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I have read that when creating a USB boot image with dd, the USB device should not to be mounted. Can somebody explain to me why not?

I am very confused please help me out.

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Because dd will copy the contents of the iso image along with partition table inside it, so having the USB device mounted is not recommended and backing up the contents of the USB device is because the dd command with wipe all data in it. If you have a USB stick with grub as the boot loader you can actually boot from an iso so that you don't have to wipe the data from an existing USB stick. I am not sure if this is possible with syslinux.

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