The version of the diskpart program that is included with Vista allows working with flashdrives. This is an easy way to get a flashdrive bootable and seems to work well. This procedure is posted in several places on various websites.
When you clean the flashdrive and then create the new partition, diskpart writes the Vista standard MBR code to the flashdrive. This sets up the flashdrive to be bootable regardless of whether there was any existing MBR code or not.
I tested this procedure using two different 2GB flashdrives and one 8GB flashdrive in various MBR states. The Acronis Media Builder program had no problems with the flashdrives and True Image Home 2009 had no problems booting from them. I assume that would hold true for previous versions as well.
The basic procedure is as follows:
With Vista running, plug in your flashdrive and wait for it to be detected. If you get a pop-up window, just close it.
Start a Command Prompt in Administrator Mode.
Start the diskpart program:
The following commands will be run from the diskpart prompt: DISKPART>
Run the list disk command to display a list of your drives. The flashdrive will be included in this list and you should be able to find it by its size. In this example, Disk 3 is the flashdrive.
Enter the following commands to clean and setup the flashdrive:
Below is a screenshot showing the entire procedure and the output from diskpart:
You can close the Command Prompt window by typing exit at the prompt and pressing ENTER.
Your flashdrive should now be setup and ready to use with Media Builder to create your bootable Acronis Rescue Media.
Depending on the current state of the flashdrive, you may get an error messsage after you enter the create partition primary command. This error is shown below:
If you get this error, do the following:
In each case I received this error, this solution worked for me. If anyone gets different results, please let me know.