How to run Kodi from a USB Flash Drive on Mac and Windows

It is possible to run Kodi on a wide variety of devices including Amazon Fire TV Stick and Android boxes. Although they are effective solutions and are not too expensive, you don’t necessarily have to purchase these devices to be able to enjoy Kodi. It is likely that you already own a USB drive and this is an option that is cheaper and very practical. In order to run Kodi from a USB drive, you have different options. For instance, you can run a Kodi-based operating system like KodiBuntu or OpenElec. Alternatively, you can run a portable installation of Kodi on a USB drive, which is a solution that is only intended for Windows. Keep in mind that both cases rely on Linux and they won’t work with Smart TVs.

Method 1: Running Kodi-based operating system from a bootable USB drive

The advantage of using a Kodi-based OS is that you can enjoy better speed than what you get when you opt for major operating systems such as Windows. This method is more efficient because the system will focus on running Kodi, which means that there will be less processes using up resources in the background. The main Kodi-based operating systems are OpenElec and KodiBuntu and while the latter offers good speed, OpenElec tends to offer faster performance. The advantage of KodiBuntu is that it gives you flexibility to access additional options in the Linux ecosystem, unlike OpenElec which is limited to Kodi.

In order to run KodiBuntu and OpenElec without issues, it is advisable to use a computer that supports USB 3.0 and a USB 3.0 drive. The recommended USB drive size for KodiBuntu is 2GB, at least and 256MB for OpenElec. To create a bootable KodiBuntu USB drive, the first thing that you need to do is to download KodiBuntu from http://mirrors.xbmc.org/releases/kodibuntu and make sure that you select the version (32-bit or 64-bit) that suits your system’s capacity. Once you have downloaded the most suitable version for your system, you need to get additional software to be able to run the OS from your USB drive. Follow the below steps for KodiBuntu.

KodiBuntu – Windows

Windows users can opt for Linux Live USB Creator, an easy to use solution that offers different sections. You can download it from http://www.linuxliveusb.com/en/download and once you have the application, follow the below steps:

  1. Select your USB drive
  2. Select and image file, which will be the KodiBuntu ISO image that you previously downloaded. It is advisable that you set the persistence to about 2000MB. Persistence is the amount of storage you allocate to data including settings, installed programs and files. The size you assign will depend on the capacity of your USB drive. By having this data stored on your USB drive, you won’t need to complete a fresh installation whenever you boot KodiBuntu.
  3. You will need to mark the option that says “Format the key in FAT32 (this will erase your data!!)“. As the name suggests, this will delete all the data on your USB drive so make sure that you use a drive that you only intend to use for running the operating system.
  4. To start the installation, click the lightning icon and once the installation is completed, restart your computer and enter the BIOS settings while the USB drive is plugged in. This process would vary according to your device model. To make sure that the computer boots from the USB drive before the hard disk, make sure that you change the boot order. This will give you the possibility of booting directly into KodiBuntu.

KodiBuntu – Mac

  1. For Mac, the Mac Linux USB Loader is required to be able to get the USB working. You can gete it here https://www.sevenbits.io/mlul/.
  2. Once it has been downloaded, you need to run the Disk Utility application on your Mac. Select the USB hard drive where you want to install KodiBuntu on and then choose Erase at the top of the screen
  3. MS-DOS (FAT) should be the option chosen under Format and Master Boot Record under Scheme. Name the drive and then press Erase
  4. Open the Mac Linux USB Loader and choose the Create Live USB option
  5. Select the drive on which you want to install KodiBuntu. Press Next and select Other under Distribution Family, on the following screen
  6. Select Begin Installation to be able to perform the installation process. Once the installation process is completed, you will see a message that confirms that it was successful.
  7. Restart your computer and enter the BIOS settings while the USB drive is plugged in. The process to do this will vary depending on the model of your device. To make sure that the computer boots from the USB drive first and not from the hard drive, modify the boot order. This will allow you to boot straight into KodiBuntu.

OpenElec – Windows

  1. First you will need to download OpenElec from http://openelec.tv/get-openelec. There are multiple options available, but you can opt for the x86, which is the generic stable release.
  2. To be able to create a bootable USB drive for OpenElec, you need to use Win32 Disk Imager, which can be downloaded from https://sourceforge.net/projects/win32diskimager. Once you download and run the application, you can select the drive where you want to install OpenElec.
  3. Extract the OpenElec file that you previously downloaded. You can use Winrar for this purpose. Select the resulting .IMG file within Win 32 Disk Imager.
  4. Then, you just need to select Write. Restart your computer after the installation, while the USB drive is plugged and enter the BIOS settings. Again, the way in which you do this will depend on the device you have. To get the computer to boot from the USB drive before the hard disk, change the boot order. This will give you the possibility to boot directly into OpenElec.

OpenElec – Mac

You can also use Mac Linux USB Loader in this case and follow the same process as with KodiBuntu on Mac.

Method 2 – Run a portable installation of Kodi on a USB drive

It is also possible to opt for a portable installation of Kodi, but keep in mind that this method only works with Windows. Here is what you need to do:

  1. You will need to get the installation file for Kodi from https://kodi.tv/download. Since Windows is widely used, it is likely that you can use your Kodi installation in most cases.
  2. Run the installation file, setting the installation path to the root directory of the USB drive. Next, select Do not create shortcuts.
  3. Select Install, but don’t run Kodi once the installation process is completed.
  4. Create a shortcut to kodi.exe. You can do this by right-clicking on the file in the Kodi folder on your drive. Then select Create shortcut. This file will need to be moved to the root directory of your USB drive.
  5. Right click on the shortcut and then select Properties. Add “-p” in Target next to the text that you will see there. By doing this, the Kodi folder on your USB drive can be used for storage of important data including plugins and scripts, which means that you will enjoy a truly portable installation.
  6. Once the installation is completed, you can run Kodi from the .EXE file that is found on the USB drive on any Windows computer. Make sure that the USB is plugged in thsi case as well. All the files needed for all these methods to work will be kept on the USB drive.

Securing your Kodi experience

In order to secure your Kodi experience and enjoy content that is subject to geo-blocks, it is important that you consider using a VPN. Services like ExpressVPN, VPNArea, BUffered and PureVPN are ideal since they offer fast performance for streaming. They also protect your online traffic, giving your privacy and keeping your identity hidden while you stream content via Kodi.

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