Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Installing Windows 7 from USB

Installing Windows 7 from a DVD is the most common way and anyone won’t need any advices on that. Absolutely it is a very straightforward process and what you just need do is following the instructions. But there may be some situations where you need to use a USB as the installation media. For example, some notebook computers doesn’t have a DVD drive by default. Well, in my case, I had a desktop which it’s DVD drive wasn’t working :) Odd enough!

Anyhow if you need to use a USB stick as a medium for installing Windows 7, you will have to follow few steps. But with maximum care. Because there are some commands we are executing which will even cause complete disk formatting if you execute them in wrong manner. But no need to panic, just follow the instructions as it is.

Yet there are some free utilities available for the same task, for an example, UNetbootin. It is a very simple utility to prepare a USB booting devises for number of operating systems. But in the below context, I will tell you how to make a USB booting device without the help of any utility.


First there are few things you need to find/configure;

  • You need a USB storage device – About 4GB is convenient as it sufficient for any Windows 7 installation
  • Windows 7 Installation DVD
  • Your computer should have a USB port and a DVD drive in-order to make the USB booting device
  • Change the BIOS startup order to boot from USB Drive. This may be either “USB-ZIP” or “USB RMD-FDD” according to your hardware configurations.

Creating the Bootable USB

First insert the DVD in to the DVD drive and plug the USB device in to the computer. If you have any data in your USB stick it’s better to back-up them since we’ll have to format the USB.

Open the “Command Prompt” with administrative privileges. Right click on the Command prompt in the start menu and select “Run as Administrator

Then type diskpart’ and hit Enter. That will start the Diskpart utility. It is available in most of the modern systems (if not, download it from here).

NOTE : In this part you must be extremely careful. Because you might accidently delete data in your hard disks when using the Diskpart utility.

In the command prompt type ‘List Disk’ to see all the disks available in your computer. Identify the “disk ID” of your USB device. It’s better to note down the Disk Number because you might need it later.

Then select the USB drive. To do that type ‘Select Disk 2′ and hit enter. Make sure you select the disk which you noted in the previous step. Run list disk again to verify the selection. You must see an asterix (*) next to disk 2.

Now we have to clean the USB drive. To do that, type ‘Clean’ and hit enter. But I must warn you, this command will erase any existing data or partition in the USB device.

Create a primary partition in the USB device by typing ‘Create Partition Primary. Type “List Partitions” and verify the partition has been made. It should be selected by default, if not select the partition by “Select Partition 1”.

Next mark the partition ‘active’, so then computer will recognize it as the booting partition. Just type “Active” and press enter.

Then list the volumes by “List Volumes” command and select (if not already) your volume by “Select Volume 7”. Make sure to select the appropriate volume id. You can also do that by drive letter (e.g. Select Volume J)

Now’s the time to format the USB device. Type “Format fs=ntfs quick” and press enter. And wait till the formatting complete.

We have done with the Diskpart utility, so type “Exit” and press enter.

Now insert the Windows DVD in to the dvd drive and move in to the ‘boot’ directory of the dvd drive. Type “F:” press enter (F is the drive letter for my dvd drive) and then type “CD Boot

Then type “Bootsect /nt60 J:”. Here replace ‘J’ with your USB drive letter. Now you have just finished adding the boot sector to the USB drive.

Next, you have to copy all the files and folders from the dvd to the USB. You can do it by Windows explorer but it is very good to use the command prompt. Actually in the explorer you may sometimes miss the hidden folders. Go to the root of the dvd drive (“F:\>”) and type “xcopy /e *.* J:” and press enter. This step will take sometime.

Well, That’s all! Now you have a bootable usb device which is obviously faster than the normal dvd.


  1. Is there anyway to install windows on the usb flash? Is it possible to create a bootable drive rathere than a installation device?

  2. Nice article. I had to install windows on a network couple of months back. Installing from DVD was a headache. Dang! USB installation is pretty quick.

  3. Hi,
    For the question asked by "Anonymous", the answer (according to my knowledge) is NO.
    We can't install windows on a USB flash drives. One reason is, system doesn't recognize it as a primary hard disk storage. So, during the installation procedure we can't select it as the installation drive.

    But the following article explain how to install and run a instance of Windows 7 using Virtualbox. Yet you can' install and boot from the USB alone. (


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