How to Make a Live USB With BartPE

by David Wayne
Visage/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Bart’s Preinstalled Environment creates a live Windows desktop on a bootable medium, such as a CD or USB drive. BartPE’s developer, Bart Lagerweij, provides a program for extracting files from a Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 disc and installing them on a CD, although separate software is needed to install the files on a USB drive. Both programs are needed for creating a live USB drive -- PE Builder to extract the boot files and the companion software to install them on the drive. The companion program, called PeToUSB, is designed to use the boot files created by PE Builder.

Step 1

Visit the Nu2 site to download the latest version of PE Builder. Install the program, then download the latest version of PeToUSB from the GoCoding site (links for both programs in Resources). The PeToUSB download is a ZIP file containing an executable application that doesn’t need to be installed before running it. Extract the zip file when the download completes.

Step 2

Open File Explorer and navigate to your root directory by clicking “Local Disk (C:).” Open the “pebuilder” directory, right-click “pebuilder” and choose “Run as Administrator.” Insert your Windows installation disc, click “Browse” in the Source Path section and choose your CD drive as the source directory. The other settings don’t need to be changed, so click “Build” to extract the boot files from the installation disc. The extraction takes about five minutes, and the PE Builder window displays a progress bar to tell you when the process is finished.

Step 3

Insert your USB drive, and when the drive icon appears in File Explorer, right-click “Removable Disk” and choose “Format.” Deselect the “Quick Format” option and click “Start.” The drive takes a few seconds to several minutes to format, depending on its size.

Navigate to your Downloads folder and open the PeToUSB directory. Double-click “PeToUSB,” and after the program launches, click “Browse” in the Source Path section. In the browser window, navigate to Local Disk (C:), open the pebuilder folder and select “BartPE.” Click “OK,” then begin the installation by clicking “Start.” Creating the live USB drive takes five to 15 minutes, depending on your computer’s speed.


  • You may not need to format your drive before creating the preinstalled environment. If the drive is new or has been used only to store files and documents, instead of formatting the drive, select “Enable Disk Format” in the PeToUSB window. If the drive has been used as a bootable installation disk, it may need to be formatted. If the drive isn’t detected by PeToUSB, it needs to be formatted.


Photo Credits

  • Visage/Stockbyte/Getty Images

About the Author

David Wayne has been writing since 2010, with technology columns appearing in several regional newspapers in Texas. Wayne graduated from the University of Houston in 2005, earning a Bachelor of Arts in communications.

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