Question What is the best choice for bootable USB drive (MBR/GPT - NTFS/FAT32) ?

Feb 12, 2021
10
0
10
0
Hello

I'm creating some new "rescue" bootable flash drives (with Linux, Acronis,...) via Rufus and I'm trying to make the flash drives compatible with as many systems as possible.
In most cases I will use them for Windows systems but I know some (very) old systems or OS'es (before Vista) do not support GPT yet (only MBR).

Is my best option in Rufus to use MBR with compatibility for UEFI & CSM and does it make any difference if I use NTFS or FAT32?
For the file system I was thinking FAT32 because I believe it's more compatible with non-Windows systems in case I need it.

However I'm not sure if that's the best option, I currently have an older USB 2.0 flash drive laying around with MBR and FAT32 as the active partition but I can't boot from it.
The laptop has UEFI BIOS with CSM enabled and Legacy USB support active, secure boot is disabled.
My guess is that UEFI with CSM enabled only works with MBR flash drives if the file system is NTFS but I'm not sure if that's the reason why I can't boot from it.

Thanks for any tips or help.
 

Lutfij

Titan
Moderator
The question on NTFS or FAT32 really depends on that platform you're going to connect the drive to. I recall back in the day how I had to learn DOS to a small degree to understand how to install Windows XP while only having the installer on one of my HDD's partition(in a folder).

Now, you just need a disc or an installer. If it's Vista and later, I'd say NTFS. If prior then FAT32.

Also, you sure you want to be making bootable installers for legacy OSes? Older platforms might not even recognize current gen pen drives.
 
Reactions: Phillip Corcoran
Feb 12, 2021
10
0
10
0
Now, you just need a disc or an installer. If it's Vista and later, I'd say NTFS. If prior then FAT32.
Yes I agree 100%, for Windows systems I also would pick NTFS first and FAT32 only for older systems.
Most of my flash drives are for installation of different versions of W10 + some extra flash drives with tools for backups (acronis), recovery of passwords, cloning (macrium reflect) ,...
I did not ran into any problems with my W10 flash drives, but sometimes with my other ones.


I did some tests with the usb 2.0 flash drive (MBR / FAT32 ) I had some problems booting from, this one is a password recovery tool.
I was able to boot from it with my desktop PC (uefi Asrock gaming motherboard from 2018/19) but not on my Bmax y13 laptop.
Unfortunately I can't test it anymore on the laptop, I changed some BIOS settings (under "CSM") and my screen stays black now.
The laptop is turning on (keyboard lights up) but the screen stays black and pressing the BIOS key doesn't work, or maybe it works but I can't see what I'm doing.
I tried connecting an external monitor but it doesn't help the screen stays black.

I wanted tot take some screenshots of the BIOS and post hem here but I guess I'll have to fix that black screen problem first.
 
Feb 12, 2021
10
0
10
0
Hi
The "black screen" problem is solved after a hard reset of the BIOS (had to remove the battery and do a power drain).
What caused the black screen was changing the "video" setting to legacy instead of the default uefi (this setting is found under "Advanced", "CSM support").
I don't know why but before the hard reset of the BIOS the screen was always black (even when booting into the BIOS) except for when I booted into Linux with a portable usb drive.
In linux my screen/video was working, even the touch worked.

So now the black screen issue is solved, I was able to test my older flash drive (MBR/FAT32) I had problems with booting from.
I tried converting the filesystem to NTFS and also converting the MBR to GPT but nothing seemed to work until I noticed something.
I already turned on all the legacy and CSM settings to make it possible to boot in legacy mode and I was able to boot from multiple flash drives but all my flash drives always show up as UEFI except for the internal HDD.
So basically the Legacy mode never worked except for my internal M2 drive but I don't need this option for the internal drive.
I only have 2 usb c ports on the laptop, is it possible that Legacy mode is not supported for the USB-C ports (and only for pcie/sata)?
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY