Tuesday, August 02, 2011

How to turn a USB thumb drive into a Windows 7 installation disk

If you need to install Windows 7 on a computer that has no DVD drive and you don't have a network connection to install from a shared DVD drive on another computer, you can install the OS from a USB thumb drive. Make sure it has plenty of free space for the installation files (I used a clean 32 GB drive). You will need to wipe everything on the drive so be sure to back up any data you have there to a different location. Here are the steps to follow to prepare the USB drive.

1. Insert the USB drive into a computer that does have a DVD drive.
2. Click Start and in the search box, type cmd and press CTRL+SHIFT+ENTER to open the command prompt with administrative
3. At the command prompt, type diskpart
4. At the DISKPART> prompt, type list disk
5. Type select disk replacing with the number of the USB disk from the list of disks
6. Type clean
7. Type create partition primary 8. Type active
9. Type format fs=fat32 quick
10. Type assign
11. Type exit
12. Type exit
The above is not a typo. You need to type "exit" twice, once to exit the DISKPART utility and then again to close the command prompt.

Now you can insert the Windows 7 installation disc and copy all files to the USB drive. To use it to install Windows 7, insert it in the computer where you want to install the OS, make sure the BIOS is set to boot from the USB drive first, and boot up to begin the Windows setup process.