How To Install Windows 8 From A USB Stick

Chris Hoffman 22-10-2012

install windows 8 from usbIf you’re looking to install Windows 8 Five Surprising Facts About Windows 8 Windows 8 is full of surprising changes – whatever you think about Windows 8, Microsoft certainly isn’t being timid this time around. From integrated antivirus protection and less-disruptive updating to the removal of the Windows... Read More and your computer doesn’t have a DVD drive, you’re not alone. Whether you have a Windows 8 DVD or a Windows 8 ISO file you’ve downloaded from Microsoft, you can use a free Microsoft tool to copy the Windows 8 installation files to a USB drive 7 Uses for a USB Stick You Didn't Know About You've used USB sticks to transport files between computers and back up files, but there is much more you can do with a USB stick. Read More and install Windows 8 from the USB drive.


We’ll be using Microsoft’s official “Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool” for this. Don’t let the name deceive you – it’s not just for Windows 7, it also works with Windows 8. You’ll need a USB drive that’s at least 4 GB in size for Windows 8’s installer to fit on it. The contents of the USB drive will be erased by this process, so back up any important files The Windows Backup and Restore Guide Disasters happen. Unless you're willing to lose your data, you need a good Windows backup routine. We'll show you how to prepare backups and restore them. Read More first.

Create a Windows 8 ISO File

To copy Windows 8 to a USB stick, you’ll first need to create an ISO file from the Windows 8 disc. If you already have a Windows 8 ISO file you’ve downloaded from Microsoft, you’re good to go. If not, you can use one of these free applications to create an ISO file No DVD Drive? No Problem! Create And Mount ISO Files For Free With These Tools My computer doesn’t have any optical drives anymore. That means CD drives, DVD drives, Floppy drives--they’ve all been cut out and done away with forever. If a particular piece of peripheral gear doesn’t have a... Read More . Install the program, insert the Windows 8 disc into a computer’s disc drive, and use the program to create an ISO file from it.

Download & Run Microsoft’s Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool

You’ll now need to download Microsoft’s free Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool. Don’t worry about its name – it’ll work with Windows 8.

Launch the tool after installing it and browse to the Windows 8 ISO image you created or downloaded from Microsoft.

install windows 8 from usb


Select the USB device media type to continue.

install windows 8 from flash drive

Ensure your USB drive is connected to your computer and select it in the list. Remember, the USB drive must have at least 4 GB of free space and its contents will be erased.

install windows 8 from flash drive


The tool will now format your USB drive, make it bootable, and copy the Windows 8 installer files to it. This will take several minutes. You’ll see the message “Backup completed” when the tool is finished.

install windows 8 from flash drive

Install Windows 8

You can now install Windows 8 from the USB drive. If you want to install Windows 8 on a computer that currently has Windows on it, you can insert the USB drive into the computer, browse to the USB drive in Windows Explorer, and launch the setup.exe program on it. This will start the installation process. If you have Windows 7 installed, you can opt to perform an upgrade instead of a clean reinstall that deletes all your files.

install windows 8 from usb


If you have a computer without Windows installed on it, you’ll need to boot the computer from the USB drive. Insert the USB drive into your computer, then restart it. It should automatically boot from the USB drive, starting the Windows 8 installation process.

If this doesn’t happen automatically, you’ll need to change the boot order in your BIOS. Press the key that appears when you turn your computer on (often Delete or F2), locate the Boot Order section in your BIOS, and increase the priority of your USB drive so that the computer will try to boot from the USB drive. Save your settings and exit the BIOS after changing this option. For more detailed instructions on accessing your BIOS and changing the boot order, consult your computer’s manual (or your motherboard’s manual, if you built your own computer How To Build Your Own PC It's very gratifying to build your own PC; as well as intimidating. But the process itself is actually quite simple. We'll walk you through everything you need to know. Read More ). Different computers use different BIOSes that have different interfaces and require different key presses to open.

After going through this process, you’ll be able to install Windows 8 from a USB drive just as you could from a DVD – the USB drive will behave exactly like an installer DVD and offer the usual upgrade and clean install options. You can insert the drive into any computer and use it to install Windows 8. It would be convenient if Microsoft offered better support for this and didn’t require that we download a tool designed for Windows 7 The Windows 7: Ultimate Guide If you are afraid to upgrade from Vista or XP because you feel it is completely different to what you are used to, you should read this new guide. Read More , but the process is fairly easy.

Related topics: USB, USB Drive, Windows 8.

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  1. steve
    January 7, 2015 at 8:09 am

    I'm using asus UL20a and windows 8 installer (from usb) failed to recognize my hdd due to missing hdd driver. I cant found anything in web (nor at asus site)
    Do you know where i can download driver . thx

  2. yaz
    January 14, 2013 at 10:39 am

    thax sweet heart!!!!!! :*

  3. Klemen
    January 12, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    Im having a problem here , i bought new computer for about 1500 euros with no windows 8. i have USB drive and windows 8 on it. When i turn on compuier my display doesnt turn on so i cant see any button for goin into windows, How the hell am i supposed to install windows 8 on my new computer , it doesnt want to automatically install it on.Please help.

  4. Suvadeep Paul
    December 5, 2012 at 8:15 am

    Helpful topic..

  5. Morpheus
    November 16, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    Hi Chris

    thanks for this Tuto, really useful indeed. It does'nt seems to me that we have choice of partition.I want to install Win 8 in dual boot with Win 7 (C: partition) having a free 7 Go partition (D:).

    thanks in advance for yout help


  6. Simon
    November 15, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    Hi. Thanks for this guide, but I always come up with the message "Files copied successfully. However, we were unable to run bootsect to make the USB device bootable" I tried different USB sticks, but the same thing happens. Do you have an idea why?

    • Simon
      November 15, 2012 at 10:31 pm

      Never mind. I tried it with my other laptop and it worked. Thanks for this guide! Installing from a USB device is way faster than installing from a DVD.

  7. yaniv
    November 8, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    great article its just answer all my question:-)

  8. Jeremiah Iliffe
    October 28, 2012 at 7:33 am

    This will be really useful with all the ultrabooks

  9. Yudono Ra
    October 24, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    neat tricks, eventough i'm not migrating to Win 8 anytime soon :)

  10. Martynas Vareikis
    October 23, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    I Use WinUSB for that.

  11. Alex Perkins
    October 23, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Yay, can finally get round to putting Windows 8 on the netbook. Thanks.

  12. musicrab
    October 23, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Installing from a bootable DVD or USB to virgin disk. Apart from entering the win8pro key id when requested, is there anything else that will stop doing this clean install of win8Pro Upgrade? IE this is the way to create a clean install of Win8Pro Upgrade.

    I thought the destination partition had to have XP SP3, Vista or W7?

    • Chris Hoffman
      October 27, 2012 at 11:09 pm

      I don't think anything will stop you, as far as I know.

  13. Raj Sarkar
    October 23, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Thanks for this great article! :D

  14. Mark Silos
    October 23, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    How about multi-installer??

  15. Douglas Mutay
    October 23, 2012 at 9:27 am

    Very usefull. Didn't know it could work with Win 8 as well. Thanks

  16. DevilTroll
    October 23, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Also u can do the same from GNU/Linux with dd comand:

    dd if=/path/to/image.iso of=/dev/sdb

    Or better, get rid off that nasty system and move to GNU/Linux

  17. Malkhaz Abuladze
    October 23, 2012 at 7:32 am

    thanks for info. Really very useful for me

  18. salim benhouhou
    October 23, 2012 at 7:19 am

    awesome article thank you Chris

  19. Prateek Kumar Rajput
    October 23, 2012 at 6:59 am

    Or alternately, try the Windows To Go feature..

    • Chris Hoffman
      October 27, 2012 at 11:08 pm

      Sadly, this only works on Windows 8 Enterprise.

  20. Boni Oloff
    October 23, 2012 at 6:52 am

    Great tut, now everybody can install in their netbook.

    • Chris Hoffman
      October 27, 2012 at 11:07 pm

      Ultrabooks and even some new desktops are coming without optical disc drives, too! It's only a matter of time before they're extinct like floppy disk drives.

      • Boni Oloff
        October 29, 2012 at 1:45 am

        Yap, many new technology seems will make CD drive useless.. Like internet where we can get content just with music store, app store, etc.. :)

  21. Anandu B Ajith
    October 23, 2012 at 6:32 am

    Getting A Windows 8 ISO How Any Download Links
    Giveaway Of Windows 8 Product Keys

    • Chris Hoffman
      October 27, 2012 at 11:08 pm

      Well, if you buy Windows from Microsoft, you can get an ISO from them.

      • walid
        November 29, 2012 at 8:38 pm

        I have a macbook air, I tried to look for an iso from microsoft and couldn't find it. All there is is a an upgrade software and I don't have any other copy of windows.

  22. Himanshu Singla
    October 23, 2012 at 6:15 am

    There is an other alternative without this tool.

    • Chris Hoffman
      October 27, 2012 at 11:07 pm

      What's the alternative?

  23. Anonymous
    October 23, 2012 at 1:26 am

    It would be nice if we can run the Windows 8 OS from the USB itself (may be a USB with a bigger capacity instead of the 4GB) instead of installing it on the PC's hard disk.

    • Muhammad Shahrukh Khan
      October 23, 2012 at 9:30 am

      You can use this method to create a Windows 8 live USB:

      • Chris Hoffman
        October 27, 2012 at 11:06 pm

        Hopefully that will work. Microsoft officially supports this with the Windows To Go feature, but that's only for Windows 8 Enterprise.

  24. Dino Pearsons
    October 23, 2012 at 12:46 am

    People keep asking me this. Now I can point them to this article. Thanks for that. :)

  25. Siddhant Chaurasia
    October 23, 2012 at 12:34 am

    Wow now I dont have to waste money on buying a cd