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.


7 Answers 7


I tried the following.

  1. Download and install "HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool - v2.1.8" from http://files.extremeoverclocking.com/file.php?f=197
    Click on Blue "Primary Download site" -- not Green "Downloads" advertisements
    or from http://www.19systems.net/HP-USB-Tool-v2.1.8.exe

  2. Download "Windows 98/DOS boot files" from http://files.extremeoverclocking.com/file.php?f=196
    Click on Blue "Primary Download site" -- not Green "Downloads" advertisements
    or from http://www.19systems.net/Win98-Boot-Files.zip

  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.

  • 4
    This is also described on the SpinRite FAQ page (in section "How do I make a bootable USB thumb drive??"). Commented Mar 30, 2012 at 17:04
  • 2
    I will add to make sure to choose FAT32 when you're formatting the USB drive
    – TrojanName
    Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 18:43
  • 2
    I couldn't get this to work on Win 10, it kept calling the USB stick "write protected" - instead I used Rufus as per Andrew below
    – furicle
    Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 20:32

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)

  • 2
    +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
    Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 19:42
  • 1
    This worked, but only after I marked the partition as active. I used the diskpart approach to do so, on a Windows 7 machine.
    – Marcel
    Commented Feb 12, 2017 at 21:11
  • 2
    This method is not 100%. It did not work on my HP Elitebook; a laptop known for its boot sensitivity. I have not analyzed what is wrong with the spinrite installer method but I can confirm that the solution by Andrew (superuser.com/a/1252642/247361) worked for me. Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 1:36
  • 1
    all this seems to do for me is copy an exe file to the drive...
    – Hicsy
    Commented Dec 11, 2020 at 11:34

I could not get SpinRite 6.0 to boot from my USB drive by using its built-in installer. I tried the accepted answer but it didn't work because HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool reported "Device media is write-protected" (but for some reason it was writable by everything else).

Here's what worked for me:

  1. Download Rufus, a tool for making bootable USB drives. At the time of this writing its version is 2.17.1198.

  2. Run Rufus with the following settings:

    • screenshot
    • MBR partition scheme for BIOS or UEFI
    • FAT32
    • 16 kilobytes
    • SpinRite 6.0
    • [Unchecked] Check devices for bad blocks
    • [Checked] Quick format
    • [Checked] Create a bootable disk using FreeDOS
    • [Checked] Create extended label and icon files
  3. Run the SpinRite 6.0 installer and create an .iso file.

  4. Mount the .iso file and copy SPINRITE.EXE to the USB drive.

  5. 🤞 Boot the drive. 🤞

  6. DOS should start. Run spinrite.exe.

  • 1
    Thanks Andrew. This solved it for me. I ran Rufus from virtualbox and it did the trick for me. I did not try the HP tool but I had great experiences with Rufus in the past :) Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 1:37
  • 2
    You actually don't need to bother with Step 3. The SPINRITE.EXE installer is identical (by SHA-1) to the SPINRITE.EXE in the ISO. You can just copy SPINRITE.EXE straight to the USB.
    – Bridgey
    Commented Feb 22, 2019 at 8:21
  • 1
    I was not able to create a working disk with Rufus using the generated .ISO, but it worked with a .IMG
    – David
    Commented May 5, 2020 at 23:50
  • 1
    Best answer here, got the expected results without issue. Commented Nov 17, 2020 at 5:28

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.


Seems to be described here: https://www.grc.com/sr/faq.htm

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: http://files.extremeoverclocking.com/file.php?f=197 (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.


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.


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

  • 2
    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). Commented Apr 27, 2015 at 2:12

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