Howto: Create a bootable Backtrack 2.0 USB flash drive

The Backtrack 2.0 final distribution is probably the finest collection of open source network penetration, security, and auditing tools currently available. I use this software for some network penetration testing and security auditing work I perform. I suggest only using these tools on networks you own or have permission to audit because of potential legal ramifications. That being said, here’s what the Backtrack 2.0 is all about.

According to the remote-exploit web site,

“BackTrack is the most Top rated linux live distribution focused on penetration testing. With no installation whatsoever, the analysis platform is started directly from the CD-Rom and is fully accessible within minutes.

It’s evolved from the merge of the two wide spread distributions Whax and Auditor Security Collection. By joining forces and replacing these distribution the BackTrack could gain a massive popularity and was voted in 2006 as #1 at the surveil of Security professionals as well as new-comers are using it as their favorite toolset all over the globe.”

Backtrack 2.0 contains over 300 security tools, and it can be downloaded here. You can find detailed notes that describe how to install Backtrack to a hard drive, and don’t forget to check out the wiki, which details installing Backtrack in many different configurations.

Now that you know what Backtrack 2 contains and why you might want to use it, here’s the quick instructions for creating a bootable USB stick installation from a Windows machine (Vista Business, in this instance).

1) Format your USB drive using FAT32. Do not perform a quick format.

2) Download the Backtrack 2 final .iso and open it with your favorite compression/extraction program. I like Universal Extractor, aka UniExtract.

3) Copy the boot and BT directories from the Backtrack .iso and copy them to your USB drive.

4) Open a command prompt by clicking StartRun and typing cmd then press enter.

Note: if you’re using Windows Vista you’ll need to open an elevated command prompt, which can do more things than a regular command prompt. To do this, click the Windows Vista icon, right click Command Prompt and select Run as administratorContinue.

5) Change to the drive letter associated with your USB drive. If you don’t know what letter your USB drive is, and you cannot figure it out, this may not be the best software for you to use.

6) Type cd boot and press enter to change to the boot directory on your USB drive.

7) Type bootinst.bat and press enter to make your USB drive bootable. You be asked to press any key to continue. Once the batch file completes you should be able to restart your machine and boot from the Backtrack USB drive.

Parting Notes

Creating the bootable USB drive from the Backtrack GUI Installer did not work for me for whatever reason, and neither did the BackTrack 2.0 Downloader and USB-Stick burner for Windows. Maybe it has to do with using a newer 8 GB flash drive, I’m not sure. There are also many other methods you can try if this doesn’t work for you, just Google it.

You can also try using the MySlax Creator to add drivers, patches, and other modules to your Backtrack.iso file. has a nice video showing you exactly what needs to be done to integrate these updates into your distribution.

17 Responses to “Howto: Create a bootable Backtrack 2.0 USB flash drive”

  1. antimaroa Says:

    Hi, I have followed all the instruction you gave to crete a bootable USB backtrack, but in the very first step I failed. The vista command prompt refused to change the directory to my ny USB location, even though I ran it as an administrator. i will be very happy if you help me, Thanks a lot.

  2. Dave Says:

    Are there any restrictions on the type of USB drive you use? Tried it on a 1GB drive I have and it will not boot.

    • Alex Says:

      I’ve got the same problem, disappointingly it seems
      that the minimum requirements are 2 GB.

      Is there any way to use BT with less diskspace ?
      Thanks for the effort.

  3. Vegasmac Says:

    Great guide! Any ideas on doing this on a MacBook Pro??

  4. Siggi Says:

    Veasmac, use Disc Utility and restore the image on to the drive.

  5. Neil Says:

    I already tried this several times, doesnt work somehow, am gonna try again with the new copy i downloaded, which is 700 mb version…
    i tried formating the pen drive to ntfs, fat32 and fat…none of them work. the folders (copied from the 900 mb usb installation from de torrents), were in de root of de pen drive. i ran de bat file as admin frm the rite drive…dint work…
    i even tried runnin de sh script on my mac, but that said that the pen drive wasnt mounted, and i’m not very familiar with unix commands, so although i did experiment, and disk utility showed that the pen drive was mounted, the installer refused to work. on my pc, it says the pen drive is bootable now, and doesnt give any errors, but doesnt work when i restart. and i know its not a problem with the boot order or bios or nythin, coz the bios is set to boot frm usb first, and i have used the same pen drive to boot DSL earlier…maybe the bat file wasnt properly written earlier, i’ll try it now, and get back to you, meanwhile if u have any suggestions, u can email me ( the author i mean, i’m not puttin up my email here for de others, recieve enough spam as it is)

  6. DeadEnd Says:

    I think u need a practical approach, so i provide u a link for it, , good luck…

  7. ohZargh Says:

    Great tutorial! I followed through and it worked perfectly, I’m just about to start experimenting. I was wondering if you have any good guides for some of the tools included in BT3? I would be interested to see them. Thanks.

  8. SulaX Says:

    Good tut work perfect to me…

  9. My Useful Links / Tools etc Says:

    […] How to create a bootable USB BackTrack Distro […]

  10. Martin Says:

    Worked like a charm!! Exellent tutorial!!

  11. web site information Says:

    Great blog. Just stumbled here late on Christmas day – but I’ll definitely be back – – Happy new year to all

  12. Gabe Says:

    ok so i got to the last step and i says windows- no disk exception processing message c00000013 75b6bf9c 75b6bf9c 75b6bf9c. what did i do wrong?

  13. pradeep Says:

    Hi, I found this link when I was googling to install back track. None of the other links helped me and this came as a helping hand. Thanks a lot for writing this step by step tutorial. Could you please throw some light on the tools to partition 8 gb usb flash drive. wiaiting for your response.

  14. Booter Says:

    My favourite solution: very nice GUI.

  15. prax Says:


    The info provided saved lot of time. Keep writing!


  16. linux hacks Says:

    thanks for the info…I have a problem in installing linux-back-track-4 on my debian os, I want to install back track using vertualization ..

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