Rufus is a simple utility which makes it easy to build bootable USB drives from ISO images.

Of course if you have an ISO image then you could simply burn this to a CD or DVD. This won't help you much if your target system doesn't have an optical drive, though. USB keys are also easier to carry around, less likely to be damaged, and faster, which may be important if you need to use the disc often.

Rufus doesn't require any installation, and is generally very straightforward to set up. It'll automatically detect your USB drive, for instance, so you may not have to select that. Getting started could be as simple as browsing to your ISO image and clicking the "Start" button: the program will then walk you through everything else it needs to know.

If you need more control, though, you're able to configure how the USB drive will be formatted (file system, cluster size and so on). There's now support for both UEFI and GPT boots. And the program even includes some advanced format options which may help your drive be recognised on older PCs, although normally these shouldn't be necessary.

And if this is a task you need to carry out often, then you'll be pleased to hear that Rufus is reasonably speedy. We created a bootable USB version of the Windows 8 Professional image, for instance, and found the program was around 25% faster than another popular boot drive creator, UNetbootin.

Version 2.10 (changelog):

- Add SHA-256 validation for downloaded files. You will now see an ? or ? in the log for relevant content
- Add support for O2Micro PCI-E card readers
- Add compressed NTFS support for UEFI:NTFS
- Improve automatic closure of the Windows default format prompt
- Improve support for Ubuntu (silence a benign warning), Springdale (use the actual label) and Antergos
- Work around a Windows bug that can render a GPT disk inaccessible after cleanup (e.g. ChromeOS image)
- Fix hash computation for content that isn't a multiple of 64 bytes (NB: This did not affect ISOs)
- Fix Syslinux installation on some media, with huge thanks to 424778940z for the tests
- Fix a corner case where settings could be altered after Start had been pressed, if a hotplug event also occurred
- Additional fixes and improvements

Verdict

Rufus is an easy-to-use and configurable tool which quickly creates bootable USB drives from ISO images.