How to Boot Multiple Operating Systems From One USB Drive

How To Store And Boot Different Operating Systems Installations Using One Usb Stick

When it comes to installing an operating system from scratch, users have the option to burn it onto a flash drive, then boot into it to begin the installation. However, if you decide to install a different OS, you must format the drive, then burn a new one. This process can be tedious, not to mention time-wasting. But if you use Ventoy, an open-source solution, you can instantly access several installations, even without burning or extracting them.

Good to know: need to check whether a USB drive is bootable in Windows? We show you how.

How to Create a Multi-Installation Flash Drive on Windows

First, you will need to acquire the ISO files for the operating systems you want to boot. You can download the ISO files from the official vendor website. For example, you can download the Windows 11 ISO file from Microsoft and the Ubuntu ISO file from Ubuntu’s website.

Note: Ventoy supports WIM, IMG, VHD(x), and EFI files, too – not just ISOs.

  1. Download Ventoy’s latest release from its GitHub page. Make sure to select the Windows installation.
Downloading Ventoy off GitHub.
  1. Extract the ZIP file and launch Ventoy from the “Ventoy2Disk.exe” file. Ventoy doesn’t need installation, as it’s a portable app.
  1. Insert the USB flash drive into your device. Its name will appear in the Ventoy window.
Installing USB drive via Ventoy.
  1. Select it and click “Install.” Make sure you don’t choose another flash drive by mistake.
  1. A confirmation window will inform you that Ventoy will format the USB flash drive.
Warning window alerting you that Ventoy will format USB data.
  1. The installation of the Ventoy software on the flash drive will begin and should take about a minute.
USB installation in Ventoy in progress.
  1. Once the installation is finalized, the flash drive will be renamed to “Ventoy.” At this point, copy your ISOs to the flash drive. You can copy as many as you would like if your flash drive has enough capacity.

Tip: you can use Command Prompt to create a Windows USB Installer. We demonstrate how in our guide.

ISO files copied on USB device formatted by Ventoy.
  1. Now that your multi-OS flash drive is ready to work, restart your PC to access the boot menu. Quickly hit your hardware-specific button before the Windows logo appears to access the boot manager. If you have a Lenovo, Dell, or Toshiba device, you need to press F12. For HP it’s F9, for Asus Del, and for Acer F2.
  2. After accessing the boot menu, you’ll see the option to boot into the flash drive with Ventoy. Select it and press Enter.
Selecting USB drive from Boot Manager on Lenovo laptop.
  1. A Ventoy screen should appear. Proceed to install any of the listed ISOs by navigating to them using the arrow buttons and pressing Enter.
Ventoy boot menu with different OS versions available.

Tip: learn how to install and use Chrome OS Flex on your Windows PC if you want some variety.

How to Lock Ventoy Files with a Password

You can lock your Ventoy flash drive with a password. This will prevent unauthorized users from accessing your files without permission and installing a new OS on your PC.

  1. Launch the “VentoyPlugson.exe” file from the Ventoy folder.
  2. Navigate to “Password Plugin.”
Navigating to "Password Plugin" in VentoyPlugson.
  1. You’ll see different options to add passwords in Ventoy. For instance, you can lock the boot process until the user provides a password. You can also set a password for installing ISO, IMG, and other types of files.
Password-setting options for Ventoy.
  1. To add a password, click the “Edit” button, then choose a password. A “TXT” password should be enough. Then, click “OK.”
Setting a password for Ventoy data.
  1. Booting into Ventoy will require the password you set up.
Password required fr accessing Ventoy USB.

Tip: having trouble finding your downloaded files on your Android device? Learn how to locate them.

How to Create a Multi-Installation Flash Drive on Android

A multi-installation flash drive can be built using an Android devices as well. This method can be beneficial if your computer is not accessible due to system failure. It can also be useful if you’ve just purchased a new PC or laptop.

  1. Download the ISO file on your Android device using your mobile browser. In this example, we are downloading Windows 11.
Downloading ISO file on Android.
  1. Download the free Ventoy app from the Google Play Store.
Ventoy app view in the Play Store.
  1. Open the app and insert the USB drive into your Android phone’s charging port. If you have a Type-C port and a Type-C USB drive, you can seamlessly connect them. However, you’ll need a USB-C to USB adapter (or OTG cable) if you have a regular USB-A flash drive or your Android device is using a micro USB port. Once you connect the flash drive, the app will require access to it.
Granting Ventoy access to your Android device.
  1. Once you allow access, an “Install” button will appear. This button installs the Ventoy software, not the ISO. Click on it and agree to the confirmation.
"Install Ventoy" pop-up on Android.
  1. Tap the “Files” icon, then the “+” to locate your downloaded ISO file.
Adding a new ISO to the Ventoy app on Android.
  1. Ventoy will copy the ISO to the flash drive, and after that, you can insert it into your PC and boot into it. It’s worth noting that just like the PC method, you can add as many ISOs as you would like.

FYI: would you like to run Android apps on Windows? Learn how to do it.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I remove Ventoy from a USB drive?

The right way to remove Ventoy from your USB drive is by launching the Ventoy2Disk app, clicking “Option” on the top bar, then selecting “Clear Ventoy.”

Can I use different themes for Ventoy?

The answer is yes. To do so, you’ll need to go through VentoyPlugson. Once you’ve launched it, click “Theme plugin” on the left and download your preferred theme from the list. You’ll need to move the theme folder to the Ventoy USB drive and add the path to the “theme.txt” file back into VentoyPlugson.

What is the difference between Ventoy and Rufus?

With Ventoy, you can create a multi-installation USB drive using the really simple and easy-to-understand interface. In contrast, Rufus allows you to create a bootable flash drive that contains only one OS. Note that it might be a bit harder for beginners to use, so browse through our detailed guide on how to get started.

MBR vs GPT: which should you choose?

Based on your firmware interface (UEFI or BIOS), you can choose between MBR and GPT when creating your bootable flash drive. You can do this from within Ventoy by going to “Option -> Partition style.”

Check whether your PC uses UEFI or BIOS by opening Run (Win + R) and typing msinfo32, then check the “BIOS Mode” section. If your device is out of reach, search online for your motherboard model number (PC) or device model number (laptop).

Image credit: Flaticon & Pexels. All screenshots by Mustafa Ashour.

Mustafa Ashour
Mustafa Ashour

Mustafa is a tech content writer who's a geek at heart. His passion lies in writing about technology, especially software-related topics. He's also interested in digital marketing, business development, and entrepreneurship. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Accounting and Finance.

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