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I need to use SpinRite on my notebook which has no CD-ROM.

How can I install and run SpinRite from a USB thumbdrive? Such that I could boot the notebook up with a thumbdrive and start SpinRite.

Are all USB thumbdrives capable of booting? I don't even know how to make them boot.

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Possible duplicate:… – Christoffer Madsen Jun 18 '10 at 10:12
Not a duplicate - that question is about checking hard disk drives in USB devices (after starting SpinRite in any way that works), not about starting SpinRite itself. – Peter Mortensen Mar 30 '12 at 16:57
up vote 18 down vote accepted

I tried the following.

  1. Download and install "HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool - v2.1.8" from
    Click on Blue "Primary Download site" -- not Green "Downloads" advertisements
    or from

  2. Download "Windows 98/DOS boot files" from
    Click on Blue "Primary Download site" -- not Green "Downloads" advertisements
    or from

  3. Unzip Win98 files into a temporary folder such as Win98boot

  4. For pre-Vista Run "HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool". For Vista and beyond, right click it and "run as administrator"

  5. Use it to format the USB drive and enable the option to make it bootable with files from Win98boot

  6. Copy spinrite.exe to the formatted USB drive

  7. On the target notebook, edit boot sequence so that boot from USB is ahead of HDD

  8. Boot the notebook with it and at DOS prompt, run spinrite.exe

You can now run SpinRite on a CD-ROM-less machine.

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This is also described on the SpinRite FAQ page (in section "How do I make a bootable USB thumb drive??"). – Peter Mortensen Mar 30 '12 at 17:04
I will add to make sure to choose FAT32 when you're formatting the USB drive – TrojanName Sep 23 '14 at 18:43

Also, You can run the spinrite installer and choose to install onto a drive. and "Hold down the letter of the drive on the keyboard and press install" then it boots right into spinrite (Just tested)

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+1 simplest method. My system also seemed to need the partition on the USB drive set to 'active', which I achieved by using windows 7 fdisk. – alx9r Feb 8 '13 at 19:42

SpinRite 6.0 lets you install make any writable drive bootable using an option on its main menu, as noted above by Travis. You may have to hunt around a bit in your BIOS Setup menu to find the option for elevating you drive, such as a USB flash drive, to the first position.

You can make an inexpensive, quiet "SpinRite machine" by buying a Zotac mini-PC without a hard drive and just booting from a USB flash drive or memory card. Plug in a hard drive dock (toaster) so you can easily prepare or refresh any of your 3.5 or 2.5 inch drives.

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Seems to be described here:

How do I make a bootable USB thumb drive?

Hewlett Packard (HP) makes an easy-to-use utility called “HP USB Disk Format Tool”, which includes a "Create a DOS Startup Disk" option. It's freely available from: (mirror) along with the Windows 98/DOS boot files.

Run the HP tool, pointing it at the directory where you unzipped the DOS boot files, and it will automatically build a bootable DOS USB drive using those files. Next, copy your original SPINRITE.EXE file onto the root directory of your USB drive. Once done, reboot the system with your BIOS configured to boot from USB drives. At the DOS prompt, type spinrite to start SpinRite.

Note that this also has the advantage of using real Microsoft MS-DOS files rather than the “FreeDOS” files which accompany SpinRite. The real, original MS-DOS may operate more consistently on less compatible systems.

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For *nix users, it is possible to boot Spinrite by just writing the floppy disk image of Spinrite to a usb drive.

dd if=spinrite.img conv=notrunc of=/dev/sdx


cat floppy.img > /dev/sdx

Where sdx is your usb drive. Root privileges required.

If you're feeling fancy, you can also integrate Spinrite onto a syslinux or extlinux usb drive with a boot menu. For example, here's a minimal working syslinux.conf that also includes memtest on a single usb drive:

default vesamenu.c32
label spinrite
  menu label Run SpinRite 6
  kernel memdisk
  initrd floppy.img

label memtest
  menu label Run MemTest86+
  linux memtest

See the syslinux documentation for more details about creating boot menus.

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I've heard that SpinRite can be ran as virtual machine. This won't require a physical CD drive as SpinRite is loaded onto the VM from an ISO file.

How to Run SpinRite in Virtualbox

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I've had success doing this too. Main issue I've had is it's incredibly slow, regardless of hypervisor. In most cases, it's still faster to boot DOS with SpinRite directly (or remove the drive and attach to another machine if you can't run SpinRite on the original machine). – Ruben Schade Apr 27 '15 at 2:12

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