How to install Windows 7 from USB drive

Couple of times, some people called me expressing frustrations on their inability to use their USB drives to run an OS. Of course, the first question I know you would ask is why would anyone want to install from USB drive when the OS usually comes is disks and most recent systems also come with DVD drives. Well the reasons are not only that the user may have a bad DVD drive and has a financial inability to acquire another, but also installing from USB is faster and some tiny laptops may not come with DVD drives.

Whatever be the case, let us look at the step by step methods we can use to install Windows 7 from a USB drive:

  1. Ensure that your motherboard supports USB booting (confirm this by: plug in the USB drive, start the system, choose the Startup options and check if USB is listed in addition to your HDD and DVD. If so, then you are game!)
  2. Get a 4GB or higher USB drive, then plug it in to a working system. Note: Ensure you back up all important files in the USB drive! The process we are to embark on will erase the entire content of the USB drive
  3. Slot in your Win 7 DVD install disc or the ISO image into the same working system as 2 above. Do not start to install the OS on the system
  4. Open your ‘My Computer’ and make a note of the drive numbers of both the USB drive and the DVD drive with Windows 7 files on it.usb-and-computer-drives
  5. As you can see from the image above, the DVD drive is drive that has letter D assigned and the USB drive is E.
  6. Open the command prompt with admin rights —- click start>All Programs>Accessories>right click Command prompt and choose Run As…
  7. Type diskpart and then press Enter. This will show you the DISKPART version of your system. If the version is less than version 6.1…, then it may not work to make the usb drive bootable. Use another system with higher specification.diskpart
  8. Then type list disk and then press enter. The image below shows our 32GB USB drive is listed as DISK 1
  9. Then type select disk 1 and press enter (your USB Drive may have a different number, don’t follow exactly this text it depends on your usb drive letter). You will get a successful response “Disk 1 is now the selected disk”
  10. Then type clean and press enter. You will get a successful response ‘DiskPart succeeded in cleaning the disk”.
  11. After the drive is cleaned, type each of the below commands pressing enter after each:Select disk 1 (or what number your USB drive has)create partition primary

    select partition 1


    format fs=ntfsdiskpart1

  12. Formatting can take a little time depending on the size of the drive, our 32GB unit took about 10 minutes to format – you will see a percentage readout until it is finished.
  13. Next type assign and then press enter. Then type EXIT and press enter (DISK PART will exit).diskpart2
  14. Type D: CD BOOT (substitute the “D” if necessary with the letter of your Windows 7 DVD drive)
  15. Then CD BOOT and press enter
  16. And finally type BOOTSECT.EXE /NT60 E: (substitute the “E” if necessary with the letter of your now ready USB drive) – we are telling the system to create a boot sector file on the USB drive.
  17. Now you can exit the command prompt and copy all the files on the Windows 7 DVD to the USB drive.
  18. Once this step is finished you’ll be ready to boot from this drive, all you need to do is configure your motherboard bios setup to boot first from USB rather than hard drive or optical drive. If you don’t know how to do this, refer to your specific motherboard manual or search the internet.

I hope this helps? Good luck!


3 Responses to How to install Windows 7 from USB drive

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