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Windows 7: How do I make a multiboot USB drive with multiple partitions(Diskpart)

01 Apr 2013   #1

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
How do I make a multiboot USB drive with multiple partitions(Diskpart)

Hi guys,

I would like to collect my 32-bit and 64-bit Windows 7 Ultimate DVDs, all my device drivers and documents etc. plus a bootable toolbox for my SSDs(an ISO file) in a 64 GB USB stick.

The thing is, I do not want to do this with a multi-boot software. I want to manually create partitions with Diskpart in Windows and be able to decide on the file systems for those partitions. I know that there is not going to be an option menu for booting without a software, but again I believe this won't be strongly necessary. So actually I wonder whether the whole thing is doable or not. I'm sorry I could have just tried it out but I wanted to hear from you before investing on the USB stick(SANDISK Extreme USB 3.0 64 GB).

Here is what I have come up with after reading several threads:

-Clean the disk for just in case.
-Create four partitions. Three of them will be sized according to Win 7 Ultimate 32-bit, Win 7 Ultimate 64-bit and the SSD toolbox. Fourth will be sized with what's left on the disk. (In fact for future I will size the Windows partitions considering Win 8 also)
-Select and format the partitions one by one.
-Copy Win 7 DVDs to two of the partitions according to option two of USB Windows 7 Installation Key Drive - Create tutorial.
-Mount the SSD toolbox ISO to a virtual drive(I use PowerISO) and copy the contents to the third partition in the USB drive. (Here is the link for the toolbox page that includes the ISO and describes its own way)

Although I have some idea, I haven't really had any practice with Diskpart so these may sound silly.

1) Am I going to be able to see all those four partitions at once as storage drives in My Computer after partitioning the USB drive? Or only one partition is going to be visible? Does it have something to do with the 'active partition'? I don't have to see all four at once but need to chose and see the desired one for copying the DVDs, the SSD toolbox to it, and when I'm finished with the bootable stuff i can chose the fourth partition and use the USB drive as a regular storage drive for documents etc.

2) Related to the first question, again is it possible to boot from Win 32-bit/64-bit setups or SSD toolbox by setting the respective partition as active beforehand(in Windows). I mean can the 'active' command be used for this purpose?

3) What file system should I prefer for those partitions? I just know that no more than 4 GB files are recognized with FAT32, so I should not prefer that for my fourth partition in which I'll have drivers and also some large video files. In the ssd toolbox page the USB drive is formatted with FAT32, so do I have to stick with this file system? This might be too common but can you inform me about the pros and cons of NTFS, FAT32 and even exFAT for my situation? (I think exFAT is not for Windows setups but could be considered for other partitions however I'm not sure)

4) They recommend using Universal USB Installer for placing the SSD toolbox ISO to the drive. Does that mean it's not as simple as just mounting and copying the contents of the ISO to the partition, and I have to use that software? (I know it sounds silly but I have to make sure )

5) Will the 64 GB capacity of the USB drive lead to any issues considering booting procedure etc. because some people speak of a maximum size, or does just the partition size matter? (Partition sizes will be set according to Win 7 DVDs as I mentioned earlier)

6) In the BIOS, among several USB devices such as USB-FDD, USB-HDD, USB-ZIP etc. which one should I select while booting from the USB drive(SANDISK Extreme USB 3.0 64 GB)?

7) Am I at least making sense?

Thank you for your time..

My System SpecsSystem Spec

01 Apr 2013   #2
Microsoft MVP


I have run into problems when trying to use a boot manager which is required to boot from a choice of partitions on a flash stick. For this reason what has worked for me to carry simultaneously the 32- and 64-bit versions of Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 installers is to format and then write one of their unlocked (with eicfg removal tool) ISO's to stick using UltraISO Software To Create Bootable USB Flash Drive.

You then have the seven extracted installer files for the OS in your stick root. Sweep them into a folder you create labeled with the correct OS and bit version. Now extract the other ISO's for the other OS bit-versions into similar folders in the stick, along with all of your tools needed. I have Works, several versions of Office, several configs of Ninite which manages the latest version of all the tools like MSE, Flash, Java, Firefox, etc. that might be desired, to install them all at once.

When ready to install OS you only need to spill the correct OS version from its folder into the root and it will boot since Ultra has written nt /60 bootsect to the stick. This is the only manual part of using this method and is cake compared to having to manage partitions from the stick.

If you leave Vista at home you can do this with a 16gb stick which are under $20 now online for best quality like Kingston.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Apr 2013   #3

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

Thank you for your reply gregrocker.

You say that you have run into problems when trying to use a boot manager which is required to boot from a choice of partitions. Does that mean setting one from multiple partitions as active in a USB drive with Diskpart cannot make that partition bootable?

Because if possible, although there are many programs for creating bootable USB flash drive, I would like to manage these manually without using a manager. And also spilling(you mean copying I guess) the desired OS to root would take longer and sounds less practical than just setting a partition as active. Sorry if you think that I'm still assuming that my plan is doable while in fact it isn't and insisting on it, however I just couldn't get a 'no, multiple partitions and Diskpart commands won't help' from you.

I understand that a 'nt /60 bootsect' must be placed to the drive(partition ?) to make it bootable. So, can't it be placed in more than one partition? Don't the Win 7 DVDs have that which will also be copied to the partitions while applying option two of USB Windows 7 Installation Key Drive - Create tutorial.

As for the USB stick itself, I'm really considering purchasing that SANDISK Extreme USB 3.0 64 GB, as it stands out with its performance and I will be needing the extra space(also the more space the faster the drive is due to parallelization). It's not cheap though.

I also would like to hear about the other points in the original post from you.

Thanks again..
My System SpecsSystem Spec

01 Apr 2013   #4
Microsoft MVP


Moving the extracted installer folders into the root to/from a storage folder takes about 5 seconds. Just drag the group to the flash stick name in the explorer bar .

This is the Manual method. If there was any easier I would have already used it instead of sticking with this method for four years. I sometimes install 2-3 times in a day using only the stick I carry in a ziploc in my pocket.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 How do I make a multiboot USB drive with multiple partitions(Diskpart)

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