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Create a Bootable ESXi Installer USB Flash Drive

For servers without CD drive or remote KVM you might want to use an USB Flash Drive to install ESXi to the hardware. This post explains how to create a bootable ESXi Installer USB Flash Drive in less than 2 minutes. The Flash Drive will work totally identical to an Installable CD.


  1. Download Rufus
  2. Download or create an ESXi image:
  3. Connect the USB flash drive to your computer
  4. Open Rufus
  5. Select your Device
  6. Select your ISO file
  7. Select MBR partition scheme for BIOS or UEFI computers
  8. Press Start
  9. Select Yes when it asks to replace menu.c32.
  10. Rufus will now create your bootable ESXi Installer USB Flash Drive. This will take about one minute.

Additional Hint
When you boot a server with this USB Flash Drive the ESXi Installer will copy the whole installer to the memory which means that you can install ESXi to the device where you are installing from. Just select it during the installation. This also works for diskless ESXi hosts where you want to install ESXi to an SD Card.install-esxi-to-usb-flash-drive

42 thoughts on “Create a Bootable ESXi Installer USB Flash Drive”

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  5. Can someone help me figure out why the USB install on my NUC 5i5RYK doesnt see my Transcend 128 GB SSD M.2 drive as an option? The only option available is to install back on the USB.

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  7. Thanks for this guide, I asked how to do this on another thread and my answer was right here! I'm using this for 1st Intel NUC that arrives tomorrow. . So, first NUC, first time using ESXI. It is going to be an adventure!

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  11. I created the USB boot drive with the procedure but didn't work ... in boot sequence appear Unknown Device. What could be the problema?

  12. I tried with the latest version of rofos and it didn't work.
    downloaded 1.3... and was able to create bootable USB.
    Just FYI if any will have the same issue.

  13. There is a software called Universal USB Installer by this software you can easily create your USB bootable on Linux. For that, you have to download the software on your system. Before that, you make sure that you have installed the Linux on your computer.

  14. Not working for me, with Rufus the USB is not being bootable, tested in QEMU and on few hardware computers/servers.
    Unetbootin worked just fine, so if you have a probleem making it bootable try Unetbootin.

  15. how do you delete all the esxi partitions? I tried everything... windows, dd, fdisk. I cannot reformat the usb stick that has a bootable esxi install.

    any advice?

    1. Rufus does that automatically. You don't have to delete partitions prior to write the ESXi Image.

      If you want to delete all partitions in windows, use DISKPART.
      Run > diskpart
      DISKPART > list disk (Identify your USB drive)
      DISKPART > select disk x (select your USB drive)
      DISKPART > clean

  16. doesnt work...cannot download menu32

    this option is a poor choice....please find another that doesn't require internet to create a iso....smh.

  17. I faced with issue: unable to unzip IMGDB.TGZ

    I fixed it with one more copy:

    call :log Unpacking the IMGDB.TGZ file ...
    call :logRun "%SEVENZIP%" x -y -o"%TMPDIR%" "%ISODIR%\IMGDB.TGZ"
    if not "!RC!"=="0" ( call :fatal Error uncompressing IMGDB.TGZ & exit /b 1)
    call :logRun copy "%TMPDIR%\_fdopen_" "%TMPDIR%\IMGDB.tar"
    if not "!RC!"=="0" ( call :fatal Error rename file IMGDB.TGZ & exit /b 1)
    call :logRun "%SEVENZIP%" x -y -o"%IMGDBDIR%" "%TMPDIR%\IMGDB.tar"
    if not "!RC!"=="0" ( call :fatal Error un-taring IMGDB.tar & exit /b 1)

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