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Technical Evangelist - Windows Infrastructure

Windows 7: Setting up a USB bootable device for installs

Windows 7: Setting up a USB bootable device for installs

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These days I install, re-install and install Windows 7 again and I wanted a quicker way of doing this without having to use a DVD all the time.  Plus I wanted to be able to install x64 and x86 for both server and client.  And I have a HP Mini 2140 on loan which of course does not have a DVD drive.  So enter the humble USB key to solve this task.

You will need at least a 4GB USB key to fit the entire contents of the Windows 7 DVD.  In Australia you can pick these up for under $25 now so it’s not a huge outlay.  We have a bunch in the office as part of a promotion so I have one for x86 and x64.  So the next thing you are going to need to do is format this disk using DISKPART.  Follow the steps below:

  1. Insert the Windows 7 DVD into the optical drive on your computer.
  2. Insert the USB drive and make sure you can see it in explorer.
  3. Run DISKPART – I’ll use screenshots to explain the rest of the steps.
  • At a command prompt type DISKPART

diskpart1

  • Now before you do anything else make sure you have inserted the USB drive and you can see it in explorer.

diskpart2

  • Type LIST DISK to see a list of available disks

diskpart3

  • Type SELECT DISK 3 ( in my case it happens to be disk 3)

diskpart4

  • Type CLEAN which will wipe the disk

diskpart5

  • Type CREATE PARTITION PRIMARY

diskpart6

  • Type SELECT PARTITION 1

diskpart7

  • Type ACTIVE to make this partition the active partition.

diskpart8

  • Type FORMAT FS=FAT32 (wait for it to get to 100% complete)

diskpart9

Type ASSIGN so a drive letter gets assigned in explorer.

diskpart10

Now you should have a USB disk ready for the Windows 7 source files.  If you have the DVD load that into your DVD drive and copy the entire contents to the root of the USB drive.  Once that is done you will have a bootable USB disk ready for you to build your machines much much faster with Windows 7.

I find this a useful and quick way to get machines build and it’s portable as well!

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Jeffa

Comments
  • PingBack from http://australia.linkedz.info/2009/04/22/windows-7-setting-up-a-usb-bootable-device-for-installs/

  • Windows 7 Release candidate will be available to MSDN and TechNet Plus Subscribers on April 30th. 

  • Hi,

    I'd like to know how to do this if you still have XP as your original system and not VISTA?

    cheers

    MM

  • Would the speed of the USB drive matter?

    I have a 4GB Kingston that is quite slow -- copying files to the USB would only max out at around 3MB/sec.

  • Thanks for the tutorial - it worked perfectly as advertised.

    On a similar note - can you actually install Windows 7 onto a bootable usb stick? I work with virtual machines a bit for testing and whatnot and it'd be pretty handy to have use a usb key with windows 7 on it that worked across different hardware.

    Ideally i'd like to be able to take it with me between a couple of machines with fairly similar hardware - if i had the drivers slipstreamed in would that work?

  • @mad monkey.  You can download DiskPart for XP from microsoft's website.  Its a free "Genuine Advantage" tool I believe (IE you can download it so long as your copy of XP passes as legal)

    @everyone else.  I have tried this on a number of different USB Sticks on a Compaq PC, it doesnt seem to work on Compaqs as it reads USB Sticks as USB FDD's.

    Also, you might have better luck with NTFS formatted USB stick (yea yea I know your not ment to do that, but its ok for this).  Format the USB stick as NTFS, copy all the files from the root of the DVD to the USB stick, then goto a command prompt

    [USB stick letter]:\

    cd boot

    BOOTSECT /nt60 [your USB Drive letter]:

    (E.G. "BOOTSECT /nt60 G:")

    Then boot from USB.

  • Te ha pasado que quieres instalar Windows 7 RC en una laptop o PC pero te encuentras con que no tienen

  • thank you. i will try follow to make.

  • Also, you might have better luck with NTFS formatted USB stick (yea yea I know your not ment to do that, but its ok for this).  Format the USB stick as NTFS, copy all the files from the root of the DVD to the USB stick, then goto a command prompt

    [USB stick letter]:\

    cd boot

    BOOTSECT /nt60 [your USB Drive letter]:

    (E.G. "BOOTSECT /nt60 G:")

    Then boot from USB.

  • Tried this on a 500 Gb Hard Drive came up with an error say size to big and now Hard Drive doesn't work anymore. At what point is a Hard Drive to big?

  • 256gb shud be ur limit for these type of thingys, try a pen drive, its quick to format nd works flawlessly.

  • what do you mean by the "root" of the usb drive

  • My 64G was to big to format.

  • Load the ISO? uo unpack?

  • Is there a free utility recommended for the extraction of ISO to USB?

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