View Full Version : [Tips - Windows] Install Windows from an USB stick

09-29-2009, 04:22 AM
In the last few weeks people kept asking me how to install Windows Vista or Windows 7 on their Netbooks. As you all know, Netbooks don't have an optical drive to use the Windows DVD with, so I decided to make a short guide.

What do you need:
- an USB stick (4GB+)
- the OS DVD (Windows Vista or Windows 7)
- a computer with Vista or 7 already installed.

Step 1:
Insert the USB stick into the USB port on your computer and open the Command Prompt (console from now on) with Administrative priviledges (Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> Right click on Command Prompt -> Run as Administrator)
Run the application "diskpart" by typing "diskpart". A new window should open. In the new window type "list disk". This will give you a list of all disks in your system. The USB stick is usually marked as "disk 1", but not necessarily. Make sure you pick the correct label or you might destroy data (I'm not going to take responsibility if you lose data, because of this). Then type the following commands in the same window as you typed "list disk":
select disk 1 ("disk 1" is the label of your USB stick we looked for within the list before)
create partition primary
select partition 1
format fs=ntfs quick

The "exit" command will close the window.

Step 2:
Insert your Windows Vista or Windows 7 DVD into the DVD drive. Then within the console (you should have it running from step 1) browse to the DVD drive (by typing "d:" assuming D is your DVD drive's assigned letter) and move into the boot directory (type "cd boot" and process). After this, type "bootsect /nt60 h:" (H is the new drive letter assigned to the USB stick in step 1. Change the command accordingly to match your system). Now you can close the console.

Step 3:
Now everything left to do is to copy all the content from the Windows Vista or Windows 7 DVD to the USB stick.

Step 4:
Reboot your system, enter the BiOS and change your boot priority to boot from the USB. Save and exit your BiOS and boot the USB stick.

Enjoy installing your Windows. ^_^

UPDATE: Since Windows 8, a new BiOS was widely deployed called Unified Extensible Firmware Interface or UEFI for short. This BiOS works a bit differently than the old one and requires special prerequisites to boot. The one relevant to us is the partition table. To install Windows 8+ (Windows 7 and earlier don't support the new mode) in UEFI mode follow the steps above, but change line format fs=ntfs quick in step 1 with format fs=fat32 quick.

09-29-2009, 08:04 AM

I bet this method can be apply on Windows XP though you need to obtain bootsect command externally since it doesn't include in Win XP disk.

Question: How reliable is it?

09-29-2009, 09:10 AM
Yes, for XP and any other NT OS down to the first Windows NT you have to change "bootsect /nt60 h:" to "bootsect /nt52 h:". Other than that, the sequence is the same. I'm just not sure if bootsect works on XP. You would probably still need a Vista or W7 system to build the USB boot sector.

As for reliability it works, watch for viruses though, since USB sticks are not write protected. ;)

EDIT: Forgot to mention that for Windows XP you need at least a 1GB USB stick, because the boot sector takes approx. 250MB.

09-29-2009, 06:28 PM

How do you install it on your computer/mac

09-30-2009, 12:07 PM
There are a lot of step-by-step guides how to install Windows once you are inside the setup menu on the internet. Please, use Google for a tutorial.

BTW: To copy the windows setup to an USB stick, you can also use a tool Microsoft made for this purpose. You can find it here: -click (http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msusa/html/pbPage.Help_Win7_usbdvd_dwnTool)-

09-30-2009, 03:08 PM
Just another reason to use Linux.