Install Windows from a USB Flash Drive

You can install Windows on a device without a DVD drive by using a USB flash drive.

Note

If you're looking for a tool that downloads Windows 10 and creates a bootable USB Windows installation drive, see Download Windows 10.

This topic covers how to create a bootable Windows installation USB drive from a Windows 10 install .iso or DVD.

What you need

  • Windows 10 install .iso or DVD
  • USB flash drive with at least 5GB free space. This drive will be formatted, so make sure it doesn't have any important files on it.
  • Technician PC - Windows PC that you'll use to format the USB flash drive
  • Destination PC - A PC that you'll install Windows on

Step 1 - Format the drive and set the primary partition as active

  1. Connect the USB flash drive to your technician PC.

  2. Open Disk Management: Right-click on Start and choose Disk management.

  3. Format the partition: Right-click the USB drive partition and choose Format. Select the FAT32 file system to be able to boot either BIOS-based or UEFI-based PCs. The default install.wim is smaller than the 4 GB file size limit of FAT32.

  4. Set the partition as active: Right-click the USB drive partition and click Mark Partition as Active.

Step 2 - Copy Windows Setup to the USB flash drive

  1. Use File Explorer to copy and paste the entire contents of the Windows product DVD or ISO to the USB flash drive.

  2. Optional: add an unattend file or a configuration set to automate the installation process. For more information, see Automate Windows Setup.

Step 3 - Install Windows to the new PC

  1. Connect the USB flash drive to a new PC.

  2. Turn on the PC and press the key that opens the boot-device selection menu for the computer, such as the Esc/F10/F12 keys. Select the option that boots the PC from the USB flash drive.

    Windows Setup starts. Follow the instructions to install Windows.

  3. Remove the USB flash drive.

Related topics

Windows Setup Technical Reference