Can't Boot my Inspiron from USB? Seriously??


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Can't Boot my Inspiron from USB? Seriously??

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I have installed the most current BIOS available from the Dell website for my Inspiron 7500, which upgraded it from A06 to A14. The only apparent effect was to spiff up the Dell graphic in silent boot mode... no new options/capability whatsoever in the BIOS itself.

The whole point of this endeavour was to get the capability to boot from a USB device, which does not even appear as an option in my previous or current BIOS. This seems pretty ridiculous, since the system clearly recognizes a bootable hard drive in an external USB enclosure, can read and write from/to it, and recognizes files on it as being system files, etc., as appropriate.

Is there a BIOS upgrade/replacement available for this system that will allow boot from USB? This would be a MAJOR breakthrough for me! Thanks for any/all advice.

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  • If the BIOS does not support boot from USB you can try using the Plop-Bootmanager.It works perfectly on my 7 year old Acer laptop.



    I used the following option to install Plop(because this option does not change the MBR)

    "3.Windows boot menu (NT, 2K, XP, VISTA and Win7)"


    It's worthwhile studying the manual and make sure that you backup your important files

  • Thanks for your reply MicroTest.

    I tried the Plop Bootmanager, with no success. When I select USB as the boot device, it says "No Boot Device Found, Please Re-Try It". Nevertheless with a normal internal hard drive boot the system sees/recognizes the external USB drive and all its contents.

    Note that the OS on the external USB drive is Windows 98SE, and on the internal hard drive is Windows XP. Is that the problem? What's the point of an alternate boot device if it can't run an alternate OS?

    Thanks again for your input and any additional comment

  • I don't think that it is possible to boot Windows 98 from a USBstick - I have never tried it but there might be some workaround on the internet.

    A good source of USB information is this site


    To test if the Plop bootmanager works on your machine in general visit

    Download "YUMI" and create a bootable disk with one of the many applications available.I would try "FREE DOS" or "DBAN" (Drive Nuker) as they are very small in size and quickly downloaded.You could also install a Linux distribution that's offered in the list but depending on the age of your laptop the graphic card might not be supported when loading Linux.(LinuxMint10 runs perfectly on my Acer but LinuxMint 11 and 12 don't - distorted screen)

    Anyway - as soon as Plop has access to the YUMI boot menu you know Plop works.....


    If you need Win98 for some older programs you could install VMware player(it's free) and run Win98 in a virtual box - for instance I run WindowsXP inside Windows 7 - that way I can still use my "beloved" software from the good old days...

    Read the manual and check if your laptop meets the requirements VMware player needs

  • Was just googling - don't know if it works, just read some comments...

    but you will still need Plop !! So test Plop with YUMI first

  • It is " possible to boot Windows 98 from a USBstick"

    Its called HIRENS BOOT DISK.

    For the MSDOS portion of the DISK all you need is a WIN98SE startup floppy and the HP USB format tool.

    I've Been Using it for years now Hiren and Pankaj's Homepage
    Is The Official Creators site

    Version 8 or 9 is WIN98SE

    Version 10 - 15 is mini XP

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  • "SpeedStep"

    I assumed that "WayOldDell" was talking about a genuine (and legally acquired) Win98SE edition that he wanted to use as a live operating system running from his USBstick.

    I tried the information given in the video (I own a legal Win98SE edition)  - looked promising but stopped the installation as it took too long for scandisk to check the USBstick after running Win98 setup - I might try it later again.

    Anyway: the main focus is currently on Plop - if Plop doesn't work then no boot from USB at all.

  • I use "genuine (and legally acquired) Win98SE " and other versions of windows.

    I have "genuine (and legally acquired)"  DOS, WIN311, WIN95, WIN98, WIN98SE, WIN2000, XP, Vista, 7.

    I take great exception to being told that I do otherwise.

    Hiren gives directions on how to make a WIN98 or WINXP usb boot flash drive.  Just as the

    BARTPE author does.

    Some Older Bios that allow Booting will only work on Flash Drives of 2 Gigs or less because they do not understand FAT32 but work fine with FAT16.

    Bart's Preinstalled Environment (BartPE) bootable live windows CD ...

    Bart's PE Builder helps you build a 'BartPE' (Bart Preinstalled Environment) bootable Windows CD-Rom or DVD from the original Windows XP

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  • I should probably describe my configuration more precisely:

    I'm not using a USBStick or Flash drive, per se. It is a Sabrent 2.5" IDE hard drive USB enclosure. I physically removed my 20GB hard drive (formatted as FAT32, with Win98SE installed) from its Dell caddy and mounted it into the Sabrent enclosure, which has a USB output. So effectively it is an external hard drive.

    For the internal hard drive I now have a 60GB drive (formatted as NTSF, with Windows XP installed). When booted from the internal (XP) hard drive, the Sabrent external enclosure appears as drive F, and there is full read/write capability between the two drives. Note that the reverse is not true... if I swap the hard drive positions and boot internally with Win98SE, it cannot access the external drive. This is a known issue (i.e., NTSF drives can read FAT32 drives but not vice-versa) but I don't seee why that would affect what I'm trying to do, namely, boot by default from the internal NTSF/WinXP drive, with the option to boot from the external FAT32/Win98SE drive. If the latter is selected, I don't care that the internal hard drive will be inaccessible from the external boot drive.

    The only other relevant feature I can think of is that the Dell USB drive is 1.1 rather than 2.0. That certainly doesn't seem to be a problem for I/O between the respective drives, which works fine when booted from the internal XP drive.

    As long as I have your attention, any idea how to uninstall the Plop BootManager? It seems benign enough, but is evidently VERY deeply rooted. I've removed every file I can find associated with it, but it still pops up on every boot, asking me to choose between XP and Plop. If Plop isn't going to solve the USB boot issue I would just as soon not go through this option selection on every boot. Thanks for any suggestions-

  • NTFS is not required and you can format FAT32 to boot  c:\ and LEAVE the drive that way and install XP.

    It will then have a dual boot menu.   Boot.ini probably needs to be modified to remove PLOP.  I dont actually use Plop so....

    WIN98 is not designed to be booted in GUI mode from the USB ports.  Hirens gives you a way to do this but it is NOT the standard windows install.


    Report Unresolved Customer Service Issues here
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    The forum is primarily user to user, with Dell employees moderating
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  • SpeedStep is right - Boot.ini has an additional entry for Plop

    If you  installed Plop the way I did - see previous post - then you can use the uninstall tool described by the author



    To remove the entry from the windows boot menu run the program c:\plop\plpbt4win. Use "l" to list all entries. Remove the entry with "r ID". ID is the number you have seen with "l". See here for more info's to plpbt4win.


    "SpeedStep" thanks for your useful input

  • Thanks MicroTest and SpeedStep,

    I did remove the line in Boot.ini inserted by Plop, and that seems to have completed the uninstall. Thanks!

    I realize that I could reformat the 60GB hard drive into separate FAT32 and NTSF partitions and have a dual (98SE-XP) boot configuration, but I really don't want to eat up space on the drive for that purpose (60GB isn't that much to begin with).

    One of several reasons I want the 98SE boot capability is so I can continue to use my Ricoh MP8040SE CD Writer. I have searched/inquired everywhere, there are NO XP-compatible drivers for this device. Without 98SE, it's a doorstop (and not a very good one).

    I continue to be baffled by the original issue, that is, why is boot capability lost by moving the hard drive to a USB device. I have no difficulty running executables that reside on the USB drive... why can't the boot sequence execute? Is this a hardware issue or an OS issue?

  • The programming code for a bootable device (the MBR) must be located in specific memory locations.On a hard drive connected to an conventional IDE port it is sector 0 track 1.That way any BIOS existing in this world would know where to look for an operating system - if the code is missing:Boot error....

    USB is a relatively new port that was never intended to be capable of booting an external device but that changed about 8 years ago.The BIOS needed to be modified and the MBR was also required to be saved in defined memory locations.I have no in-depth-knowledge about the code sequence on a USB device but if you are interested  in MBR in general check the following webpages.

  • CDBurnerXP -

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  • Hi SpeedStep,

    Thanks for the suggestion, but I already have several versions of CD writer software that will work with either 98SE or XP. What I need is the DEVICE driver itself for the Ricoh MP8040SE CD Writer. To my knowledge there is no XP-compatible driver for it, only a 98SE driver (maybe that's what the SE in the Ricoh model number means).

    To MicroStep, if your still listening:

    I ALMOST got the external 98SE hard drive to boot through the USB using Plop! I believe the problem is that I am running the Sabrent hard drive enclosure USB output into a powered USB hub, and then into the Dell USB port. After examining the Plop documentation more carefully, I discovered this is a no-no... for reasons that elude me, Plop requires that the USB device be plugged DIRECTLY into the computer USB port.

    Unfortunately, the Sabrent hard drive USB enclosure REQUIRES that I go through a powered USB hub! Apparently the computer's single USB port does not provide enough power to spin up/read the hard drive properly. The USB output cord on the Sabrent unit actually terminates with a pair of USB connectors, which are supposed to plug into either two USB ports on the computer (unfortunately the Inspiron 7500 only has one), or into a powered USB hub. If I plug just one of the Sabrent USB connectors into the Dell, it shows up as a problem device... using the powered hub, it shows up properly as a USB Mass Storage Device.

    Recall that when I would try the Plop USB boot with the Sabrent going through the powered USB hub, I would get a "No Boot Device Found" error from Plop. Well, I tried a silly experiment where I plugged one of the USB connectors into the Dell and the other into the powered hub, and re-booted into the Plop BootManager. I used the SHIFT-u hotkey to force USB 1.1 and Presto! Up came the Win98SE boot-up screen!

    All was not well however. Instead of a normal boot it went into a DOS-like mode, asking me to select from various boot options (Normal, Safe Mode, Command Prompt, etc.), none of which would work. It indicated that several files were missing or corrupt (HIMEM.SYS was one of them, didn't note the others), but I think the real problem was that it couldn't read the hard drive properly with this wiring configuration.

    I suspect that if I had two USB ports I could plug directly into on the Inspiron, this Plop USB boot would be working. Or if I could somehow get power into the second Sabrent USB connector without going through a USB hub. Or, if I could somehow hide the USB hub so that it looks like a direct connection.

    So close yet so far!

  • As SpeedStep already mentioned:

    "WIN98 is not designed to be booted in GUI mode from the USB ports.  Hirens gives you a way to do this but it is NOT the standard windows install."

    I wish I could give you some more information....

    Anyway: I just re-read one of your posts.You mentioned that the USB port might only support version 1.1 - to be honest the connection speed would be far to slow to run any OS(it would run but very,very slow.....) and trying to burn cd's could also easily lead to buffer under run errors.I do not think that it would be an enjoyable experience.....

    You also mentioned not to be interested in Dual booting WinXP and Win98SE because it would take up to much space.

    I installed Win98SE yesterday on my inspiron 1545 using VMware - and it only needed 250Mbyte.If you install some additional programs/drivers you might end up with just 600Mbyte - be generous, spend Win98 2Gbyte in total and you have a fine running OS.My old desktop PC  that came with Win98 was fitted with a 10GByte hdd and I always had 7 Gbyte available for private files......

    To make it short - I would go for Dual booting........

    I would also create a backup of your current WinXP installation to save yourself time if things go wrong

    Backup software