How to create a bootable USB drive for Spinrite

Spinrite is a really nice data recovery/drive maintenance software from GRC. But it was made before the time when booting from USB drives became popular, or even possible. The manual even begins with “CREATE A CLEAN BOOT DISKETTE”, which should tell you just how old it is. That doesn’t mean it still isn’t useful but it would be really nice not to have to boot from a diskette or a CD/DVD.

To create a bootable USB drive you need to do the following:

  1. Download the HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool, we are going to use this tool to create the bootable USB drive.
  2. Download Windows 98 boot files. This will actually make Spinrite work more consistently than it does with the included FreeDOS since this is “real MS-DOS”.
  3. Insert your USB drive and start the HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool. The tool needs to be run with administrator privileges.
  4. Choose the following settings:
    1. Device: Your USB drive.
    2. Create a DOS startup disk: Check
    3. Using DOS system files located at: Browse to the location where you saved the Windows 98 boot files.
    4. The rest of the settings you can leave at their default.
    5. Then click Start.
    6. If you get the below error like I did then you probably have a drive that uses GPT instead of MBR.
    7. You can solve that by opening a command prompt. You can start a command prompt by hitting the Windows key -> type cmd -> hit enter.
    8. Enter the command diskpart.
    9. Run list disk and find the number for the USB drive, 7 in my case.
    10. Run select disk 7, switch the 7 to whatever number corresponds to your USB drive.
    11. Run the command clean.
    12. Run the command convert mbr.
    13. Your USB drive should now work with the HP tool so go back to step 4 and try again.
    14. Open up the USB drive in Windows File Explorer and copy the SpinRite.exe file into the root. The drive will probably look empty in File Explorer but don’t worry, it’s normal.
    15. Now eject your USB drive and plug it into the computer where you want to run Spinrite.
    16. You might need to change some of your BIOS/EUFI settings in order to boot from the USB drive. How you do that will vary from motherboard to motherboard so I won’t go into how you do that. Instead you should consult the manual for your motherboard.
    17. When you have booted from the USB drive you should see a MS-DOS prompt. Type spinrite and then press enter to start Spinrite.

3 Replies to “How to create a bootable USB drive for Spinrite”

    1. Works fine for me, are you running it as an administrator (right click -> run as administrator)? Which version of Windows 10 are you using?

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