installing windows 7 from a USB stick

October 27, 2009

Microsoft offers a tool to create a bootable USB stick (thumb drive? flash drive? floppy disk?) using a Windows7 ISO image, but if you purchased an educational/student copy of Windows7, it won’t work for you.

Don’t be sad, you can create a bootable USB stick installer from the online download. It’s easy, although you’ll have to get your hands a bit dirty.

You’ll need two utilities:

  • PeToUSB to format your USB stick (get the latest version)
  • BootSect (I don’t know who made this awesome tool, you can download it from here)

First, format your USB stick (must be 4gb or larger) with PeToUSB (obviously this will wipe out all files on your USB stick). Under format options make sure that you check:

  • Enable Disk format
  • Enable LBA (FAT16x)

Leace everything else unchecked. Drive label can be whatever. Here’s a screenshot:

PeToUSB format

PeToUSB format

Extract BootSect.zip somewhere, for example c:\temp.

Now fire up command prompt (windows button+r, type cmd). Go to the folder where BootSect is, for example:

cd c:\temp\bootsect

Assuming your USB stick is drive d:, type (otherwise replace d with your drive letter):

bootsect /nt60 d:

You should see something like this:

bootsect /nt60 d:

bootsect /nt60 d:

Now your USB stick is ready for the Windows7 installation files.

First you have to run the installer to unpack the installation files from the box files. As soon as unloading is done and the installation screen appears, you can close the installer. You’ll have a new folder called expandedSetup:

unboxed windows7 installer

unboxed windows7 installer

In command prompt cd to the expandedSetup folder, for example:

cd \Users\lajos\Desktop\win7_32\expandedSetup

Copy the installation files to the USB stick using xcopy:

xcopy *.* /s /e /f d:

Now sip on your favorite drink for a while 😉 When xcopy finishes, you’ll have a Windows7 USB stick installer!

Reboot your computer from the USB stick and the Windows7 installer should start up.

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