How to Create Windows 10 Installation Media

Gavin Phillips 10-03-2016

Whether you arrived at Windows 10 through a dedicated upgrade 10 Compelling Reasons to Upgrade to Windows 10 Windows 10 is coming on July 29. Is it worth upgrading for free? If you are looking forward to Cortana, state of the art gaming, or better support for hybrid devices - yes, definitely! And... Read More or — in case you were not eligible for a free upgrade Is Your Computer Compatible with Windows 10 & Can You Upgrade? Windows 10 is coming, possibly as soon as July. Are you eager to upgrade and will your system be eligible? In short, if your computer runs Windows 8, it should also run Windows 10. But... Read More from Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 How to Downgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 7 or 8.1 Windows 10 is here and maybe it's not what you expected. If you already upgraded, you can perform a rollback. And if you haven't yet, create a system backup first. We show you how. Read More  — purchased a shiny new Windows 10 license to upgrade to The Ultimate Windows 10 Activation & License FAQ One of the big confusions surrounding Windows 10 concerns its licensing and activation. This FAQ will shed some light, explain what has changed with Windows 10 version 1511 (Fall Update), and translate activation-related error codes. Read More , eventually you will have to restore or reset Windows 10 How to Factory Reset Windows 10 or Use System Restore Learn how System Restore and Factory Reset can help you survive any Windows 10 disasters and recover your system. Read More .


There are now a whole host of ways to install Windows 10 How to Install Windows 10 for Free on any Windows, Linux, or OS X PC You don't have to upgrade to Windows 10 to try it. Whether you qualify for the free upgrade or want to try Windows 10 on Linux or OS X, you can evaluate it for free. Read More , and we’ve covered a comprehensive selection of how you can create your own installation media.

1. Windows Media Creation Tool

The first and most obvious choice for creating Windows 10 installation media is the Windows Media Creation Tool. This application allows you to get the Home or Pro versions of Windows 10, and you can pick from the 32-bit or 64-bit version What's the Difference Between 32-Bit and 64-Bit Windows? What's the difference between 32-bit and 64-bit Windows? Here's a simple explanation and how to check which version you have. Read More  for both. Following your selections, you can choose to install directly to a USB drive, or download a single or dual use ISO to install to a disc at a later time.

Download the Windows Media Creation Tool. Once downloaded, run the application and select Create installation media for another PC. Windows 10 will download within the application, ready for you to choose your version, system architecture, and which versions you’d like to include in your Windows 10 installation media.

Windows 10 Media Creation Tool ISO

If you choose to install directly to a USB or disc, follow the onscreen instructions to complete your installation. If you’re installing further down the line, read the next section.


Windows 10 Media Creation Tool Architecture

Without the Help of Microsoft?

If you’d like to press on without the Windows Media Creation Tool, Microsoft has made provision. The Windows 10 Tech Bench Upgrade Program [No Longer Available] allows us to download both 32-bit and 64-bit ISOs of Windows 10 without using their download and creation tool. There is no indication that the versions downloaded here or using the Media Creation Tool are in any way different, so it really is down to personal preference.

2. Make Your Own Bootable Media

If you opted to download your ISO to install at a later date, this is the section for you. Let’s take a quick look at how to transfer that ISO to a USB or a disc.

USB Installation Media

Now you have your shiny new ISO, you need to create some bootable media. I’ll be using Rufus to create our bootable USB. It is a tiny, free application, and scores relatively well among similar applications with more extensive features Create a Bootable USB From an ISO With These 10 Tools Want to create a bootable USB drive from an ISO file? We've got the ten best bootable USB pendrive creators around. Read More . For the purpose of this installation, we only need to create a bootable disk, so go ahead and download Rufus.


Once downloaded, open the application. Select the Device you’d like to install to. Now, head to the button highlighted in the below image. This opens a File Explorer window for you to locate your Windows 10 ISO. Once you’ve found it, select Open. Rufus should now automatically update the information for you.

Rufus Windows 10 Installation Media

Double-check the Partition type is set to MBR partition scheme for BIOS or UEFI-CSM, the file system is NTFS, and your cluster size should be set to 4096 bytes. Also ensure the option to Create a bootable disk is actually checked. It should have automatically selected when you chose the Windows 10 ISO. Set an appropriate volume label, e.g. Windows 10 64-bit ISO, and then you can press Start.

Rufus will take care of the rest. Go and make a cup of tea, and come back in about 15 minutes.


Disc Installation Media

You don’t have to use a USB to create your installation media. Many people prefer the traditional disc approach, and there are numerous free applications to help you get the job done. For this example, I’m going to use ImgBurn.

Once downloaded, install and open the application. Select Write image file to disc. Select the folder icon as highlighted in the image below.

ImgBurn Windows 10 Installation Media

This will open the File Explorer window 10 Little Known Features of Windows File Explorer Don’t let Windows File Explorer fool you with its plain looks. It’s capable of many more actions and tweaks than it lets on! Let us show you a bunch of them. Read More , where you can select your Windows 10 ISO. ImgBurn should take care of the vitals, much the same as Rufus, but check the Imp ID is for a Microsoft CDIMAGE UDF, and it clearly states Bootable next to File Sys.


ImgBurn Windows 10 Installation Media Details

Make sure the disc you’re burning to has enough free space. Ideally, use a new disc. Finally, set your Write Speed. MAX sets the maximum speed available to your drive. If the write fails, you can always try setting a slower write speed. Now you’re ready to burn!

3. Unattended Windows 10 Installation

If you’re pressed for time, heading out for the evening, or simply have other tasks to get on with while installing Windows 10, you could try an unattended install. An unattended install is as it sounds: you have no input during the installation. All it takes is a little setting up beforehand.

I will be creating a bootable USB for this part of the article.

First off, we’ll need to generate an Autounattend.xml answer file. This answer file will be included in our bootable USB, and will “answer” the questions throughout the Windows 10 installation.

Head to the Windows Answer File Generator. Enter your product key, and choose which options you’d like to include, such as accepting the EULA, skipping automatic activation, skipping the license rearm, the setup language, entering your computer name, keyboard language and input, whether to use express privacy and sharing settings, and a handful of other options.

Windows Answer Generator General Settings

Next, we’ll deal with partition settings. We must be sure to select the right settings, or it could end rather badly.

To begin, decide if you are performing a clean install or upgrading your system. If you’re opting for a clean install, change the Wipe Disk option to Yes. Select the number of the disk to install to. If you’re unsure of the disk number, head to Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Computer Management > Disk Management. Note the disk number and the partition number. Use my image as a reference:

Windows Answer Generator General Settings Partition Settings

I will be installing to disk 0. Select Yes to Main Partition Active. Ensure your Main Partition Format is NTFS. Set a name for your Main Partition Label. Make sure your Main Partition Letter matches the Partition Order, e.g. my C: partition is equivalent of partition order number two.

Windows Disk Management

Finally, enter your User Account information, including a User Name, whether you’d like UAC enabled Stop Annoying UAC Prompts - How To Create A User Account Control Whitelist [Windows] Ever since Vista, we Windows users have been pestered, bugged, annoyed, and tired of the User Account Control (UAC) prompt telling us a program is starting up that we intentionally launched. Sure, it has improved,... Read More , and whether you’d like your account to Auto-Logon. You’re all set!

Scroll down to the console box. Download your Autounattend.xml file using the Download File located underneath the box.

Windows Answer Generator General Settings XML Download

To complete the creation of your unattended Windows 10 installation media, follow the Bootable USB section we covered earlier in the article. When the USB is finalized, copy the Autounattend.xml to the root of the USB, alongside the installation files. The next time you need to install Windows 10, the entire process will be automated, leaving you free to drink tea and eat scones.

You’re Ready to Install

Be it through the official Windows Media Creation Tool, bootable USB or disc, you should be ready for a clean installation of Windows 10. Before commencing with your clean install, please make sure to back up any important files How to Create an ISO Image of Your Windows System Need to backup and restore Windows without backup tools? It's time to learn how to make an ISO image of your Windows PC. Read More to a safe location – not the same drive you’ll be installing to!

It is easier than ever to install Windows 10. Are there any techniques we have missed other readers might benefit from? Let us know below!

Related topics: Install Software, ISO, Windows 10.

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  1. Brian Smith
    May 13, 2017 at 12:17 am

    I purchased a new computer with Windows 10 installed. I do not therefore have a product key per se (unless it is buried somewhere within the idiosyncrasies of the computer. Can I still make a bootable USB?

    • Gavin Phillips
      May 17, 2017 at 10:42 am

      Brian, it is indeed "buried somewhere within the idiosyncrasies of the computer." You most likely have an OEM version of Windows. The license key is directly linked to the hardware it was sold with. You can use the Microsoft Media Creation Tool to create a bootable backup disc/USB drive, but it will not work with another system with different hardware. However, you can use it to perform a full clean install if you have a new system with unwanted bloatware and the like.

    • Rachael Preston
      February 22, 2019 at 6:33 pm

      Hi Brian,
      This is a late reply to your question but you can use utilities like Belarc to capture the key for Windows 10, along with much other valuable information about your system.

  2. Jan Brøndum Johansson
    April 9, 2017 at 12:37 am

    This article only works for windows users, how about expanding it a bit and make a guide on how to make an Windows 10 USB stick from within Ubuntu.

    After that an article on how to make an UEFI bootable Ubuntu 16.xx USB stick with persistent from within Ubuntu 14.04 LTS would be nice, I have spent months and tried all the guides and tools available and the only thing that worked for me were dd utility - but that one makes the USB read only filesystem so you cannot make it persistent. Not even Ubuntu's own Startup Disc Creator worked, 16.04 and 16.10 hangs on boot.

    Last, an article on how to install Ubuntu 16.xx onto a UEFI GPT partitioned laptop with pre-installed Windows 10, would help allot. Tried the normal way, by booting Ubuntu 16.04 from above mentioned USB and install it - that screws up Windows partitioning and you have to repair Windows afterwards. Plus you never get a proper grub menu entry for Windows 10 - the menu entry does not boot to windows but to recovery. If you are lucky then your UEFI bios has Windows boot manger entry in its own bootmanager and you can boot from there.

    • Gavin Phillips
      May 17, 2017 at 10:39 am

      Sorry to disappoint, Jan. It is specifically for Windows users, in the Windows section of the site. I made no reference to Linux...however, I'll pass the interesting article ideas onto the Linux editor and hopefully something useful will come from it.

      Did you ever find a solution to your problems?

  3. John
    September 25, 2016 at 3:43 am

    The tech bench website is not available: it says:
    We are sorry, the page you requested cannot be found.
    So somehow MS has blocked the download of ISO files for Windows10.