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I often need to format a partition disks on my windows based machines. At the moment I do this by using a Win 7 install CD and going as far as the custom install page. Is there an easier way to get to some sort of partitioning tool, the CD takes a long time to boot and not all of our PCs have optical drives. Maybe some way of bootinh from USB key?

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Parted Magic will do what you want, http://partedmagic.com/doku.php?id=start

It is a Live CD which can be put on to a USB Stick using Unetbootin, http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/

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I would use uNetBootin to make a live USB of Ubuntu and use the utilities therein to format the disk. You could also try Darik's Boot and Nuke (DBAN) but I don't know if this would do partitions only.

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Most commercial partition tools come with a boot disk, or the ability to create one.

Partition Manager

Partition Commander

Disk Director

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USB bootable Linux with cfdisk works just fine, if you don't have to move/downsize/upsize already used partitions. For these trickier tasks, take Partition Magic.

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