I like to try out different Linux distro's and I don't like partitioning my main drive. I have plenty of actual hard drives that I can use for that (I like one OS per drive). Anyway, I'm trying to burn an ISO to my external harddrive (Seagate) but I can't because Windows 7 USB Tool and UNetBootin never detect external hard drives OR external hard drive enclosures either.

Why doesn't it detect them? It only shows my main hard drive and my USB stick. And is there a better alternative that will detect my external hard drive and recognize it as something that it can burn ISO files to?

  • These tools are meant for USB thumb drives. – Daniel B Nov 10 '15 at 20:33
  • One cannot burn an ISO to an external disk, only to USB keys. You will need to install Linux to such a disk. – harrymc Nov 11 '15 at 10:50
  • That’s not true, @harrymc. Most Live Images are bootable from just about any medium. Of course, you’d just use FAT32 instead of ISO/UDF on a hard disk (and typically on thumb drives, too). – Daniel B Nov 11 '15 at 13:59
  • @DanielB: Maybe you can manually by copying the files, but the tools I have used only list USB sticks, which is exactly the problem here. – harrymc Nov 11 '15 at 15:20

I am probably too late. But for anyone else facing this problem. You can start Unetbootin from the command prompt with these options passed:

unetbootin installtype=USB targetdrive=F:\

Source: UNetbootin Command Line Options

  • 1
    Just tried this, and I can confirm that this works. Thanks! – WIMP_no May 3 '19 at 20:19

Unetbootin used to support this, but it has since been removed. This means there is NO way to do this using Unetbootin. However, if all you want to do is test Linux systems without needing to work with partitions, I would recommend looking at a Virtualization system. Something like Virtual Box will allow you to not only test, but install full Linux systems within your Windows system. Other then that your best bet is using Linux distros with Live USB systems, and installing the full systems using the Live USB install.


I have found a system that will work for what you want to do, well, in theory anyway. I don't have an extra hard drive laying around to test it with... But this method should allow you to boot multiple ISOs from your external hard drive.

You will need to use YUMI (Your Universal Multiboot Integrator) to perform this task. This tool is put together by the friendly creator of PendriveLinux.com I have used it before, and to get what you need from it simply: plug in your external hard drive, start the program, select the "Show All Devices" tick box, select your drive, Tell it the distro you are using, navigate to it, and click create.

As stated earlier when this process completes you will be asked if you want to add another iso/distro. Whenever you want to add another after this initial run, all you have to do is start the program and follow the above instructions. And if you ever need to delete an installed system, simply click the "View or remove installed distros".

As per the comments, it looks like Lili USB creator also works. However I have never tried it. So I cannot walk you through the steps.

Hope this helps!

  • The need is not to test linux systems, is to be able to install a SO from a usb external hard drive without having to do it manually. – Nanoc Nov 12 '15 at 9:39
  • @Nanoc if that is the case, then the only way I can think of doing it is with grub or another bootloader... I will do some research into it and get back with an edit to my current answer. – Gamerb Nov 12 '15 at 11:19
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    Also Lili usb creator works well, add it to the answer, perfect answer should tell if is there a way to fake the Windows USB Tool to make it install on external hard drives. – Nanoc Nov 16 '15 at 8:49

The problem is that you can't actually download the iso file for Ubuntu all by itself. You'll need to download an iso file to flash to a USB first. That would turn the USB into an installation medium, not an OS. So even if you flashed to hard drive successfully, you will only get an installation medium.

This is how to install Linux images correctly

  1. You can use Unetbootin to flash the image to a USB, and then restart your computer to boot from the USB
  2. Click on the install shortcut on the desktop
  3. Go through the installation process
  4. After the 'type of installation' stage, choose your hard drive once you have plugged it in (probably sdb or sdc)
  5. Install
  6. Now you can boot from you hard drive into Linux
  • This only works if your computer has at least two available USB ports. – Vu Thoung Jan 20 '19 at 0:19
  • ISOs are typically pretty small relative to hard drive capacity. What about creating a small partition and using it for the installation media, then installing on the rest of the same drive? – fixer1234 Jan 20 '19 at 0:31

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