death by flash drive

I bought a new hard-drive a while back and to my surprise it was pre-loaded with photos! Somebody forgot to wipe their disk clean with an erase utility.

Of course you can't be using the main system disk while erasing the main system disk. A few years back this problem was easily solved with a bootable floppy, and when those disappeared we used bootable CD or DVD. To my surprise I now have machines with no CD, no DVD, and of course no floppy. It's a netbook.

I had decided to create a bootable USB key for the purpose of erasing and re-formatting my old main disk. After several dead-ends, the good news is that it finaly worked! But it was enough of a hassle that I thought I better write down what I did before I forget.

First I created a blank Virtual Floppy Drive (VFD) as A: using a tool I downloaded, vfdwin.exe. First I had to "Start the Driver", then I could "Create a Drive0" and assign a drive letter. It is important to leave all this going for the rest of the steps.

Then I used Windows XP, Explorer to format my virtual A:, and checked "Create an MS-DOS Startup Disk". I'll need these files for the next step.

Finaly I downloaded and used the "HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool v2.1.8" to format my Sony USB key, checked the "Create a DOS startup disk" and "using DOS system files located at: A:\".

Whew. I'm not sure why Windows doesn't let me do all this more directly. Sure, in XP's heyday floppys were common, but for Windows 7 I hope the USB flash drive is more um, key.

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