It can sometimes be very handy to have an USB drive filled with self-booting troubleshooting tools in reach. Creation used to be difficulty, especially if you wanted to add more than one tool to a drive. This changes with the release of the multiboot USB creator YUMI. The free portable software for Windows offers the tools to add multiple Linux distributions and utilities to an USB device. Even better, the program adds a boot menu to the device so that users are always able to select what they want to run next on their computer.
When you first download and run YUMI, you will have to pick an USB drive letter from the list of available devices. All other options are grayed out or not visible at all until this is done. It is possible to display a list of all devices by enabling Show All Drives. This can be handy if the USB device is not detected automatically by the software. Caution is advised as selection of the wrong drive letter can result in data loss on the drive.
Once you have selected the USB device you want to store the tools on, you can start selecting individual tools from the now populated list. Linux distributions are displayed at the top, followed by a tools selection. When it comes to Linux, you find popular distributions (and editions) like Fedora, Open Suse, Linux Mint or Ubuntu listed as 32-bit and 64-bit editions.
The troubleshooting tools are divided into Antivirus Tools, System Tools and Other Tools. Included here are among others the AVG, Kaspersky and Avira Antivir Rescue CDs, the backup and partition cloning software Clonezilla, the hard drive data eraser DBAN, Memtest86+ for memory testing or the partitioning tool Parted Magic.
It is furthermore possible to add custom ISO images from the local PC. That's handy if a required distribution or tool is not included in the program's listing.
To add a tool or distribution you select it first. You then get the option to download the ISO from the developer site or select it from a local storage device. The download option will open a direct download link in the default web browser. It is then still necessary to select the ISO manually to add it to the USB device.
It may make sense on first run to enable the format drive option to erase previous contents on the drive.
A click on Create will prepare the disk and copy the selected ISO image on it.
Please note that you can only add one distribution or tool to the USB device at a time. You need to repeat the process for every other tool or Linux distribution that you want to add as well. The second issue that I have is that you cannot see if you have enough disk space left on your device. The size of the ISO images is not displayed and neither is the free space on the USB device.
You then need to boot your computer from the USB device to run the tools before the operating system loads.
YUMI makes the creation of a multiboot tool collection relatively easy. The developers need to work on the issues described above. Windows users can download YUMI Multiboot USB Creator from the developer site. The software is compatible with 32-bit and 64-bit editions of the Windows operating system.
An alternative is Sardu which provides a similar functionality but without the restrictions.