Windows

Video: Install Windows 7 from a USB flash drive

Bill Detwiler shows you how to install Windows 7 from a bootable USB flash drive--created with the free DiskPart utility.

Windows 7 DVDs are now lining store shelves. But once you get your hands on a DVD, how do you install the new OS on a computer with no optical drive-like most Netbooks? In this episode of TR Dojo, I show you how to install Windows 7 directly from a USB flash drive.

For those of you who prefer text to video, you can click the Transcript link that appears below the video player window or read Greg Shultz's article, "Configure a USB flash drive to be a Windows 7 installation platform," on which this episode is based.

For more ideas on getting the most from your USB flash drives, check out Greg Shultz's article, "10 cool things you can do with a USB flash drive".

You can also sign up to receive the latest TR Dojo lessons through one or more of the following methods:

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

33 comments
jwarrior13
jwarrior13

that is a nice and helpfull video thanks to you sir jodo..

lslcarrijo
lslcarrijo

Very simple and useful. Thanks...

lwhitehall
lwhitehall

The main reason I state this is that M$ setup a 20GB partition for the C: (OS) drive, then made the rest D:. Then M$ wants to install everything on the C: drive (development tools, office, etc). It also wants to format all the drives in the computer before install.

Fyrewerx
Fyrewerx

Win 1.1 was the real pain in the butt to install. It was required for Aldus Pagemaker, and had to be installed over DOS. It ran when you started Pagemaker. I'm surprised we ever got any publishing done due to the slow PC, slow DOS, slow Windows, and not-all-that-fast Pagemaker layers.

shravan100
shravan100

Excellent is not the word!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!@@@### it was a peace of cake after watching the video

FatNGristle
FatNGristle

You really should be wearing more Dojo-appropriate attire, possibly w/ a sword on your back. And as long as the server room is a backdrop, do it in different locations. Servers on a mountainside, servers in the rice fields, servers in the jungle, servers in an actual dojo w/ sparring in the background etc.

roy.evison
roy.evison

This concept has been around for a while but good to see it discussed. On the original video I would like to see more about how to change the bios (and they are legion) to accommodate this. Also, carrying around an o/s on a stick is of limited use if the place, understandably, where you want to plug it in will not change the boot order. Roy.

Jacky Howe
Jacky Howe

I used to have problems with was Windows NT and at the moment it's running at (22%). It's in the lead. It will be interesting to see the end result from the poll.

mikea
mikea

Hey Bill, you did not explain why it is not possible to set up the USB on XP. PS I always watch your outtakes!

islamslmy2
islamslmy2

very nice really thank you alot :)

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

TeraByte has a back up program that will back up to a USB stick.But my Dell Precision 380 won't run it.It gets so far then it hangs. (DiskPart in XP is in Safe Mode>Administrator>System 32)

Number 6
Number 6

Hmmmm... I wonder who's buttering the bread these days? Oh, yes! It's just another glorious, rainy day in Redmond again.

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

Instread of this mess, why don't you use the tool provided by Microsoft to transfer the installation to the USB key. It's at their store [unsure why there and not in the usual downloads section] but it's free.

Zpunky
Zpunky

The worst: Any Windows Server OS... because so many servers don't have floppy drives and this really F***s-up what should be a simple process. If you're in IT and have ANY control over the systems purchased, you can/should buy nearly identical workstations. Then you can create a ghost image and copy that image and the Ghost executable to a bootable USB key. I started doing this with XP a couple years ago, and will setting up the same for W7. So easy and fast. Any utility that enables you to create a bootable USB floppy will work. Depending on your image size, you can put it on the USB key, with partitioning if necessary, or use a built-in or USB optical drive.

jmlamotte
jmlamotte

Did you not forget a step in the video to make the USB Flash Drive bootable? For a NTFS filesystem a command like: bootsect /nt60 [USB Drive Letter:] should be run before the USB Drive is bootable. Is it not the same for a FAT32 file system ? I am not an expert but... Let me know if I am wrong or right. If you don't have time to test I will run a test with and without that step and I will let you know. Thanks.

rfc
rfc

Great, but I download windows 7 and can't find the installation files, where would they be? I have contacted Microsoft numerous times and they just don't get it.... Help

ttiller
ttiller

I think you'll have a hard time using a fat32 file system. Even thought that is what Microsoft says to use, it will not support large drives and it will fail when you try to copy the .wim file over. I had to use two thumb drives, one bootable fat32, and then one exfat with the files. Good luck.

stevebuck
stevebuck

You can also use a utility program to create bootable USB for other OS flavors. Search for winsetupfromusb_0-2-3.exe.

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

Then your file format system may be wrong.Try NTFS.HP has a small disk format program that does the trick.Some memory sticks come with all that software.In the help section you might be able to delete that partition.I want my OS to run from a memory stick!I tried all the programs---none so far worked.(Try "Win to Flash" fot XP running on a USB stick.)

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

In the above TR Dojo post, I explain how to install Windows 7 from a bootable USB flash drive, which actually speeds up the installation process. Original post: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/itdojo/?p=1276 Along my IT career, I've installed every version of Windows since Windows 3.0. Some definitely had a better installation process than others. Which was the worst? Take the poll in the above post, and let me know.

jmlamotte
jmlamotte

But you will need an other tool. You format the USB Flash Drive in FAT32, then you convert it in NTFS (convert [driveletter:] /fs:ntfs) and then you use MBRWizard (http://mbrwizard.com/MBRWiz2.0.zip) to make the partition active. Then you make the USB Flash Drive bootable with: bootsect /nt60 [driveletter:] from the boot folder of Windows 7 DVD And then you copy all the files and folders from the DVD to the Flash Drive.

russell.keeton
russell.keeton

The Diskpart Utility is used to make the stick bootable. I tried the steps, although I opted to format as NTFS because I will be the one using it, and it works flawlessly and quickly.

yagar
yagar

If you downloaded the OS, it may have come in Box files as in Setup1.box and Setup2.box. You have to convert these to an .ISO file then burn a DVD. To do this runt the Win7-P-Retail-en-us-x86.exe (That's what mine was named, yours might be different) file which will extract the files. Now you need Oscdimg CD/DVD Pre mastering Utility: oscdimg.exe. (Easy to find on the web). Once you get this .exe, it has to be run from a command prompt. The info should be where you find the exe file. After that is complete you will have an ISO file which you can burn then make into a flash.

deanpoi
deanpoi

If you downloaded Windows 7, you should have an image file(probably a .iso file). Mount the image using third party software such as PowerISO, or Slysoft's Virtual CloneDrive. Once the image is mounted, you should be able to see the install files.

MytonLopez
MytonLopez

Easy to use tool. Has a gui interface and does everything you need it too like format ntfs or fat32. You can also make bootable by using option to create a DOS startup disk and use file from A:\ in which you format a floppy in XP using format option to create an MS-DOS startup disk and which it copies 3 files to your flas drive - io.sys, msdos.sys, and command.com. You can download from site- http://hp-usb-disk-storage-format-tool.software.informer.com/

paulomagalhaes
paulomagalhaes

It is not Windows, but it is over my head. You just cant have a crash course on it.

jmlamotte
jmlamotte

Did you not miss a step in the video to make the USB Flash Drive bootable? A command like: bootsect /nt60 [USB Drive Letter:] should be run before the USB Drive is bootable. I am not an expert but... Let me know if I am wrong or right. If you don't have time to test I will run a test with and without that step and I will let you know. Thanks.

russell.keeton
russell.keeton

Downloading and setting up the tool takes longer than running these few simple steps. Took me easily less than 5 minutes to complete the process described in the how-to. I found it funny that they managed to stretch it out to an 8 minute video.

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