How to install Windows from a USB drive

Windows 7 (and other OS’s can be installed in this manner); I’m sure you’ve seen one of the many posts on this before – this isn’t new, but I’m logging it here as I still get asked how to do this on a regular basis.

  1. Take a USB device and make a 32GB partition (use a smaller value if you like). 
  2. From the command line run diskpart.exe then type:
    • list disk [to show the disks and find the newly created 32GB, remember the <number> ]
    • select disk <number>
    • clean (optional)
    • create partition primary
    • select partition <number>
    • active
    • format fs=fat32
    • assign
    • exit
  3. Copy the files from a Windows installation DVD or from a ISO to the new partition with xcopy or drag and drop them
  4. Then I’ve often needed to use the bootsect.exe utility from the \boot folder on the installation DVD as well to make the drive bootable.  Type:

 bootsect /nt60 <harddrive>:

Now just plug it in and boot your machine (you may have to change the BIOS so that the USB device is 1st in the boot order or press a key to load up the boot device selection screen – varies per model)