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36 - Boot to Hiren's Boot CD from a USB drive

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Hiren's Boot CD is a heavily modified and illegal version of Microsoft Windows XP and contains some software which is not copyright free or distribution-right free (considered Warez). However, it is very prevalent on the internet and the ISO file can be easily downloaded. If you have a licence to run Windows XP on your computer (e.g. if your computer has a Windows XP, Windows Vista Business or Ultimate or Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate Certificate Of Authenticity label on it) then you can legally run XP (but only on that computer - but not dual boot!). As for the Warez software, I leave that up to your own conscience but strictly speaking it would be illegal to use that software.

Hiren's Boot CD 13.2 now even includes RMPrepUSB v2.1.620, even though no permission was asked and the software is copyrighted and distribution is forbidden! However, in this case I will regard it as a form of flattery!

This tutorial describes how you can make any USB Flash memory drive (aka pen drive or thumb drive or UFD) or USB hard drive into a bootable drive that will boot and run Hiren's Boot CD.

An alternative tutorial for making a bootable USB drive using the Hiren's ISO file can be found here. You can use that tutorial if you want to make a multiboot USB drive (e.g. add more boot images onto the same USB drive by following other tutorials on this site) or use this tutorial if you want to boot on a system with less than 1GB of RAM. You can even combine both Hirens tutorials onto the same USB drive and see which one works best for you!

For more information on which utilities are contained on HBCD please visit the HBCD web site here.

Step 1 - download Hiren's Boot CD

  1. Download the ZIP file for HBCD v13.2 from here. Click on the download link for the ZIP file (located 3/4 of the way down the page)

  2. The file is currently called and is 400MB in size - check the file size is correct after you have downloaded it!
  3. Now extract the contents of the ZIP file using 7Zip or your favourite unzip program. You should now have a file called Hiren's.BootCD.13.2.iso.
  4. Mount the ISO file using the free software SlySoft Virtual CloneDrive from here or use any other ISO extraction/mounting tool you may already have (if you already have burnt a CD then you can use the CD instead of mounting the image)  - you should now see in Windows Explorer the contents of the ISO file...

    Right-click on the ISO file and select the Mount (Virtual CloneDrive) entry.

    Contents of the Virtual drive that you have mounted the ISO file onto (note the HBCD folder).

Step 2 - Format and prepare your USB drive

The next step will make a bootable USB drive and then copy the files from the HBCD to the USB drive. You will need a 512MB or larger USB Flash memory drive or USB Hard disk. Download and install RMPrepUSB from this website. Use RMPrepUSB to wipe it and make partition of  512MB or more using these RMPrepUSB settings 1-5 :

    1 - MAX
    2 - HIRENS (or any name you like)
    3 - XP
    4 - FAT16 + Boot as HDD  (or FAT32 + Boot as HDD if the drive is over 2GB)
    5 - tick the Copy OS Files box and select the drive letter of your mounted Virtual HBCD drive (do not tick the BartPE checkbox)
    6 - click Prepare Drive

Follow the prompts.

    Click on the RMPrepUSB - Install grub4dos button to install grub4dos, press the ENTER key when prompted and allow it to copy over the grldr file to the USB drive.

Step 4 - Copy the menu.lst file

Grub4dos needs to have a menu file. Copy the menu.lst file which is now located in the HBCD folder of the USB drive to the root of the USB (top level).
Your USB drive contents should now look like this and contain 6 files and one HBCD folder (actually the only files needed are the grldr and menu.lst file and the whole HBCD folder - you can delete the other 4 files if you wish):

-  End  -

To test it, you can press the F11 key whilst running RMPrepUSB - this will launch a QEMU emulation session (it will not harm your Windows system). You should see the grub4dos menu as shown below appear in a QEMU window. Test an HBCD menu option (e.g. Mini Windows Xp) to see if it boots correctly (Note: if it crashes QEMU the first time, try F11 again as it sometimes works a 2nd time for some strange reason!). Click inside the QEMU window to interact with Mini XP (it may be slow to react as the whole XP OS is emulated) and when you have finished press the two CTRL+ALT keys on the keyboard to exit the emulator. You can quit/close the emulator by clicking on the Windows X icon at the top right of the window. You may find that the mouse/keyboard does not work in QEMU if you try some other menu items (e.g. Mini Linux).

You should see this menu - select the Mini Windows Xp menu item and press ENTER

The HBCD XP Desktop (booted inside Windows 7 64-bit OS using the RMPrepUSB QEMU F11 function)

Now go try it for real on a real system. You may need to set your BIOS boot order so that it will boot from a USB drive before it's hard disk. Do not unplug the USB drive whilst XP is running or some functions may not work.

Using HBCD Mini XP

  • To set up networking, click on the Network Setup desktop icon. 
  • For wireless connectivity, first run Install all Hardware (HWPnP) and then run the Wireless Setup link. 
  • You can then run Opera by clicking on the blue Internet icon on the desktop. 
  • Click on the HBCD Menu icon to install and run more software from the WinTools folder, including RMPrepUSB!
  • Click on the EN icon in the system tray to change keyboard layout.

  • Updated on Sep 5, 2011 by Steve Si (Version 24)

    Attachments (8)

    hbcddesktop.jpg - on Apr 25, 2011 by Steve Si (Version 1)

    hbcdqemumenu.jpg - on Apr 25, 2011 by Steve Si (Version 1)

    hbcd132usbcnts.jpg - on Apr 25, 2011 by Steve Si (Version 1)

    hbcd132rmprep.jpg - on Apr 25, 2011 by Steve Si (Version 1)

    hbcd132isohbcdmenu.jpg - on Apr 25, 2011 by Steve Si (Version 1)

    hbcd132isocontents.jpg - on Apr 25, 2011 by Steve Si (Version 1)

    hbcd132mount.jpg - on Apr 25, 2011 by Steve Si (Version 1)

    hbcd132down.jpg - on Apr 25, 2011 by Steve Si (Version 1)