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Building Bootable UEFI Media

When it comes to a clean Windows 10 install, it’s important to pick the proper low-level disk layout for your target system. For most modern systems this means building bootable UEFI media with GPT partitioning. While I’ve worked with Microsoft’s Windows Media Creation Tool many times, I’ve found Rufus better-suited to this job. This goes double when installing on systems that use GPT disk partitioning, usually in concert with UEFI. GPT stands for GUID Partition Table, and uses globally unique identifiers for qualifying devices. GPT supports more partitions and logical devices per physical device than the older Master Boot Record, or MBR, partitioning scheme. UEFI stands for Unified Extensible Firmware Interface. UEFI serves as a modern alternative boot environment for x86 devices (PCs, tablets, notebooks, etc.) commonly used on most machines built in 2011 or later.

Proper settings in Rufus for a GPT-based UEFI install.

Choosing the Right Settings When Building Bootable UEFI Media with Rufus

In working with Rufus this morning, I stumbled on a gotcha. If you look at the preceding screenshot, it seems natural to work your way through the interface from top to bottom. However,  that’s not how Rufus actually works. When I selected my target ISO using the browse icon for “create a bootable disk…,” Rufus reset the partition scheme from GPT back to MBR. Thus, if  you don’t review the window before clicking the Start button at the bottom the UFD gets formatted for MBR!

I discovered this when I built what I thought was a GPT UFD, then checked results in Rufus. To my surprise, it used an MBR scheme. Only after fooling around with the program and building another UFD did I see what happened. As it turns out, you must make a partition scheme selection after targeting an ISO. That’s how to apply the right partitioning scheme/target system type. Live and learn!