Making a Bootable DOS USB Drive: Step-by-Step Guide

Bootable DOS USB creating Step-by-Step Guide

Regardless of the fact that DOS is not a widely used operating system today, many devices and systems continue to run it. In particular, a number of instructions for updating (firmware) BIOS recommend that all procedures be carried out in the environment of this operating system.
Creating a bootable USB for DOS may still be relevant in a number of areas, and therefore in this material we will write about the system itself and how to create a bootable USB.

What is DOS?

DOS, which stands for Disk Operating System, is an operating system designed to work with disk drives. The key moment for its emergence was the appearance in 1981 of the MS-DOS system, which was created by Microsoft for the first personal computers IBM PC. The DOS system is organized quite simply. It operates on a command line basis where the user needs to enter special commands to perform operations. This could be launching a program, copying a file, or managing disk partitions. The entire user interface is reduced to a black and white screen with a blinking cursor, where one-line commands perform control functions.

Modern devices that support DOS

Examples of systems and media in which DOS still plays an important role are varied. When it comes to personal computers, the BIOS, whose earliest versions were closely related to DOS, uses an architecture based on its elements and if it is updated, it is the DOS environment that is required. Motherboard manufacturers may provide updates that run exclusively under DOS. This system is still relevant for solving problems such as memory testing, hard drive diagnostics, or firmware flashing of individual devices (for example, IPMI or RAID controllers). Sometimes network or system administrators need to perform complex operations with DOS batch files, such as for mass deployment of software or updates.
DOS devices

Devices that people don’t access as often as their own smartphones or computers often also run on DOS or its modifications. In particular, embedded systems, such as those in industry and manufacturing, where the reliability and lightness of the operating system are required, are often based on DOS. Cash registers, some models of ATMs, motor control devices – all of them can operate under DOS or its modifications.

In addition to these areas, the system still finds its application in medical devices, for example, in tomographs, where a complex graphical interface is not required, but the stability of the system is important. It is also worth mentioning that DOS is still used by some fans of old computer games and developers for educational purposes to learn the basics of operating systems and low-level programming.

In what cases might it be useful to create a bootable USB flash drive for DOS?

A bootable USB with DOS operating system is a specialized tool that includes a DOS (Disk Operating System) system on external media. The creation of such a device is relevant for a user who is faced with the need to diagnose or restore a system running DOS, or who requires access to low-level utilities that are independent of the main operating system of the computer.

A DOS-bootable USB drive allows you to perform a variety of operations, from formatting your hard drive to updating the BIOS. It is especially useful in situations where modern operating systems do not provide the necessary level of control over the hardware, or when the computer cannot boot into the standard operating system after a virus attack or hardware failure.

Creating a Bootable DOS USB Drive

First of all, make sure you have a free USB drive, the minimum required volume of which is 4 GB.

It is important that the drive does not contain the necessary data, as it will be deleted.
You will also need software to create a bootable USB that works with a DOS system. We will use Rufus – it stands out from other tools for working with bootable media due to its speed, versatility, and ease of use.

Download Rufus from the official website. You can choose both full and portable versions.
rufus website

Let’s start installing and creating a bootable drive.
At this point, launch Rufus and insert the flash drive into a free port. Rufus will detect it in the “Device” field, and if there is another value there, select your USB drive from the list.
Dos usb creating

Next, in the “Boot Selection” field we will select the “FreeDOS” value. The program will automatically change the partition recording style, target system and file system.
Create FreeDOS bootable USB in Rufus

In the “Cluster size” field, set the value to “32-kilobytes”
In the “Cluster size” field, set the value to “32-kilobytes”
Check the boxes for the options for quick formatting and creating advanced labels and icons (this is not so necessary and does not affect the process too much, but it speeds it up and makes it easier to use the files), then click “Start”
In the next step, we will receive a warning that the flash drive will be overwritten and all existing data on it will be deleted. Let’s confirm this.
In the next step, we will receive a warning that the flash drive will be overwritten and all existing data on it will be deleted.
The program started working. Most likely, the process will take place in less than 5 minutes.
Rufus started working
After the recording ends, you will see the message “READY”. The boot drive is ready. You can close the program. Remove it safely from your USB, now you can connect it to the desired device (if your computer has the desired device, you don’t have to disconnect the USB).
Now our task is to change the boot priority so that your USB is the bootable media. To do this, let’s go to the BIOS. To go there, you need to restart your computer and, at the moment the system starts, press a certain key, which may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer (most often these are the Delete, F2, F10, F12 or Esc keys).
After successfully entering the BIOS, you should go to the section that controls the boot sequence of devices, or Boot Priority. The name of this section may also vary, but as a rule, it is indicated by the words “Boot”, “Boot Options”, or “Boot Order”.
boot menu in bios
Use the arrow keys to navigate through the menus. We have marked the places where in our case we need to go and move the prepared USB drive to the first place in the list. Navigation arrows are also used for this.
After the procedure of moving the USB drive to first place in the boot priority, we return to the main menu and save the settings (F10 key).
The computer will restart, the system will load the data and if you did everything correctly, you will see the DOS system menu. You can start working.
DOS interface (bootable usb)
I hope this material was clear and useful.
May your process of creating a DOS bootable usb be successful.

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