Use a USB Key to Install Windows on Any System

Friday, December 30, 2011

Putting the Windows installation on a USB thumb drive has a few advantages—a small USB key is much more convenient to carry around than a DVD. The Operating System will install much faster, and you can use a USB key to install Windows on systems that do not have a DVD drive, such as a netbook. All it requires is some work in Command Prompt and your USB will be Windows installation ready.



Don’t put the USB drive in yet, that will come later.


First, you’ll need to make sure that you have DiskPart utility on the system, it comes free with Windows, but if you don’t have it, you can download DiskPart here.


If you are using Windows XP, it is advisable that you run Command Prompt and type the following and hit enter to run it.


Otherwise, for Windows Vista and Windows 7 users, launch the DiskPart utility by typing diskpart in the Start Menu.


Now, run the list disk command by typing the following in Command Prompt and hit enter to check the status of your drive.

list disk

You will see all of your drives but the USB which is handy because you will run list disk again after inserting the USB.






Now run select disk 1 by typing the following and hit enter where the number is the corresponding number of your USB drive.

select disk 1

Then you will clean the disk by typing the following and hitting enter. This will erase everything off the disk in the process.


Now, you can run create partition primary by typing the following and hitting enter.

create partition primary

Make the partition active by typing the following and hitting enter.





Next comes the file system, type the following and hit enter.

format fs=fat32 quick


format fs=ntfs quick

Next, you need to be able to access it from Windows Explorer by assigning it a drive letter. Type the following and hit enter.




Now, go to Windows Explorer, and copy the contents from the Windows setup disk to the USB. You can do so by dragging and dropping. You can close Command Prompt and DiskPart since the USB is now complete.


Once the copy is done you can eject the USB and use it to install on other systems. To boot off the USB, at boot, hit whatever key it says will run set up. Once you are in the BIOS, you will go to Disk Priority, a small exploration won’t hurt and set the removable disk to first priority. If that doesn’t work, then you will look for the hard drive priority and make the USB priority over the main – the USB will be recognized as a hard drive. Once the install is done, or it reboots, enter the BIOS setup again and reverse what you did and let the rest of the setup and the Operating System finish installing itself and run on its own.

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