Saturday, August 7, 2010

Installing Windows 7 from a bootable USB drive

Installing Windows 7 from a USB drive is easy but you need to know that just copying the installation files from a DVD disc to a USB stick won't help, the installation media has to be bootable and the BIOS has to have the feature to boot from that media.

Installing the OS from a USB has its advantages - USB 2.0 is much faster than reading from a DVD disc making your installation faster. If your optical drive or your disc has stopped working you could always use your USB from one of the many USB ports in your desktop or laptop. If you don't have an optical drive you can use a USB drive but alternatively you could also get an external USB connected optical drive and use your disc as normal.

The following are the steps I found to make any USB drive bootable and to turn it into a Windows 7 installation media (Note: all these steps have been done on Windows 7, Vista will also work)

  • USB drive with atleast 4 GB of space
  • Windows 7 installation disc

1. Insert your USB drive and format it by running the following commands in command prompt (running with administrator privileges):
list disk
Shows the list of storage devices, identify your USB disk # by looking at the size.
select disk 1
disk # that you identified in the last command, mine was disk 1 yours can be different
create partition primary
select partition 1
format fs=NTFS quick

2. Insert your Windows 7 disc and make the USB drive bootable by running the following commands again in command prompt:
the drive letter of your optical drive, yours will be different
cd boot
bootsect /nt60 G:
the drive letter of your usb drive, yours will be different
3. Copy all the files from the Windows 7 disc to your USB drive

That's it your USB drive is now bootable and ready to install windows 7! Make sure to set the motherboard BIOS to boot from your USB stick.


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