firmware, or if you just want to play with a live version of an alternate operating system. for some reason. You might even want to run a bootable application like MemTest86 +.
(I was using Rufus the other day to create a bootable macOS High Sierra ISO image to play with; don’t tell Cupertino.)
Not only is Rufus easy to use, it is also super fast. As Batard notes:
“Oh, and Rufus is quick. For example, it is about twice as fast as UNetbootin, Universal USB Installer, or Windows 7 USB download tool, when creating a Windows 7 USB install drive from an ISO. It is also slightly faster when creating a Linux bootable USB drive from ISO.
As a bonus, the app doesn’t require you to install anything to use it. Just download the executable and double click. You can probably leave most of the settings at their defaults, although you probably want to set your USB drive’s file system to FAT32 for maximum compatibility in most cases. Click on the disk icon to load an ISO image, click on Start and enjoy your new bootable USB drive. It’s that simple.
Do you have a Windows app (paid or free) that you love? Tell us about it: firstname.lastname@example.org.