Installing Windows 7 from a USB Drive

13 Oct
2009

The installation for Windows 7 is much faster via USB than CD so I decided to cut as much time off any install as possible by installing the distribution media onto USB rather than the old-school circa 1998 CD-ROM method.  If you want to install Windows 7 via a portable USB key then read on…

NOTICE:  Pay close attention to each step.  Every installation is different so be sure to read through all steps before attempting to format your USB key.  It is easy to type the wrong drive ID when formatting.  I will not be responsible formatting the drive so proceed at your own risk.  If you don’t feel comfortable doing these steps then stop and do the install via DVD instead.

Blah…Blahh…Blahhhh….OK, now that the disclaimer is out of the way let’s dig in…

http://gopaultech.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/usbdrive.jpg

Step 1:  Grab a 4GB or larger USB key.  the entire distribution is a little over 2GB so 4GB drives work nicely.

Step 2:  Plug the key into a workstation with a DVD drive that can read the Windows 7 Install media.  I used an existing Windows 7 desktop but you can also use a Vista/XP workstation as well.

Step 3:  Open a command prompt.  If using Vista be sure to open the command prompt as administrator by right clicking on the command prompt icon and selecting “Run as Administrator”

Step 4: Type the following into the command prompt window

  • diskpart
  • listdisk (The disk number for my USB key was 1, be sure to identify the size to get the correct disk ID.  This is important)
  • select disk 1 (you are about to format the disk so be sure you get the correct disk ID...See above step)
  • clean
  • create partition primary
  • select partion 1 (mine was 1.  be sure to put your ID here instead!)
  • active
  • format fs=NTFS
  • assign
  • exit

Step 5:  Insert the Windows 7 disk into the same workstation you used to format the USB key

Step 6:  In the same command prompt window navigate to the boot directory on the DVD drive where the Windows 7 Install disk is located

Step 7:  To make the drive bootable enter the following command

  • bootsect /nt60 E: (Where E: is the drive letter assigned after you typed the assign command above)

Step 8:  With the USB key formatted and bootable you can now copy all the files from the Windows 7 install DVD onto the USB Key

When you boot your target PC be sure to boot via the USB option in your boot priority.  Some workstations have a key you can press during intial startup to change the boot drive.

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