How To Create An Android USB Drive

Create An Android Live USB Drive

Gary Newell 

A live Android operating environment, booted from USB, offers a chance to explore Android with desktop equipment while not risking your computer's current operating system.

Download Android x86

To download Android x86 visit http://www.android-x86.org/download.

The software from this site aren't always in perfect sync with Google's Android releases, because Android x86 is not an official Google product and therefore requires a bit of time to port.

There are two images available for each release:

  • The ISO image will work on older computers using a standard BIOS. If your computer was built to run Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 then it is likely that you will need to download this image. The filename will be in a format similar to android-x86-4.4-r3.iso.
  • The IMG file will work on computers which use UEFI. If your computer was built to run Windows 8 and above then it is likely that you will want to use this file. The filename will be in a format similar to android-x86-4.4-r3.img.

Instructions For Windows Users

Windows users need to download a piece of software called Win32 Disk Imager.

After you have downloaded the Win32 Disk Imager software, install it then insert a blank USB drive into your computer. If necessary, format the drive if it's not already blank.

To create a bootable USB drive:

  • Double-click on the desktop icon for Win32 Disk Imager.
  • Click the folder icon next to the Image File box and select the downloaded Android image.
  • Select your USB drive letter from the device drop-down list.
  • Click Write.

If you are using a computer running Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 then you can just reboot with the USB drive left in your machine and a menu will appear with options to boot Android. Choose the first option to try it out.

If you are using a computer running Windows 8 or above follow these extra instructions:

  • Right-click the Start button and choose Power Options.
  • Click Choose What The Power Button Does.
  • Scroll down and untick Turn on fast startup.
  • Click Save Changes.
  • Hold down the shift key on the keyboard and reboot the computer while keeping the shift key held down.
  • When the blue UEFI screen appears, choose to boot from EFI device and then select your USB drive.

The Android menu should appear. Choose the first option to try Android out in live mode.

Instructions For Linux Users

The instructions for those of you using Linux are much simpler. Insert a blank USB drive, open a terminal window, open your downloads folder in the terminal window, then issue the following command:

$if=android-x86-4.4-r3.img of=/dev/sdb

Note the above assumes that your USB drive is in /dev/sdb. You should replace the name of the image file after if= with the name of the file you downloaded.

Reboot your computer and a menu should appear with options to boot Android x86. Choose the first option to give it a try.