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How can I identify which of my usb drives can be made bootable

I don't know if this is the best place to ask hardware-related questions. If not and you know of a better location, either in the StackExchange network or elsewhere, please tell me.

Using the exact same Linux image, the exact same application to transfer the image to the USB key (eg. UNetBootin, PenDrive Linux, etc.) and the exact same test laptop... I noticed that some USB keys will happily boot the laptop while others won't.

I need to know...

  1. Why this happens?
  2. Is there something I can check before buying a USB key, so I don't end up with keys that just won't boot an OS?

Thank you.

  • Not really, because the exact same motherboard can or cannot boot, so my question is to understand why that happens, and if it's possible to to tell before buying USB drives. – OverTheRainbow Nov 21 '11 at 12:26
  • Maybe you can find your answear on some of the related threads on this link: superuser.com/questions/223664/… – Diogo Nov 21 '11 at 12:50
  • This isn't an answer, but I have had 2 different adata drives that can't be mounted or read on non-windows boxes. I've never used those drives for bootable devices because it seemed like asking for trouble. I've never had a problem with any other brand, so it could be as simple as sticking with a brand you like. I've not found cost to be a factor, for example I often buy the store brand from a local retailer. – Dennis Nov 21 '11 at 12:51
  • I would like to know why some USB keys can be made bootable while others can't. The link above doesn't tell much, and the Wikipedia article doesn't deal with USB keys specifically. – OverTheRainbow Nov 21 '11 at 13:04
  • It's the same question. Please consider adding a bounty and explanation to the other question to garner better/different answers. I have seen USB keys that simply cannot be made to boot, but they were <32MB USB keys from years and years ago. – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Nov 21 '11 at 13:35

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