Create Bootable USB or Disc Based on Windows PE or Linux

What is a bootable disc? How to create bootable CDs/DVDs or USB drives for Windows or Linux systems? Check out this article for the best solution to get your problems fixed in minutes. Continue to read and follow the instructions to find the answer.


By Delia Updated on May 20, 2024

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Introduction of Bootable Media

An installation disc (CD/DVD) is the traditional form of bootable media. It contains a bootable operating system, which is generally a compact version of Linux or Windows PE. If the Windows operating system (such as Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10/11) installed on a hard disk suffers an error or even fails to start, we can restore it through a Windows or Linux bootable disc to make the OS work normally.

However, not all users keep the original installation disk forever. We've also been given the ability to create our repair CD/DVD or bootable USB. For example, there are utilities that come with a Windows system to create a recovery drive. And currently, it might be a more popular choice to create a bootable USB or create bootable CDs due to its portability and compatibility.

The Benefits of Creating bootable CDs

Creating bootable CDs offers several benefits:

🚩Emergency Recovery: Bootable CDs serve as a crucial tool for emergency situations. They allow you to access your computer even if the operating system fails to start, facilitating troubleshooting and recovery efforts.
🚩Virus Removal: Bootable CDs often come with built-in antivirus and malware removal tools. This enables you to scan and clean your system from outside the infected operating system, effectively removing viruses and malware.
🚩System Maintenance: Bootable CDs include various system maintenance utilities such as disk partitioning, disk cloning, and data recovery tools. These utilities help you perform essential maintenance tasks without relying on the operating system.
🚩Data Backup and Recovery: Bootable CDs provide options for backing up and restoring data. You can create backups of important files and recover them in case of data loss, ensuring the safety of your valuable information.
🚩Versatility: Bootable CDs are compatible with a wide range of computer hardware configurations. This versatility allows you to use them on different devices for system repair, maintenance, and recovery purposes.

In summary, creating bootable CDs empowers you with the tools needed for emergency recovery, virus removal, system maintenance, data backup, and recovery, offering peace of mind and ensuring the smooth operation of your computer system.

Convenient Software to Create Bootable CDs for Windows and Linux

Here I would introduce a more comprehensive tool for creating a bootable disc/USB and starting the computer successfully - the bootable media maker AOMEI Backupper which supports creating either Windows or Linux bootable CD/USB Flash Drive. The former can be created straightway, while the latter may require installing the Windows AIK kit in your operating system in advance.

Start it now to create bootable CDs. With the created bootable disk, you can start a faulty computer and perform backup & recovery without booting into the system.

✍Tips: The Linux boot disc has several drawbacks, so we strongly recommend creating a Windows PE bootable CD first. Here's the comparison of the available functions between the 2 types of bootable media.

Features Windows PE bootable disc/USB Linux bootable disc/USB
File, Folder, Disk and partition backup
System Backup
System Restore
File, Folder, Disk and partition Restore
Disk and partition clone
Explore image file
Support hardware RAID

*It's also recommended to backup Windows drivers so as to restore them and ensure a working computer afterward. Or you may download the magic tool Driver Talent for Network Card which is able to download and install network drivers without an internet connection in case of no internet after system recovery.

Create Bootable USB/Disc for Windows or Linux with AOMEI Backupper

When making a Windows PE bootable CD, the free backup software - AOMEI Backupper will check whether your operating system meets the corresponding requirements.

For instance, is it necessary to install Windows AIK? If it is, this software will provide corresponding notices. And if your operating system is Vista or a higher version of OS, such as Windows 7/8/10/2008 R2/2011/2012/2016, usually you can directly create bootable CDs without installing Windows AIK.

This software can be used to start a crashed computer of HP, Lenovo, Acer, ASUS, Dell, etc. And the created media is able to boot in both BIOS and UEFI mode. So you don't need to worry about the compatibility issue.

Download it to create a bootable media for free.

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
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Advanced Preparations Before Creating Bootable CDs

To create bootable CDs or DVDs, you'll require these items:

⭐1. A computer with a CD or DVD drive.
⭐2. An ISO file, which holds the operating system or desired data for the CD. You can obtain a new ISO file from the official Windows website or generate one using third-party software for your current system.
⭐3. A blank CD or DVD.
⭐4. CD burning software like AOMEI Backupper.

How to Make Bootable USB Flash Drive or USB Disk

Step 1. Launch AOMEI Backupper. Select the "Create Bootable Media" option under the "Tools" tab.

Create Bootable Media

Step 2. In the pop-up window, choose the "Windows PE - Create bootable disc based on Windows PE" option (recommended), and then click "Next".

You can also choose to create a bootable disk based on the Linux kernel, but a Linux-based bootable media only allows you to use the basic functions of AOMEI Backupper.

Windows PE

Step 3. To create a bootable USB drive, you just need to select "USB Boot Device" as the screenshot shows, and then click "Next".

Select USB Drive

Step 4. When the operation is done, just click "Finish" to exit the interface.

Here you have already made a bootable USB. Then, you can reboot your computer, set the USB drive as the first boot device in BIOS settings, and test if your computer can boot from the disc.

When something bad happens, you can use it to boot your computer into WinPE, and perform backup and restore operations there. You can even use it to restore system images to a different computer using the Universal Restore feature.

How to Create Windows PE Bootable Disc

If you do not have a USB flash drive or simply want to create bootable CDs/DVDs, you can use a similar way to create a bootable disc.

Most of the steps are the same, just select the "Burn To CD/DVD" option instead of the "USB Boot Device" in the Select Bootable Media step.

Note: You need a CD-burning program, and also you need to insert the CD/DVD into the CD-ROM, or the "Burn To CD/DVD" option will not be available.

Burn to CD/DVD

How to Create Linux Bootable CD/DVD

The way to create a Linux bootable CD is just the same as those steps of creating a Windows PE bootable CD/USB Drive. The only difference is that you can create this kind of CD at any time without meeting any requirement, such as a Windows AIK installation. Just like what has been said before, the compatibility of Linux bootable CD might be a little bit poorer.

Refer to the steps above and choose “Linux - Create bootable disc based on Linux kernel” in Step 2 to make a Linux bootable disc. Here is a screenshot:

Linux Bootabe Disc

During the process of making a Linux CD, if you do not possess a CD, AOMEI Backupper allows you to create a bootable USB drive. The only requirement is that, when choosing the bootable media type, select the USB Boot Device. Then you can boot the operating system from the USB disk to do the recovery operations.

Note: Linux bootable media does not support EFI/UEFI boot, if your computer boot mode is UEFI mode, you need to enter into BOIS to change the BIOS boot mode from UEFI to Legacy Boot Mode like the following snapshot (you may also learn how to change the setting by referring to the manual of your motherboard).

boot mode

How to Create a Bootable ISO File

If you do not have a CD or a USB disk, or if there is a problem when making the bootable CD, you could create a bootable ISO file first, and then employ some burning software, like Nero to burn ISO files to a CD or USB disk.

Here are the operating steps for creating a bootable ISO file.

First, select the "Create Bootable Media" option under the "Tools" item. Then, select the bootable disc type (WinPE or Linux) and the "Export ISO File" option. Click "Next" to proceed.

Export ISO File

At last, click "Finish" when the operation has been done.


After creating the ISO file, you can easily burn ISO to CD or USB with a burning tool. Please read: how to burn ISO file to CD/USB.

Also, you can complete this task with the Windows 7 integrates built-in burning utility by right-clicking this ISO file > Open With > Windows Disc Image Burner.

✍ Note: If you don't want to create a bootable disc, you could enable the AOMEI Backupper recovery environment in the Windows boot options menu, and then boot from the recovery environment to backup and restore data.


1. Can an ISO file be bootable?

Yes, an ISO file can be made bootable. It contains all the necessary files for installing an operating system or software. To create bootable CDs or DVDs from an ISO file, you can use tools like AOMEI Backupper.

2. Is a disc image file the same as an ISO?

While ISO files are commonly used for disc images, some may have different extensions like .img. These files may have similar contents but might differ slightly in their structure or origin, such as those obtained from Microsoft DreamSpark.

3. What makes a disc bootable?

A bootable disc, whether a CD or USB drive, is formatted with a special partition called MBR (Master Boot Record). This MBR serves as the boot sector, initiating the boot process when the computer starts up. It's essential for loading and running the necessary software, even if the partition style is GPT (GUID Partition Table).

Delia · Editor
Delia owns extensive experience in writing technology-related blog posts, and has been a part of AOMEI since 2020 to provide expertise in data security and disaster recovery. She works with Windows operating systems, SQL databases, and virtualization platforms such as VMware and Hyper-V, specializing in troubleshooting and advising on data protection and migration.