How to Create Bootable FreeDOS USB Drive in Windows

FreeDOS is an operating system that dates back to 1994 when the most popular operating system was Microsoft’s own MS-DOS. FreeDOS was started as a free alternative to the then expensive MS-DOS. Back in the 90’s it did not catch that much popularity, but now you can see FreeDOS being pre-installed on many inexpensive laptops. FreeDOS supports all the features that were supported by MS-DOS and you can run all the programs and games that were designed for MS-DOS. It is great for playing some of the very very old games that you cannot play in newer versions of Windows. For example, games like Carmageddon, Quake, Blood, Duke Nukem, Doom etc., can be played in FreeDOS easily.

But before you can use FreeDOS, you have to first make a bootable FreeDOS USB drive so that you can boot into FreeDOS. From there you can choose either to install FreeDOS on your hard drive or run it without installing. So here is how you can create a bootable FreeDOS USB drive:

  1. Download FreeDOS from You can download either the USB full installer or the USB lite installer. Direct link for FreeDOS 1.2 USB Lite version is
  2. Extract the contents of the downloaded ZIP archive to a folder. You should be able to see the IMG file which is going to be used.FreeDOS Bootable USB
  3. Download Rufus 2.14 from
  4. Attach the USB drive that you want to use to create a bootable FreeDOS drive. It will be displayed in Rufus, make sure you select the correct USB drive. It will be completely overwritten and the data on it will be destroyed, so backup the existing data if needed.
  5. Select Create a bootable disk using, select DD image and then click on the small disk icon to choose the IMG file that we have extracted in the step 2 above. FreeDOS Bootable USB
  6. Click on the Start button and wait for the process to be finished. Your bootable FreeDOS USB drive is ready.
  7. Now you can reboot your PC, press F12 to select the boot device as soon as your PC starts to boot and you will be using FreeDOS.FreeDOS Bootable USB

Since FreeDOS does not support UEFI, you will have to make changes in the BIOS to disable UEFI, enable the legacy mode or the compatibility mode before you can boot into FreeDOS bootable drive. After this, you can press F12 to open the boot menu, select your USB drive from the list and try out FreeDOS.


  1. I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me finally make this application work so I can return my computer. Please if you have a PayPal would like you to donate something because you have helped me what others couldn’t.

    thank you sincerely.

  2. I am trying to make a bootable USB for Free DOS. I want to boot up the computer on the USB and use it to format the hard drive with FreeDOS. I can get the computer to boot USB sticks on Linux without problem but I can’t get Rufus to make a bootable partition on the USB. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    1. FreeDOS cannot access NTFS formatted hard drive partitions. For accessing FAT32 drives, use usual DOS commands, e.g., to access F: type F: and press Enter.

  3. Thanks much for the info! This is the only article I found that actually tells you that you need the FreeDOS images to properly format with Rufus and to switch to Legacy mode in order to boot.

  4. I would like to point out tht, this post quite doesn’t explain on how to make a live Freedos usb.
    I followed the steps but all it made was an installer for Freedos asking u where to install. It technically doesn’t make a live version.

    Hope u can understand.
    So is there a permanent fix for this.
    Awaiting some reply.

  5. Thank you for letting us know how to create a bootable USB containing FreeDos, but how do we create a LiveCD? As I am sure you know, FreeDos 1.2 is not available as a LiveCD. Is there an easy way to go from your bootable USB to a LiveCD? Having both is a bonus. Thanks in advance!

    1. The place where you download the Usb version also contains the Cd setup version. Look carefully u’ll find it.

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