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Rufus Makes Short Work of ISO-based Updates

In the past few weeks, I’ve been involved in some BIOS updates and also with upgrading the firmware on a number of SSDs from makers including Samsung, Intel, OCZ, and Plextor. On a couple of occasions, the installation routine has called for converting an ISO to a bootable image so the computer can work its magic outside of the Windows OS environment, usually in the embrace of an alternate Linux-derived OS that runs the installer and firmware update process independently. This is often handled by burning a bootable CD or DVD to perform the necessary tasks, but that comes with some time disadvantages — namely, it take a while to burn optical media for use, and optical drives generally run at the bottom of the secondary storage performance hierarchy (slower than everything else:  hard disks, SSDs, and USB flash drives).

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Here’s Rufus with the Windows8.1-iso file as its install target, but any iso will do.

That’s why I turned to the latest version of Pete Batard’s excellent tool Rufus (The Reliable USB Formatting Utility), currently out in version 14.5.9 (Build 506) as I write this blog post. It works with any .iso file to build a bootable UFD to deliver the contents of that image to the target system at boot-time, simply by targeting the host UFD as the focus for the next boot-up. I used it to build bootable UFDs to update the BIOS on one of my Lenovo laptops (the X220 Tablet, model 4294-CTO). I also used it to update the firmware on the Samsung 840 SSD on my wife’s primary desktop machine. In both cases, it took less than 5 minutes to prepare the bootable UFD, and a similar amount of time to boot the machine to the UFD, and then let the corresponding utilities do their thing.

Rufus excels at building OS install UFDs so I was pretty familiar with the program already. This added capability makes it incredibly handy in those occasional situations where vendors don’t provide firmware or BIOS update utilities that run inside the normal host OS, but instead require a boot-up into an environment that they control completely (the Paragon disk migration and re-org tools do this as well, but they’ve created their own standalone environment that handles the process for you transparently, from start to finish). Good stuff!

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