WinToFlash is an easy-to-use tool which will quickly create a bootable USB flash drive version of your Windows CD or DVD (Windows XP, 2003, Vista, 7 and 8 are supported).

This could be very useful if, say, you need to install (or reinstall) Windows on a netbook, or any other system which doesn't have a working optical drive. Or if you manage a network and are always reinstalling Windows, for instance, doing so from a USB flash drive rather than a DVD could significantly speed up the installation process.

And despite the really rather complex mechanics that underpin a program like this, WinToFlash remains surprisingly straightforward. Essentially you just have to point the program at your installation DVD, and the flash drive you'd like to use, and that's about it: WinToFlash handles everything else for you.

You still have to be careful here. Your target USB flash drive will be formatted during the setup process, for instance, so any files it contains will be lost. WinToFlash will warn you about this, but plainly it's still important to make sure you select the correct drive.

And note also that this version is free for non-commercial use only, and includes ads. These are fairly unobtrusive, but if you like you can purchase a personal licence to remove them (current cost is $5.77); a Professional licence ($29.95) adds more functionality, and commercial use requires the purchase of a Business licence ($100). See the WinToFlash site for more.

Verdict

WinToFlash provides a convenient way to speed up your Windows installations.