This is very helpful (and sometimes necessary) for those situations where you need to bypass the main OS on a system:
- System hard drive failure - you need to be try and recover your files
- You just want a quick 'netbook' system with no HDD
- Locked out with no administrator password, and need to reset user accounts etc
- Take an image of a HDD, or indeed write an image
- Unnattended installations
I have recently found a nice simple method to prepare a USB stick for this purpose - making it bootable and using a pretty slick lightweight OS (Puppy Linux) which is in many ways preferable to my usual BartPE windows line of attack. It has most features you need, like basic office apps, network support, browser, USB support, file manager, nice layout and look and feel...
To set up the .iso image (or any .iso for that matter!) on a USB stick and make it bootable, I found a great little application which will do just that. It's called 'UNetbootin' - Universal Netboot Installer.
Simple to use, and works a treat.