How to install Windows 7 from USB flash drive

15 Jan 2013

This article will tell advanced users how to install Windows from a flash drive. We also have an easier way to install Windows from a flash drive on laptops and netbooks.

Mini laptops, netbooks and tablet PCs have succeeded multi-function heavy computers. Most of them do not have an optical drive, but it isn’t a drawback.
Even if something is happened to your laptop and Windows 7 installation is required, you will be able to perform this process using USB flash drive.
We recommend that you attentively read this article before starting Windows installation.
So, if you are the proud owner of a computer without DVD-ROM and puzzled with a question how to reinstall Windows, you can use our instructions for correct installation of Windows from a flash drive.

Preliminary preparation
First you should find out if your laptop supports USB boot. In most cases there are no questions about it but if they are you should think about hardware upgrade. Check the latest BIOS version on motherboard manufacturer’s website. Then we start to create a bootable USB drive for Windows.
Prepare a flash card with at least 4 GB of free space, because Windows 7 distribution takes a lot of space. Creating a bootable USB drive for Windows will require: PC or laptop with Windows Vista or Windows 7 and a disk with corresponding distribution. If soon-to-be Windows bootable flash drive contains important information, be sure you already have it copied in a safe place, as removable drive will be formatted. Then you can proceed with Windows 7 installation.

Step-by-step instructions Once the flash drive is ready for use, you can start formatting a bootable Windows partition on the flash drive.
• First of all, you should start a command line with administrator privileges. This can be done in two ways. The first way: go to "Start" menu, type cmd in the search box and hit a 3-key combination: Ctrl + Shift + Enter. Second way: go to "Start" menu, choose All programs, then Accessories, and after that right-click on Command Prompt. Select Run as administrator, thus a command line will be launched. Remember that you should have administrator rights to install Windows 7 from a flash drive on your computer.
• Before you record Windows on a flash drive, explore necessary information about your removable drive. Type DISKPART in the command line and press Enter. You will see the list of disks from which you should remember the number of your flash drive in the operating system. Then you can continue Windows installation on your netbook.
• Create a boot sector on your flash drive and then format the flash drive. For example, if the flash drive is identified as Disk 1, indicate Disk 1 for SELECT command. It is important to select right disk in order to avoid formatting of necessary data. Then select next commands one by one: SELECT DISK 1 – CLEAN - CREATE PARTITION PRIMARY - SELECT PARTITION 1 – ACTIVE - FORMAT FS=NTFS – ASSIGN – EXIT
• Minimize a command line window without closing it. Insert DVD with Windows 7 or Vista and look at the name of DVD drive in the system. Let's assume that this is F disk.
• The next stage is returning to a command line and going to the folder containing the boot files on the disk. In a command line type the following: F: - CD BOOT. You will need the file from F:\BOOT folder. Run this file to generate a boot code on the flash drive. Type BOOTSECT.EXE /NT60 H: (in this case "H" is a designation of your flash drive in the OS). Then press Enter, and the following message will be displayed: Successfully updated NTFS file system boot code. This means that the loader is created.
• The next step is very simple: copying DVD contents to the flash drive.
• Finally, after all performed operations you can install Windows 7 from USB flash drive. You need only to set boot priority in BIOS. Put your flash drive in a USB port and press Del during load process. Change the order of hard disks in Boot / Hard Disk section so that our flash drive is the first. Then select the removable drive as the 1st Boot Device in the Boot / Boot Device Priority.
There are many ways to install Windows 7 from USB flash drive, and this is not the easiest, so before you start, we recommend that you read other way how to install Windows from a flash drive on a netbook.
Some users complain that they are having troubles installing Windows 7 from a flash drive, and we are ready to reply any questions that you may have. We also recommend that you get a spare removable drive for storing Windows from USB flash drive. If your operating system crashes, you will always have Windows on a flash drive on your hand.
We recommend that you save the article with detailed information about Windows installation from a flash drive and use it as a manual.
What about Windows XP? We have figured out how to install Windows 7 from a flash drive on a netbook. But what if you don’t have Windows 7 or Windows Vista?
A lot of people wonder if it is possible to create such flash drive in Windows XP? In fact, this OS does not have default tools for creating a boot loader on removable drive. But there is a solution. You should use capabilities of a free third-party application such as MBRWiz. Further actions are not much different from the previous instruction.
• First of all, you should format flash drive. Right click on the removable drive and select Format from the menu. Since Windows XP formats flash drives only in FAT32, you will need NTFS.
• Then type in the command line: CONVERT I: /FS:NTFS (in this case I means the name of a flash drive in the system).
• Unpack MBRWiz.exe and go to the directory where it is unpacked. Go to MBRWIZ / LIST, remember the number of our flash drive. For example, if the flash drive is marked as DISK 2, we get: mbrwiz / disk = 2 / active = 1
• Generate a boot loader code in the same way as described in Windows Vista /7.
• After copying distribution files on removable drive, bootable USB disk is ready.
That's all. The main thing is not to lose self-control in a difficult situation. You do know all about how to install Windows from a flash drive on a computer and how to reinstall Windows on a laptop.

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