How-to install Windows 7 from an USB stick

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Why install from an USB stick?
You can easily install Windows 7 the default-way (from a bootable dvd), but why choose for the easy way if you can install it from an USB stick. If you want to install Windows 7 on a netbook probably the only way to install it is via an USB stick. I really prefer install Windows 7 from a DVD, because you don’t have to burn another dvd when a new build arrives :-). Another thing to choose for an USB installation : You can easily add additional files (or installations) to your usb stick, as long there’s space enough!

What do I need?
There are just three things you need:

  • PC with USB boot-support (just a modern pc that is)
  • Windows 7 installation files
  • USB stick with at least 4 GB free space

What steps do I need to follow?
Just follow the steps below to create your own bootable Windows 7 USB stick.

  1. Plug in your USB
  2. Open Command Prompt with admin rights (Start –> enter cmd –> press CTRL-SHIFT+ENTER and just click Yes at the UAC prompt
  3. Run Diskpart by typing diskpart and press enter image
  4. Now type List disk (and press enter). My USB stick is Disk 9 in the screenshot below. Just enter the next commands (from step 5) where I assume that your usb stick is also Disk 9. If your USB stick is Disk 2, just use Disk 2 instead of my Disk 9! image
  5. Enter the following commands just one by one, each followed by Enter:
    • Select Disk 9
    • Clean
    • Create Partition Primary
    • Select Partition 1
    • Active
    • Format FS=FAT32 (depending on the size of your USB stick this can take a moment)
    • Assign
    • Exit
  6. Now copy the entire content of your Windows 7 DVD (or Windows 7 source folder, if you extracted the ISO) to the root of your USB stick. At the end you should see the following content on your USB stick.
    image
  7. Now we still have to make the USB stick bootable.
    Note: If you are currently running a 64-bit OS and the source (on the USB stick) is 32-bit, you can’t run the following command. Just be sure the source (on the USB stick) and the currently running OS are of the same type!
  8. In the Command Prompt (which you didn’t close, I hope) type P: (followed by Enter)
    Where P: is the drive letter of your USB stick!
  9. Type CDBoot followed by Enter
  10. To create a bootsector on the USB stick now enter Bootsect /NT60 P: followed by Enter.
    image
    When you receive a message which looks like mine (in the screenshot above) then you can boot from your USB stick.
  11. Reboot your pc and change the boot order (in the BIOS) if needed, so the USB stick is first in the boot order.