How to Check If a USB Drive Is Bootable or Not in Windows 10

If you’ve just created a bootable USB drive, you might want to find out if you were successful. You can restart your computer and try to boot off the drive, but if you’d rather not restart your computer, you can use one of the methods below to find out if a USB drive is bootable or not in Windows 10.

The easiest way to check a drive’s bootable state is with MobaLiveCD, a wrapped-for-the-Qemu-system emulation software. It will actually run an ad-hoc virtual machine and attempt to boot from your USB, so it’s a fairly robust way to check the drive’s bootable state.

1. Download MobaLiveCD from the developer’s website.

2. After the download is complete, right click on the downloaded EXE and choose “Run as Administrator” for the context menu. If you don’t run the program as administrator, you’ll get an error reading “Setup cannot copy the file kqemu.sys,” and you won’t be able to proceed past step five.

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3. Click on the button labeled “Run the LiveUSB” in the bottom half of the window.

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4. Chose the USB drive you want to test from the drop-down menu. In this case I’ve selected the F:/ drive. If you’re not sure what the drive letter is, check an Explorer window and locate the drive in the sidebar.

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5. When asked to create a hard disk for your virtual machine, click “No” next to the red X.

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6. Next, you’ll see a command prompt appear with a little boot-up text. This means the virtual machine is attempting to boot from the drive you selected in the previous step.

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7. If you see the Windows logo, this means your drive is bootable! You can click the X in the upper-right to close the window.

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If the process freezes or hangs at the command window, then your drive is not bootable.

You can also use the (admittedly very old) freeware Magic ISO Maker to see if a disk image is bootable. This actually works best on images themselves, but it’s a good way to ensure an image is bootable before you burn it to a USB.

1. Download Magic ISO Maker. If you’ve been using computers since the nineties, you might get some serious nostalgia from the ancient, full-screen installer.

2. Once the installation is finished, open Magic ISO Maker and chose “Open…” from the “File” menu.

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3. Choose your ISO file from the menu.

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4. Look in the menu bar. If it says “Bootable,” that ISO will be bootable once it’s burned to a CD or USB drive. If it doesn’t say bootable, it obviously won’t work to create bootable media.

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The best way to test if a drive is bootable is to actually try to boot your computer from your drive. But if you’d prefer not to restart your computer, you can use MobaLiveCD to test the drive. If you’re trying to make sure a disk image (like an ISO or DMG) is bootable before you burn it to a USB or CD, you can use Magic ISO Maker to see if the image contains the files necessary to boot properly.

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