Windows 7 How to Install Windows 7 from a USB Drive


New Member
Feb 7, 2008
Step by step tutorial. Took me about 6 minutes.
Installs from a flash drive tend to take about 75% of the time it takes with a DVD. On my C2Q Q6600 it meant 20 mins instead of 29.
This is for those who are having issues with running from a DVD, or just want to try it out/get it done faster.

Note: Back up the files from your USB drive, as it WILL get formatted in this process and all data on it will be lost!

1. Get a USB Drive, it must be at least 4 GB.

2. Plug the drive into your PC.

3. Open a command prompt as administrator. (Right click, Open as Admin, or Ctrl+Shift+Click)

4. Get the drive number by typing:
list disk
On my machine the USB disk was number 1.

5. Format the drive by typing:
select disk 1
create partition primary
select partition 1
format fs=NTFS

6. Mount the Windows 7 beta iso or insert the disk.

7. Navigate to the boot directory
cd E:\boot (Where E is the drive letter of the DVD)

8. Using bootsect, we’ll make the USB drive a bootable NTFS drive, ready for a Windows 7 image:
bootsect /nt60 F: (Where F is the drive letter of the USB Drive)

9. Close the command prompt

10. Copy the installation files from the mounted Windows 7 iso/disk to the USB drive.

11. Reboot the PC, and enter the BIOS (OR you can move to the boot manager menu, usually by pressing F10 if supported)

12. Set the boot priority to boot the USB drive first.

13. Install Windows 7.

Happy trails, my friends.
just to add if you already have your main pc with windows 7 installed and are trying to install on a netbook for instance, you can format the usb stick using normal format in windows7 via my computer, and select ntfs as the format type.

put the dvd you used to install the first copy of windows 7 on your main pc into the dvd drive

then you just need to do 7+ from above.
Hi Guys
Thanks for the tip -- I've used the instructions to create a UCBD4WIN Ultimate Boot for Windows rescue CD. and another one with a Bartpe disk with the acronis plug in inserted so I can even do a "Bare Metal" recovery.

Quick question (just me being greedy) -- there's plenty of space on an 8GB stick to have BOTH these systems on it. Is there any way to be able to DUAL BOOT from a SINGLE USB stick . Would love to have both OS'es on the SAME stick (and maybe a minimal KNOPPIX linux system as well - very useful command line Linux no GUI but really small OS).

I think you guys have just ruined my Sunday by giving me ideas --still the weather is FREEZING and there's no Footy (Soccer for US readers) on TV today worh looking at.

Last edited:
i was wondering whether a program like easybcd could be manipulated in order to create a bootmgr file which you could then place on the usb to give you the dualbootlike front page? im sure there is software designed to do custom bootups for the sort of thing your after.
I've tried doing that, but like the poster above, when i type list disk, only my primary drive shows up. But I also read that it's for Vista. How do you make one with XP?
If your flash drive doesn't show up, that would mean it's not supported.
ok i did these steps but how do i mount the iso to it thats where i stopped at.. im trying to install this with out a dvd cause i dont have dvd burner... this is right place right?
Yes, this is the right place. You don't mount the ISO, you open it with WinRAR, and copy all the files off it onto the thumb drive.
is it ok to use a 350gb external hard disk? i found a prog that lets u mount a virtual disc thought was pretty neat
What if I wanted to make the bootsect for a x64 version of 7 using an x86 machine? Says I can't use x64 on this operation system when I tried.
Unable to copy

Hey mate!
Great tut.
But i have a problem:
When i copy the ISO contents it says it can't copy a file from the sources folder(don't remember the name).
Any suggestions?

EDIT: The file is install.wim - 2.17 GB!!!!
Last edited:
USB Instructions fail @ step 7/ UPDATE

I've triple checked my input for errors. Once I exit I get this: DISKPART> exit
Leaving DiskPart...
C:\Windows\system32>cd D:\boot
C:\Windows\system32>bootsect /nt60 F:
'bootsect' is not recognized as an internal or external command,
operable program or batch file.
I even backed out to the C:\ prompt but no change. Need help. Thanks, Mike

Ok...I finally through trial & error got the ISO transferred to the card.
I still have the issue of windows asking for the CD/DVD Drivers......even after I disconnected them!!!
It looks like another Windows Cluge......
If anyone finds the answer to this one........well, kindly let me know. Mike
Last edited:
am I supposed to open bootsect.exe? And then do I extract the iso file to the flash drive? Thanks.
Hi there
It works fine (as per Tutorial)

One caveat however

When you create the bootsector via the BOOTSECT command from the command prompt as per your instruction you DON'T get the command pronpt text "Please press any key to boot from the CD"

So if you want to do an unattended install -- on any re-boots it will start copying the files again.

So you need to remove the USB just before a re-boot and insert it back again when you see the splash screen or just change the BIOS boot order at the first re-boot.

Another method, worked for me.


Used VirtualCloneDrive to mount .iso makes creating the install device quicker.

SlySoft Virtual CloneDrive

Probably don't need to remind anybody here but you can't create a Win 7 install USB flash drive from XP, only Vista and Win 7.

NOTE: this method doesn't use bootsect.
Last edited:
Hi, Hope you'll forgive the newbie questions. I have Windows 7 running on my primary desktop computer and its wonderful! I'd like to also install it on my netbook, but having never tried to make a bootable USB, I'm a little lost. I've formatted the flash drive as NTFS. I'd like to mount the .iso to the flash drive using Magic Disk (unless someone can recommend better free software!). When I try to navigate to the .iso on the install DVD that I used to install Win 7 on my desktop computer, I don't actually see any .iso files If I look at all files (regardless of type), I see the setup, etc., but nothing that would seem to be the .iso. Any suggestions? Thanks much. Best, Lisa
:razz: Hey need to make sure the netbook is able to be booted via usb in the bios. Go back to Home page of windows 7 forums and hit the search option in the nav bar and look into "boot" and "usb". There were a number of topics dedicated to your desire
Top Bottom