How do I ... create an installation flash drive for Windows 7?

Steven Warren shows you a no nonsense approach to creating a flash key drive that you can use to install the Microsoft Windows 7 operating system.

I have read a lot lately on how to install the Microsoft Windows operating system from a flash drive. The directions on how to do this were spotty at best and required lots of third-party tools. None of this is necessary. Here is a no-nonsense approach to creating a flash key drive that you can use to install the Windows 7 operating system.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a TechRepublic download.

We will begin by inserting a flash drive key into a laptop or desktop, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

Next, click the Start button and type cmd in the instant search bar. Right-click on the cmd entry and select Run as Administrator, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

Now we are ready to run Diskpart. Type diskpart, as shown in Figure C. Type List Disk, as also shown in Figure C, to find your USB key. In this case, it is Disk1.

Figure C

We will continue by typing Select Disk 1 and cleaning the flash key by typing clean, as shown in Figure D.

Figure D

Let's continue by typing create partition primary, as shown in Figure E.

Figure E

Next, type active to mark the disk as active; we are getting closer to the finish line. Now we are ready to format our partition by typing Format FS=Fat32, as shown in Figure F.

Figure F

Now you can copy over the installation files of Windows 7, as shown in Figure G. (Note: This technique applies to Vista or XP also.)

Figure G

Once you have copied the installation files, the next thing is to configure your laptop/PC to boot from the flash drive. You should log in to your BIOS settings to make sure booting from USB is available. Finally, start your laptop/desktop and select from which boot device you want to load the operating system. In this example, I will choose the USB 4GB SanDisk, as shown in Figure H.

Figure H

It is time to get a cup of coffee and let your Windows operating system load, as shown in Figure I.

Figure I

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