Weird Yet Pleasant Finding On USB Booting

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  1. Posts : 1,310
    Windows 10
       #1

    Weird Yet Pleasant Finding On USB Booting


    For as far as I remember since the introduction of UEFI Bios management system of hard drives and I keep reading the following quotes everywhere and following them blindly :

    When Windows can’t boot from USB, you need to make sure your bootable USB drive is formatted in the FAT32 file system if your computer supports UEFI and you are attempting to install Windows in UEFI mode. That is, you cannot use a USB drive with the NTFS file system to boot and install Windows in UEFI mode
    UEFI specs define FAT32 as mandatory
    Source : What If Your PC Can’t Boot from USB? Follow These Methods!
    Another : I'm unable to boot my Windows 10 installer USB in UEFI mode? - Super User
    Another : windows 8 - UEFI Boot a NTFS Drive - Super User
    etc etc

    Now I have always been finding this a weird approach by Microsoft as the Fat32 system is obsolete compared to NTFS (File Size and Permissions) , and usually my uses for USB Booting revolves around attempting to recover crashed systems or extracting important files using Windows PE Environment Or Recovery Disks deeming this a troublesome approach since files larger than 4 GBs can not be recovered on same USB Flash Drive / Pen Drive , which are usually what I am trying to recover or are worthy of recovering (Database Files , Project Files , Video Files etc) leading to the problem that I need to plug another Media to recover these kind of files and hopefully I am not short on ports .

    Now suddenly I came across a very weird finding ...

    You can actually boot into UEFI using NTFS (GPT or not) judging that the booting Port is USB 2.0 .

    So Apparently the FAT32 restriction was enforced by UEFI as a policy but not a system limitation as they persist to mention , yet apparently in that policy they forgot to ban the USB 2.0 ports from booting to UEFI in NTFS format .

    I further took it to the test that if a system has no USB 2.0 using small 2.0 Hubs as an interconnection (converter) between USB Flash Drives / Pen Drives and a USB 3 port do the trick too (Might be Hub type / brand dependent though , others need to test and report too as mine was a vanilla Hub just laying around from years ago) .

    Now the down side to this process is the following : While it surely opens for recovery of large files it limits the recovery process to the USB 2.0 speed , making it an iffy job still to recover a large data file at 28 MB/s or so , but might be a useful mean in dire situations like the one I had that lead to such finding .

    Now I honestly hate how once again we are lead like sheep in a world of weird secret policies but keep copying what we are being told and consider it professionalism .

    Cheers
      My Computer


  2. Posts : 6,651
    Windows 11 Pro - Windows 7 HP - Lubuntu
       #2

    I would say that when you're booting from the USB 2.0 you're booting as Legacy, not UEFI or your BIOS is one that can boot as UEFI from a NTFS USB drive (very rare)

    To boot as UEFI it isn't mandatory to the boot manager be on a FAT32 partition. It depends on the UEFI BIOS. As FAT32 is universal (Windows, Mac and Linux can use it), most UEFI BIOS require that the boot manager be on a FAT32 partition.

    The Win (7, 8 .x, 10 or 11) USB installation drive can boot as Legacy or UEFI.
    - If you copy all files and folders from the Win (7, 8 .x, 10 or 11) iso to a USB formatted as NTFS, in most computers it will only boot as Legacy.
    - If you copy all files and folders from the Win (7, 8 .x, 10 or 11) iso to a USB formatted as FAT32, in all computers with UEFI BIOS it will boot as Legacy and UEFI.

    Windows can be installed in two ways: Legacy-MBR or UEFI-GPT
    To install as Legacy-MBR you must boot the installation drive as Legacy
    To install as UEFI-GPT you must boot the installation drive as UEFI.
      My Computers


  3. Posts : 1,310
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter
       #3

    Megahertz said:
    I would say that when you're booting from the USB 2.0 you're booting as Legacy, not UEFI or your BIOS is one that can boot as UEFI from a NTFS USB drive (very rare)

    To boot as UEFI it isn't mandatory to the boot manager be on a FAT32 partition. It depends on the UEFI BIOS. As FAT32 is universal (Windows, Mac and Linux can use it), most UEFI BIOS require that the boot manager be on a FAT32 partition.

    The Win (7, 8 .x, 10 or 11) USB installation drive can boot as Legacy or UEFI.
    - If you copy all files and folders from the Win (7, 8 .x, 10 or 11) iso to a USB formatted as NTFS, in most computers it will only boot as Legacy.
    - If you copy all files and folders from the Win (7, 8 .x, 10 or 11) iso to a USB formatted as FAT32, in all computers with UEFI BIOS it will boot as Legacy and UEFI.

    Windows can be installed in two ways: Legacy-MBR or UEFI-GPT
    To install as Legacy-MBR you must boot the installation drive as Legacy
    To install as UEFI-GPT you must boot the installation drive as UEFI.
    This was tested on UEFI only mode , no legacy was involved , and fyi if you use legacy mode on EFI drives that are GPT the booting USB may not have accessibility to those drives at all . did you even attempt it yet ?
      My Computer


  4. Posts : 6,651
    Windows 11 Pro - Windows 7 HP - Lubuntu
       #4

    nIGHTmAYOR said:
    This was tested on UEFI only mode , no legacy was involved , and fyi if you use legacy mode on EFI drives that are GPT the booting USB may not have accessibility to those drives at all . did you even attempt it yet ?
    Of course I have.
    As I said, your UEFI BIOS can be one of the rare types that can boot to a non FAT 32 partition.
    For sure the USB 2.0 does not have anything to do with the fact that you booted as UEFI from a NTFS partition.
      My Computers


  5. Posts : 1,204
    11 Home
       #5

    Ventoy lets me use USB 3.0 flash drives to boot straight into just about any bootable ISO file that is larger than 4GB. Legacy BIOS or UEFI, it just does not matter. No need to keep reformatting a USB flash drive ever again. No need to mount/extract/convert the ISO file, just boot straight into the actual ISO file itself and enjoy.
      My Computers


  6. Posts : 844
    Windows 7
       #6

    Rufus allows you to boot NTFS volumes directly on UEFI. The old problem was most bootloaders aren't signed by MS, so most UEFI's with Secure Boot enabled just ignored them. But Rufus resolved that issue with an approved digital signature, and it just works now. Other bootloaders may be stuck with the same restrictions on signing.
      My Computer


  7. Posts : 6,651
    Windows 11 Pro - Windows 7 HP - Lubuntu
       #7

    garlin said:
    Rufus allows you to boot NTFS volumes directly on UEFI. The old problem was most bootloaders aren't signed by MS, so most UEFI's with Secure Boot enabled just ignored them. But Rufus resolved that issue with an approved digital signature, and it just works now. Other bootloaders may be stuck with the same restrictions on signing.
    I'm not sure but I think Rufus create two partitions on the USB drive that you can create yourself.

    Create two partitions on the USB drive
    - One Fat32 - 1G set as active
    - One NTFS = 7G

    Copy all files and folders from the mounted iso to the Fat32 partition EXCEPT the /Sources folder
    Copy the /Sources folder from the mounted iso to the NTFS partition
    Create on the Fat32 partition a /Sources folder. Move the Boot.wim from the NTFS partition /Sources folder to the Fat32 partition /Sources folder
      My Computers


  8. Posts : 1,310
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter
       #8

    you are all neglecting the fact that all informative sites state clearly ntfs booting on gpt efi is prohibited and yet you are all referring to undocumented personal experiences , this is the idea of the topic , to instate that we are being manipulated by informative documents .
      My Computer


  9. Posts : 4,700
    several
       #9

    UEFI specs define FAT32 as mandatory
    Who told you that?

    You can actually boot into UEFI using NTFS
    Yes we know. My bios supports efi boot from ntfs partitions. Nothing to do with usb 2 on my machine.
      My Computer


  10. Posts : 844
    Windows 7
       #10

    nIGHTmAYOR said:
    you are all neglecting the fact that all informative sites state clearly ntfs booting on gpt efi is prohibited and yet you are all referring to undocumented personal experiences , this is the idea of the topic , to instate that we are being manipulated by informative documents .

    FAQ . pbatard/rufus Wiki . GitHub
    Blah UEFI Blah FAT32, therefore Rufus should Blah!

    Okay, let's just start by getting this out of the way:
    WHAT YOU HAVE READ ON THE INTERNET IS WRONG.
    NO, UEFI does NOT force the use of FAT32 for boot. As a matter of fact, you can just go out there and buy an Intel NUC PC, and you'll find that it'll boot an NTFS drive, in pure UEFI mode, just fine, with no need whatsoever for a FAT32 partition to exist anywhere. And this is not in any way because the Intel NUC UEFI firmware deviates from UEFI the specs. On the contrary, since it comes from Intel, you bet that it is as compliant with the UEFI specs as can be.
    So please let this be 100% clear: Despite what you might have heard, it is perfectly possible for a UEFI computer to boot from an NTFS drive, or from any other file system for that matter, because there is literally nothing in the specs that actually mandates the use of FAT32 for boot.
    Now, the confusion/misinterpretation seems to come from the fact that, what the UEFI spec does mandate, is that, at the very least, a UEFI system should be able to boot from FAT32. But by no means does it state that FAT32 is the only file system that UEFI can, or even "should", boot from.
    So, to make this abundantly clear, please do not misinterpret something that says “a wheeled vehicle SHOULD AT LEAST have one wheel” to mean “a wheeled vehicle CAN ONLY have one wheel”, as you'd then restrict the category of wheeled vehicles to only unicycles, which is just as wrong as saying that UEFI can/should only boot from FAT32.
    Especially, it is exceedingly easy to make any UEFI firmware boot from a non-FAT32 file system: all you have to do is provide a UEFI driver for that file system, and you're good to go.
    Therefore, with this being said, and if you had actually bothered to try, instead of relying on erroneous statements from the internet, you would have found out that:

    1. Rufus does support booting from NTFS, in pure UEFI mode, through its UEFI:NTFS feature.
    2. There's nothing in the way Rufus enables UEFI boot from NTFS that is even remotely non-compliant or "hackish" with regards to the UEFI specs (For instance Microsoft does something quite similar when they switch boot from the FAT32 EFI System Partition to the Windows NTFS partition).
    3. The above does allow to boot images that contain files larger than 4 GB
    4. You should trust Rufus when it allows you to select a specific file system, even in GPT for UEFI mode
      My Computer


 

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