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usb installation disk windows 7I recently bought a nice new setup for my media centre, but I didn’t want to splash out on another DVD drive when physical media is basically dead – and swapping out a DVD drive from another machine just to install Windows seems like such a waste of time when I could be eating Christmas pudding. While Windows 8 is slated to allow media-less upgrade, today I’ll outline a relatively easy way to make a bootable Windows installation USB drive, without having to download additional software. If your Christmas PC budget didn’t quite stretch to a DVD drive, this is the tutorial for you.

We described a similar method How To Install Windows 7 On Netbook From A USB Drive How To Install Windows 7 On Netbook From A USB Drive Read More before, but it required a few external utilities. This time I’ll assume you have a working Windows 7 computer with an existing DVD drive somewhere – and a working installation DVD to go with it. You’ll use this machine to format, set up, and copy over the relevant files to a USB stick. You could also do this without a DVD drive from the ISO, but in that case your job would be a whole lot simpler because you could use the official ISO -> USB creator.

Note: You cannot use this method to install to a Parallels virtual machine. Your only option in that case is to use either a physical DVD or an ISO download and connect to that to the VM instead.

You’ll need:

  • A working Windows 7 system with a DVD drive and administrator rights.
  • A Windows 7 installation DVD.
  • 4GB USB drive or larger.

This will also work with larger external hard drives instead of a USB thumbdisk, but be aware that all the data on the drive will be formatted and deleted.

Open an Elevated Command Prompt

Click Start -> All Programs -> Accessories and right-click on Command Prompt. Select Run As Administrator. Of course, you need to be able to authenticate as the administrator on the PC you’re using.

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usb installation disk windows 7

Partitioning the Disk

Type:

DISKPART

usb installation disk

This will open up the partitioning application. Next, type:

LIST DISK

Figure out which of the drives listed is your USB drive, and note the number. It’s crucial you get this right, or you’re going to end up losing data on other drives.

usb installation disk

Next, type the following series of commands, but replace the DISK number in the first line with the appropriate number from the above list. Here, my disk is number 1. Don’t confuse this with PARTITION 1. That number should not change, even if your disk is 3.

SELECT DISK 1
CLEAN
CREATE PARTITION PRIMARY
SELECT PARTITION 1
ACTIVE
FORMAT FS=NTFS
ASSIGN
EXIT

usb installation disk

Make It Bootable!

The format step may take a little while (it actually took about 30 minutes on my machine). When you’re done, put in your installation DVD if you haven’t already. Note down which drive letter your USB disk and Windows installation DVD are located at.

usb installation disc

Go back to your command prompt and type – assuming D: is your DVD drive with the install DVD, and U: is your USB drive:

D:/BOOT/BOOTSECT.EXE /NT60 U:

This will basically make your USB drive bootable.

usb installation disc

Copy Everything

The final step can be done from My Computer. Just open up the installation DVD, highlight everything, and drag it over to your USB drive.

usb installation disc

This will also take a while.

usb installation disk windows 7

Now you should be all set – just insert the USB disk into your new PC, and enter the BIOS to adjust the boot order, or choose the option during start up which says Choose Boot Device.

Let’s hear it for computers with no noisy and clunky DVD drives! Death to physical media! Or not – what do you think? Are you ready to go DVD-less?

  1. mark
    October 25, 2016 at 2:05 pm

    Thanks a lot. I just followed the steps and got Windows 7 Pro onto a 8 Gb stick and it is now installing from the stick.

  2. Jerry
    September 6, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    thank you. my dvd drive was not working but I found a way out. great article!

  3. Amanda
    July 3, 2016 at 5:55 pm

    Hello,

    Thank you for this article!

    After inputting

    D:/BOOT/BOOTSECT.EXE /NT60 E:

    I get a bunch of different lines.. example:

    active
    add
    assign
    attributes
    attach etc.

    Can you explain what is happening here, and what I've done wrong?

    Thank you

    • Jon
      August 15, 2016 at 4:00 pm

      Exit out of partioning application. Need to access C:/windows/system32 instead of diskpart

  4. Dave
    June 11, 2016 at 2:32 am

    Worked for me. Thank you!

  5. Chancekz
    May 19, 2016 at 9:10 am

    Dear Team,

    all work perfect for me. however, when i go to the step "D:/BOOT/BOOTSECT.EXE /NT60 U:" it gives me an error of "this tool can only be run on system booted using a PC/AT BIOS. this system is booted using EFI or some other firmware type".

    how to go about it from here? please assist.

  6. KA
    April 19, 2016 at 7:26 pm

    Thank you. Worked for me!!

  7. Nirmal
    March 7, 2016 at 1:01 pm

    No Dont make 1st boot device as pen drive, leave it as its, just press F12/F9 for fast boot option and press any key to continue . . . .

  8. Albert Bastian
    October 3, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    Hi !

    My DVD drive is F and my USB is J
    I've tried many times and still get the same error.

    C:WINDOWS/System32>F:/BOOT/BOOTSECT.EXE /NT60 J:
    Target Volumes will be updated with BOOTMGR compatible bootcode/

    Could not map drive partitions to the associated volume device objects:
    access is denied.

    • Robin de Laater
      November 4, 2015 at 4:30 pm

      Try opening CMD with admin rights, So right click it and then run as administrator!

      Good Luck!

      Cheers

  9. Odbayar Odko
    July 25, 2015 at 5:19 pm

    Awasome article. But guys you need to know After format disk you need to write it on cmd ASSIGN EXIT. If you won't do it, I won't able to see flash drive.

  10. Mike S
    June 22, 2015 at 8:29 am

    consice and clear instruction.. and it works!
    may i ask or know if you have instructions on how to create system recovery on usb?

  11. roman.smith365
    June 12, 2015 at 10:38 pm

    After making my USB Bootable my i able to use USB as a drive disk as i use before..??

    Because I need both things waiting for your response

    • James Bruce
      June 13, 2015 at 2:00 pm

      Yes.

  12. Luke Artola
    May 26, 2015 at 1:41 am

    I did what you sayed and I succesfully transfered it over but I am having an issue with the startup when ever it restarts to load the system it starts from the begining

    • sse one
      June 11, 2015 at 8:51 am

      If you already installed windows and then your computer restarts. Unplug your USB-Flashdrive so that the installation will continue.

  13. ingo
    February 20, 2015 at 10:28 pm

    I REPLACED A HARD DISK ON MY LAPTOP, AND DOWNLOADED A W7 ISO FILE on dvd.
    i tried everything above but the last part tackled your help.
    D:/BOOT/BOOTSECT.EXE /NT60 E: my laptop didn't respond on this??
    gave a list of words. SO i installed windows 7 from a dvd instead of a "bootable "usb....e voila....
    computer was also saying missing bootmanager on usb..

  14. noob
    February 14, 2015 at 8:04 am

    my usb flashdrive is disk 1, is that the disk youre supposed to clean?

    • James Bruce
      February 14, 2015 at 10:28 am

      Yes

  15. Alex
    February 13, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    Great article

    My DVD drive is D and my USB is F. What am i doing wrong!!!??
    Ive tried many times and still get the same error..

    C:WINDOWSsystem32>D:/BOOT/BOOTSECT.EXE /N6
    The system cannot find the path specified.

    • Alex
      February 13, 2015 at 4:34 pm

      Sorry forgot the NT in the last one, but doesnt make a difference..

      C:WINDOWSsystem32>D:/BOOT/BOOTSECT.EXE /NT60 F:
      The system cannot find the path specified.

    • James Bruce
      February 13, 2015 at 4:50 pm

      Silly question - but do you actually have the install disk in the dvd drive? Have you tried navigating to it and checking the boot directory is even there? If it isn't, you might not have an install disk there, and it might be some kind of restore dvd that your PC manufacturer supplied...

    • Alex
      February 13, 2015 at 5:15 pm

      I believe thats what the issue might be, the disc is a Reinstallation CD that came with the laptop. Says Recovery Media for Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition Svc Pack 3.
      Does that mean i can use it?

      IThe only thing im trying to do here is fix my Dell Dell 1012 Mini Inspiron that has no media drive.
      Here is my issue; so i thought i would fix it with the usb fix?
      I got this error (windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: WINDOWSSYSTEMvgaoem.fon)
      I have the original boot cdrom but don't have an internal cdrom drive on this laptop. So i have been trying to get it to run from an external cd rom drive but it wasn't installed before this happened. What can i do?? Ive changed the boot sequence several times and this did nothing..Not recognizing the cdrom. How can i fix this laptop!!?

    • James Bruce
      February 13, 2015 at 5:27 pm

      Ah, I don't think this tutorial will help.

      An external USB drive *should* be recognized in the BIOS, but it might be labelled as USB floppy or similar - definitely keep trying to boot from it once you know the drive is actually working (test it on your other machine first).

      If that doesnt work, the only way I can think of to revive that laptop would be illegal -ie, download an install disk from *somewhere*, then put that onto a USB drive, then perhaps enter your original licence key.

      Or just install linux, given how old the laptop is and how vulnerable you would be running XP...

    • Alex
      February 13, 2015 at 5:36 pm

      ok, I was referred here from another site to try to get it to boot from the USB drive. Im not even looking to reinstall Windows, just dont understand why i cant get around this error. Im assuming id have it fixed by now if the damn thing had an internal cdrom drive..thanks

  16. Goran B.
    December 23, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    Excellent. I've tried different methods, but this one actually worked. Thanks.

  17. Azra
    June 18, 2012 at 5:59 am

    Hi,
    Such a clear and to the point tutorial, good one, thanks James. I had a problem, when I try to entering the code H:/BOOT/BOOTSECT.EXE /NT60 G:, then this message came... "H:/BOOT/BOOTSECT.EXE" is not recognized as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file. ...

    The disc I used is an .iso file that I mount with DT lite, is that the problem why it can't be done ?

    • James Bruce
      June 18, 2012 at 7:54 am

      I suspect you're trying to use one of those all-in-one ISOs where many different versions of the instal are included on one disk. I don't have one to check, but have a look at the folder structure , probably you need to add another folder after H:/ before you find the executable. Alternatively, download a regular version, not all-in-one.

      Oh, I assume H:/ is actually your virtual drive, right?

  18. Armin
    June 9, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    thanks for this tutorial, Bruce! I used your method to prepare a harddisk (in an external USB case) for WIN7 installation in a Portege M200 and it worked flawlessly. Probably the simplest way to install an operating system on this machine without CD or DVD drive.

  19. Thomas Bridges
    May 24, 2012 at 6:11 am

    Worked like a charm on the first try! Well done and many thanks :) This brought my laptop back to life after a disk drive failure.

  20. Jeremy
    May 22, 2012 at 9:11 am

    I did everything and it was successful, however when it came to loading on the target PC it came up with disk read error.. hence, no good for me :-(

    Don't know what else to do..

    • muotechguy
      May 22, 2012 at 9:23 am

      That means your computer probably can't boot off USB unfortunately.

  21. Mitar
    April 29, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Great tutorial.
    If you are ever having problems with the default Microsoft USB-DVD tool, this method works great.

  22. Tanveer
    April 27, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    Guys help me Plz.
    I have sony Vaio Laptop.I have problem With my laptop SuperDrive.its not working.and i want to install window from usb.Now problem is that my laptop dosn't have the Usb Boot option.still is there anyway to insall the window...
    Help plz...

    • muotechguy
      May 3, 2012 at 8:22 pm

      Sorry Tanveer, you could try upgrading the BIOS but I doubt it would add the ability to boot from USB. However you look at it, you need the cd drive working.

    • Param
      June 14, 2012 at 10:27 am

      instal usb dvd rom that easy way to install window........ another use usb hdd in ur bios .
      \

  23. James Bruce
    February 14, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Sure, much easier. But again, the whole point was to do this without additional software. Thanks for the link anyway, but I believe MS also released their own even *easier* tool for making install disks. 

  24. Andy
    February 13, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    Hi, I got through formatting the drive and assigning it a letter. Once I attempt to make it bootable I receive "Could not map drive partitions to the associated volume device objects: Access is denied." Any tips to move on?

    • James Bruce
      February 14, 2012 at 12:11 pm

      Hi Andy. I haven't experienced this myself, but it sounds like you haven't run CMD prompt as as administrator, or perhaps the EXIT command is pushing you out of admin mode? 

      Even if you have already, close it down, and reopen as administrator and try that step again. That should do the trick.

  25. James Bruce
    January 30, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Both are additional utilities. Yes, much easier though. 

  26. Larry Sessions
    December 22, 2011 at 2:22 am

    This is great, but is there any hope for someone who has a PC (with a legal copy of Windows) but not an installation disk. My PC (HP, x64) came with Windows 7 (home deluxe) installed, but no disk. I would like to have something just in case, but for now all I have are the emergency disks they let you burn.

    • James Bruce
      December 22, 2011 at 8:31 am

      Ahh, Larry. That is a sorry situation. The legalities of it are murky, since the license is OEM and technically you aren't allowed to do a clean install, I believe. That being sent, if you can just write your licence key, and download a iso of windows 7 retail install, I'm fairly certain it would activate with your license key just fine, but I couldn't promise anything. In that kind of situation, I would personally be tempted just to install and run Daz Loader to remove activation 'feature' anyway, as you obviously have a licence and aren't stealing anything. 

      • Starman
        December 22, 2011 at 3:54 pm

        Thanks, James. Next time I buy a PC I will be sure it comes with the installation CD!

  27. Anomaly
    December 21, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    All the command line work is not really necessary. All you have done is format a USB drive as one NTFS partition with a boot flag and copied the files from the DVD on to it. I use Gparted to do this with no command line necessary. Also works for making a bootable USB for the Windows 7 Recovery Disc.

    • James Bruce
      December 22, 2011 at 8:36 am

      The whole point was to do this without using external software - though admittedly that part got edited out of my original title. It's not really a case of only having made a single active NTFS partition, because most no USB sticks come formatted like that and therefore it's a fairly essential step. And if I'd have just written "step 1: go ahead and make a single ntfs formatted active partition with the boot flag set" , how many readers do you think would have understood that?

      Gparted is a live usb/cd app anyway, so that's another download and usb live cd creation that would have been needed before I could use that method. Why fuss around when it's built into windows?  

      Anyway, thanks for the tip. I dont use gparted myself, but I'm sure it will come in handy for other windows users who need to regularly mess with partitions. Windows is decidedly lacking in that area - even the built in partition manager refuses to load 9 out of 10 times on my machine. 

  28. Peter
    December 21, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    Some other tips:

    After you enter the SELECT DISK # command, re-enter LIST DISK and you should see an asterisk next to the disk you selected. Double check that this is the correct disk, because using DISKPART is an easy way to really mess up your disks if you aren't careful.

    There really is no need to use the SELECT PARTITION command in this case. After you clean the disk and create a primary partition using all the available space, there will only be one partition. There is no need to specifically select it.

    As long as you know the drive is good, you can save a lot of time by doing a quick format. On the format step enter FORMAT FS=NTFS QUICK.

    • James Bruce
      December 22, 2011 at 8:36 am

      Awesome tip, thanks peter!w

  29. Peter
    December 21, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    FWIW, I have done this many times with many machines and I have never needed to use the BOOTSECT command.  I just follow the DISKPART steps and then copy the files to the drive.  Every machine I have tested has booted up from the USB drive made that way.

  30. Noob
    December 21, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    can you please explain how to make an UEFI usb boot disk

  31. ajay kumar
    December 21, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    hey,
    I have another BEST and easy way to make USB bootable Windows 7.......
    Nothing to do.....
    Step 1: Explore your Windows 7 DVD or ISO File( in case of ISO file just mount is using any utility like Nero or PowerISO...even u can use trial version of these)
    Step 2: Now copy all files including Hindden files and paste it on your formatted 4 GB( or more ) pendrive
    Step 3: Restart your PC and go to BIOS and select USB as a first boot device then save and quit
    Step 4: Your PC will boot with USB and now you can install or repair your Windows 7 faster than any DVD installation ......  enjoy......
    I have installed this way.....  :-)

    • yethz
      December 22, 2011 at 3:04 am

      Nice Tip! I may try that if I need a USB Windows 7 disk.. Thanks and that's really easy than using CMD's ;)

    • James Bruce
      December 22, 2011 at 8:49 am

      That would work only if your USB drive was already bootable with NTFS partition. Otherwise you need to enter those commands. Why do you think I would publish a whole article on the topic if it was that simple?

      • Kelly
        December 27, 2011 at 2:55 pm

        I am having a problem after formatting the usb. The DVD drive is D: and the usb is F: on my computer. At the prompt I typed

        D:BOOT/BOOTSECT.EXE/NT60 F:

        When I enter the boot command i get "the directory name is invalid" message. Can you tell me how to work through it? Thanks!

        • James Bruce
          December 27, 2011 at 3:02 pm

          Yep, leave a space after the .EXE part

          ;)

        • Kelly
          December 27, 2011 at 3:10 pm

          i'm a noob who is not wearing my glasses! Thank you!!!

      • Maaza
        June 11, 2012 at 10:12 am

        i dont have windows 7 dvd but i have the entire windows 7 files which i copied from the DVD onto my computer hard disk but now that DVD is lost and all i have is the whole files of that DVD.
        So can i still create bootable win7 usb with win7 files. i dont have win7 iso image either.So please tell me the procedure by which i can create win7 bootable usb on a computer that runs on xp and have no DVD or iso image.
        In xp when i type list disk it shows only " Disk 0 " ie my fixed hard disk
        it doesnt find or locate my usb removable disk. why ?

      • Maaza
        June 11, 2012 at 10:23 am

        i dont have windows 7 DVD since i lost it but i have the whole windows 7 files on my computer hard disk which i copied from win7 dvd before i lost it.
        So can i still create a win7 bootable usb with win7 files on a computer that runs on xp 2 coz when i type list disk it shows only 'Disk 0' i.e my fixed hard disk. It doesnt show my removable usb disk.
        So can you please tell me the procedure by which i can create bootable win7 usb from a following resource :
        8 gb usb , windows 7 setup files , OS - xp 2 !

        • muotechguy
          June 11, 2012 at 10:25 am

          Sorry, not possible. You need the ISO to do this. If you have a valid license key, just download a torrent of the ISO.

        • Maaza
          June 11, 2012 at 1:09 pm

          What if i create an ISO image of my windows 7 backup files ? i have a tool which can create files or folder to ISO.

    • Rubel
      February 3, 2012 at 1:37 pm

      For multi boot usb flash drive visit this link http://making-a-bootable-usb.blogspot.com/2012/01/make-usb-bootable-windows-7.html

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