How to Create a Bootable USB Drive from Your Windows CD
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Do you have a Windows CD or DVD, but can’t use your optical drive to install the operating system (OS) on your new computer? Or maybe you’re concerned about CD/DVD rot and just want to create a backup.

Instead of a disc, you can use a USB drive to install Windows. Flash drives are smaller, have more storage, and can be used to install multiple OSs — if you use the right technology.

Here is how to create a bootable USB drive How to Create Windows 10 Installation Media How to Create Windows 10 Installation Media Regardless of how you arrived at Windows 10, there's a way to create your own installation media. Sooner or later you might need it. Let us show you how to be prepared. Read More , instead of using a Windows CD.

Benefits of a USB Drive

There are several situations where USB drive installation media is beneficial:

  • You can easily create backup installation media.
  • Significantly faster installation rate vs regular installation media.
  • Keep original installation media in pristine condition.
  • Easy to carry multiple operating systems on a single USB drive.

Our relationship with Windows CDs and DVDs has changed, too. For instance, Windows 10 is available for sale on a USB drive. Discs are still available but are no longer the only method of installation. Furthermore, newly purchased hardware usually comes with an OS pre-installed. Consequently, some users never actually use or even see installation media.

Copying Your Disc with WinToFlash

USB drives are all very well and good, but you still need a copy of your Windows installation disc. In the past, it involved manually copying files, opening the process up to mistakes. However, we can easily automate that process using WinToFlash. The WinToFlash Personal Edition will create a bootable USB 10 Tools to Make a Bootable USB from an ISO File 10 Tools to Make a Bootable USB from an ISO File A bootable USB is the best way to install an operating system. Besides the ISO and a USB drive, you need a tool to set it all up. That's where we come in. Read More directly from your Windows installation media.

Download and install WinToFlash Personal Edition. Once installed, open WinToFlash. You will have to accept a EULA, and view a non-intrusive advert. Open the Advanced mode tab.

How to Create a Bootable USB Drive from Your Windows CD WinToFlash Transfer Windows Installation Media

Select Transfer Windows Vista/7/8/10 setup to a USB drive. Set your Windows setup file path. Next, select the USB drive you’d like to install to. Finally, press Run.

Please note the selected USB drive will be formatted during the process, so back up any important files!

WinToFlash Multiboot

WinToFlash also has multiboot support. You can build a customized bootable USB drive filled with Linux distros, recovery disks, and other handy tools. The only limit is the size of your USB drive.

How to Create a Bootable USB Drive from Your Windows CD WinToFlash Create MultibootCD

Head back to the Advanced mode tab and select Create Multiboot USB Drive. On the next screen, select Add. This opens the Add new item panel. Like other multiboot USB drive tools, WinToFlash has a long list of potential tools. Scroll down the list and select a tool.

How to Create a Bootable USB Drive from Your Windows CD WinToFlash Download Tool Clonezilla

The option to Download selected ISO now will appear. Choose this option to download the latest version of the selected tool or OS. Alternatively, you can select and add ISOs already stored on your computer.

How to Create a Bootable USB Drive from Your Windows CD WinToFlash MultibootCD ISO List

Complete your selection and select Run.

Please note that WinToFlash Lite will only allow two ISOs on your multiboot. I’ve curated a comprehensive list of multiboot USB tools How to Create a Bootable Multiboot USB for Windows and Linux How to Create a Bootable Multiboot USB for Windows and Linux A single USB flash drive is all you need to boot, install, and troubleshoot multiple operating systems. We'll show you how to create a multiboot USB, including Windows and Linux installers and recovery tools. Read More that do the job much better, and without restriction.

Windows 10 Media Creation Tool

WinToFlash is great for making a bootable USB from your physical installation media. But in this day and age, many users eschew the traditional and head straight to the internet, keeping it digital.

The Microsoft Media Creation Tool has made the process of downloading Windows ISOs that much easier. Accordingly, the Media Creation Tool automatically downloads an ISO to your specification, eliminating the need for copying physical media to your computer, then onto your USB drive.

Windows 10

Download and run the Media Creation Tool. Accept the licensing agreement. Select Create installation media for another PC.

How to Create a Bootable USB Drive from Your Windows CD Windows 10 Media Creation Tool

Next, select the language, edition, and architecture of your OS. The Media Creation Tool offers recommended settings. However, if you are downloading an ISO for a different system, you may need to change these settings.

How to Create a Bootable USB Drive from Your Windows CD Windows 10 Media Creation Tool Architecture

The next page has two options: USB flash drive or ISO file. The latter creates an ISO file from the details entered on the previous page. This can be installed to a USB drive using alternative software, such as Rufus. In this instance, select USB flash drive, then Next. Now, choose your USB drive and create the installation media. It will download the latest version of Windows 10, so it could take a moment.

How to Create a Bootable USB Drive from Your Windows CD Windows Media Creation Tool ISO or USB

I find downloading an ISO extremely handy. Then I can create as many USB installation drives as I want without having to complete this process again. I’ve given a short tutorial below on how to create Windows installation media using Rufus.

Windows 7/8.1

Please note there is a separate tool for Windows 8.1. It follows a very similar process to the one detailed above.

How to Create a Bootable USB Drive from Your Windows CD windows 8 8

Those searching for a Windows 7 ISO must have their license key at the ready. Head to the Windows 7 Disc Images page and follow the instructions.

A Quick Rufus Tutorial

I’m going to quickly show you how to create a bootable USB drive using Rufus. Rufus is a handy tool that “helps format and create bootable USB flash drives.” It is very simple, and gets the job done — a great combination!

How to Create a Bootable USB Drive from Your Windows CD Rufus Windows 10 Installation Media

Head to the Rufus website and download the latest version of the utility. Once downloaded, run the program. Under Device, set the USB drive you’d like to install to. Next, select the small disc icon and browse to the Windows ISO you would like to create installation media for. Set a new volume label if you desire, but it isn’t necessary. Select Start, and let Rufus take care of business.

Can I Boot From USB?

This is a very common question. It is largely system specific but can be altered by the user via the BIOS. This is controlled by the boot sequence.

How to Create a Bootable USB Drive from Your Windows CD windows 10 mac installer bios boot

Your system will usually seek to boot from wherever your OS is installed. The drive containing your main OS will be the first option in the boot sequence. It is possible to manually override this, instead of booting from a USB drive containing new installation media.

BIOS configurations are different for each manufacturer. I would suggest searching the internet for “[hardware manufacturer] BIOS tutorial/boot sequence.”

Ready to Install

You’re now ready to create a bootable USB drive for Windows 10, 8.1, and 7 How To Make a Bootable USB, CD or DVD to Install Windows Using an ISO File How To Make a Bootable USB, CD or DVD to Install Windows Using an ISO File Need installation media to reinstall Windows? In this article we'll show you where to get Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and 10 installation files and how to create a bootable USB, CD, or DVD from scratch. Read More . This installation process should speed up your next clean installation, while giving you chance to get rid of some of those pesky old discs. Just remember to write down your license codes and keep them in a safe place!

Do you keep your Windows installation discs handy? Or have we seen the back of traditional installation media? What is on your multiboot USB drive? Let us know your thoughts below!

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  1. Iryna
    November 12, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    It still doesn't answer the question: "How do I create a bootable USB from bootable DVD?" I don't have an iso file. I only have a DVD with a bunch of files and folders there.

    Wintoflash free version doesn't offer even the very basic functionality now. Are there any other options? Again, for converting bootable dvd to bootable usb, not Windows iso to usb.

  2. rudy
    March 19, 2017 at 1:45 am

    Three words - Macrium Reflect Free

  3. SD44
    March 19, 2017 at 12:23 am

    Terrible article. Unfortunately, WinToFlash only allows you to make a multiboot USB with 2 entries when using a personal/non commercial license. Utterly useless and a cheap trick on their part. On the other hand, it is your responsibility to research the programs you present more thoroughly...
    MUO used to be a place to learn new programs and features...too bad this is not the case anymore...

    • Gavin Phillips
      March 19, 2017 at 12:39 am

      I don't think that makes it a "terrible article" -- it is just an oversight on my behalf. But you're right, I should have picked up on that before posting. MUO is still very much a place to learn new programs and features, as there are thousands of other articles, even on this very topic.

      My apologies for the poor research. I was updating a much older article and used the program the original author had compiled the article around. If you'd like to create a multiboot USB, here is a fresh piece on the same topic I wrote in February:

      http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/bootable-multiboot-usb/

      Again, my apologies.

      • SD44
        March 19, 2017 at 12:47 am

        I do believe you should be more careful when providing info about programs and when you fail to do that, then the article is indeed terrible.
        I am not a troll though and I do appreciate your courage to admit your mistake. In addition, your related article in February was excellent and very helpful. Please build on that and not this :)

        • Gavin
          March 20, 2017 at 10:07 am

          Thanks, SD - very reasonable of you :)

  4. Uncle G
    October 26, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    Don't use it, it hijacks your browser.

  5. santhosh
    April 26, 2016 at 8:52 am

    It worked for me, maybe it works with Win 7, thanks for this blog

  6. wappy
    March 13, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    virus, don’t use it.

  7. buse
    January 12, 2015 at 8:31 am

    Wintoflash is nothing more than a virus, don't use it.

  8. Andreea
    November 8, 2009 at 11:44 pm

    Hi! I tried to make my USB flash bootable in order to install WinXP. WinToFlash made my flash bootable but it does not install XP. When I boot from the USB the cursor just blinks and stays there for ever. The installation process does not begin. Any ideas? Please....

  9. jax
    October 16, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    (long time user of these forum sites, first time commentor.)
    normally when i have an issue i perform a search to scour online forums for people who have had a similar issue and to read possible solutions. this method has worked about 99% of the time. however, after spending all day (literally, all day) yesterday trying to get not only xp onto my usb drive but make it bootable in the process, this site really became the salvation to my sanity (and what's left of my hair).
    that said, i think it is important that others realize that if the copy of xp they have is only sp1, they will need to integrate sp2 into it in order for the usb drive to work properly. the following site helped me to do just that:
    http://articles.techrepublic.com.com/5100-22_11-5304468.html
    and this website provided me with the tools to make my usb drive bootable. so thanx Varun!
    what strikes me as "odd", is that while every one of these tutorial sites i came across usually begin with some iteration of the fact floppy drives are dead, and some computers either have a non-working optical drive or no optical drive at all, and so booting off a usb drive will become a necessity. that there is so many "possible" solutions to do this. and that the majority of them are crap. i mean, sure, from one of the tutorial sites i was able to make my usb drive bootable, but it was impossible to install xp since it was in a FAT16 environment.
    maybe there should be an option inside windows itself to format a usb drive and make it bootable (much like in win98 there was an option to format a floppy disk and make it bootable...), i don't know, something easier than spending a whole day trying different solutions, and honestly contemplating purchasing an external optical drive to get the installation done. ugh!
    and thanx again Varun!!!

  10. cheap computers
    October 9, 2009 at 5:02 am

    I think theoretically, the transfer speeds should be better and the installation process is a little faster.

  11. Sana
    October 3, 2009 at 7:16 am

    Thanks a lot dude...you are a just amazing...i spent a lot of time for this...thanks to u i got the answere...

  12. abass
    September 13, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    i love it, it really amazing incredible

  13. John
    September 11, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    As a novice, I went through the process of trying to make a bootable USB from this process. Process was easy to follow and it completed with no problems. Changed the BIOS to boot from a USB as 1st selection. Did a shutdown and power up. Other than the USB blinking a few times it would not boot up. Cursor stock in upper left corner blinking. Must of done something wrong. Used Boot CD that came with the Dell XPS M1330 (Vista Ultimate)

  14. batteries
    September 11, 2009 at 7:48 am

    Hi Varun am impressed by your work.
    Actually previously I have less knowledge about bootable USB and after your post it seems helpful.
    Anyways thanks for the brilliant post.

  15. Charlie
    September 11, 2009 at 6:49 am

    i do enjoy all the tips sent to me by oh use of. they have really helped me overcome some difficulties with computing.

  16. Peter
    September 10, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    Installs from a USB drive are SIGNIFICANTLY faster than from a disc. I've done Vista and 7 installs from a USB drive that took about 15 minutes.

    As far as the size, for Vista or Win 7 you will need a 4 Gig drive. Considering you can buy a 4 Gig flash drive for $10 why bother with anything less?

    You actually don't even need to go to all the trouble in the article. Just copy all the files from your DVD or from the ISO file to the root of a freshly formated USB drive and you're ready to go.

  17. radd
    September 10, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    what is the smallest drive size I can use?

  18. Chris W
    September 10, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    UDB..lol. Considering the CD you usually install an OS from is around 700mb, a USB stick of the same size should do. Even if you slipstream SP3 onto the stick it will only be around 600mb. You can slim it down even further with a product like nLite.

  19. appsbyaaron
    September 10, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    Might be a stupid question but what size UDB drive is needed? 4 GB?

  20. ronit
    September 10, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    initially i taught its all fake but it work very simple...

    • Marco
      September 10, 2009 at 3:58 pm

      Hey Varun, thanks for the post, i wish i had seen this a week ago. My optical drive was broken and I had to reinstall my OS.

    • Guru
      May 17, 2015 at 11:21 am

      Thanks!! Worked like a Charm!