How to Make a SD Card Bootable

by Jacob Stover ; Updated September 28, 2017

Items you will need

  • Windows XP installation disc or disc image

  • Active Internet connection

  • SD card (minimum size 1 gigabyte)

  • SD-to-USB adapter

Creating a bootable SD card is one way to safeguard against potential catastrophic system failure. Once a computer is unable to boot, most users will simply give up on it, and determine it to be too far damaged for them to repair. In actuality, with a bootable SD card, or USB flash drive, you can restore your system to working order, or begin a fresh install of a new operating system to return your ailing computer to working order. Creating a bootable SD card takes a bit of work, and may require multiple attempts, but it is a valuable skill to learn.

Navigate to the download links located in the Resources section, and download the files to your local hard drive. Download all three files: "USB Prep8," "Bootsect" and "PEToUSB."

Extract the contents of the "bootsect" archive to a new directory, do the same for the other two archives. Once you have extracted all three archives, navigate to the "PEToUSB" directory, and drag the PEToUSB executable to the USB Prep8 directory.

Double-click "USB_PREP8.CMD" in the USB Prep8 directory to open a new command line. Read over the instruction text and press any key to continue. You should be taken automatically to the PEtoUSB window.

Insert the SD card into the adapter and insert the adapter into a USB slot on your PC. Press "Start" at the bottom of the "PEToUSB" window to begin formatting your card to be properly bootable.

Click on the Start menu and open the "Search" bar. Enter the text "cmd" and press "Enter." This will open a new command line. Type "CD directoryname" where directoryname refers to the folder to which you extracted "bootsect."

Type "bootsect.exe /nt52 X:" where "X" is the letter associated with your SD card. Press "Enter" to begin adding code to the SD card. When the process has completed the command window will notify you that "bootcode was successfully updated on all targeted volumes."

Open the original command window from the USBPrep_8 directory. If the command line does not appear to be available, close the PEToUSB executable window to re-open it.

Press "1" and press "Enter" to browse for the location of your Windows installation files. Select either the .ISO image of your windows installation CD, or select the CD drive containing the physical installation disc. Press "3" followed by "Enter" to select the SD card drive letter associated with your SD card. Press "4" followed by "Enter" to start copying installation files to the SD card.

Select "Yes" for all dialog options that appear; this will ensure that all necessary files are moved to the proper location. When the command window closes, the process is complete. You can safely eject your SD card. You may now use this card as a bootable SD card.

About the Author

Jacob Stover is a writer and editor from Ann Arbor. He has been writing professionally since 2009. His work has been published in the "Wayne State University Literary Review." He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and film studies from Wayne State University.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera computer image by Angie Lingnau from Fotolia.com