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Install Windows 7 from USB

Install Windows 7 from USB

windows7UPDATE (10/22/2009 12:01AM EDT): This guide details how to prepare a Windows 7 ISO to install from a flash drive. If you have a Windows 7 DVD, please go here.

Windows 7 is officially on the prowl, and that means a whole new crop of users are receiving the new operating system in the form of an ISO file. Sure, you could burn it to DVD and be on your way, but that’s so ordinary, and Netbook users are still up the creek. Why not build a little geek cred and install Windows 7 from USB? We’ll show you how to do it in just four simple steps.


You’ll need to prepare a few downloads before you can get crackin’ with your USB-powered install of Windows 7:

Next, make sure that your flash drive is larger than 4GB and is connected to your system.

Our 8GB SanDisk Cruzer is ready!

Our 8GB SanDisk Cruzer is ready!

Step 1:

Install and run the HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool. Configure the tool to match the settings provided below, and press start to clean the drive.


This step will erase the contents of your flash drive. Make sure that all important material has been backed up prior to proceeding.

Match your program to these settings and press start.

Match your program to these settings and press start.

Step 2:

Now that the flash drive has been formatted, it’s time to mount the Windows 7 ISO as a virtual DVD. Install and run MagicISO, then right click on your Windows 7 ISO and mount it to a drive as we have done in the diagram below. If you already have a virtual CD/DVD-ROM application such as Alcohol 120% or Daemon Tools, we reckon you’re savvy to it and can make the mounting magic happen on your own.


Windows Vista and Windows 7 users must right click and run the MagicISO installer as an administrator; the ability to mount ISOs from the Windows context menu (right clicking) will otherwise be unavailable.

Our Windows 7 ISO is now mounted to Z:

Mounting the Windows 7 ISO to the Z: drive.

Windows Explorer confirms our ISO is on Z:.

Windows Explorer confirms our ISO is on Z:.

Next page »


  1. Trumansnare
    Trumansnare Awesome,
    Nice tutorial
    Im gonna give this a go.
    Thank you
  2. BlackHawk
    BlackHawk Thanks. Gonna try it out on all the machines in the house once RC1 rolls out.
  3. Everton how big a drive is required?
  4. Thrax
    Thrax 4GB or better.
  5. Dennis My Command Line always starts with C:\Documents and Settings\Name>

    How do I clear it and make commands with other drives?
  6. BuddyJ
    BuddyJ cd C:\

    "cd" is the command for change directory. It's what you need to switch to whatever location you're looking for.
  7. Mehdi thank you for comprehensive tutorial . Do I still have my xp after installing in this way?
  8. Thrax
    Thrax You will have XP if you tell Windows 7 to create a partition out of free space. If you choose to reformat, you will not have XP.
  9. Zaphire It's much easier to do it with UltraISO.
    You load the install DVD or an iso of the install DVD you may have downloaded into UltraISO. Then simply use the 'Bootable' menu option to 'Write Disk image...' and having set which drive your USB Key is, press 'Write'.
    You can also check the box to 'Verify' your write.
    You are effectively doing what you do when you burn an ISO to a DVD but in this case it's a one step operation to 'burn' a bootable USB key without having to format it, use the HP or MBR tool or Diskpart etc. You can overwrite a used key or do this on any new key.
    And you can do it in XP, Vista or Win 7.
  10. primesuspect
    primesuspect Ultra ISO also costs money.

    This method is free. So why would you pay $30 for something you can do for free with the above tools?
  11. Rob You can do it on the Ultra ISO trial, so your point is moot.
  12. Thrax
    Thrax And when you want to do it again in the future? Right, you'd have to reformat to circumvent the trial limitations.
  13. jokerz4fun
    jokerz4fun Thrax great post! I might give this one a try.
  14. Tb Hi there - I hardly ever leave posts anywhere, but I just wanted to say *thank you so much* for your easy to follow guide on making a bootable usb using xp. I searched for hours to find a method that wasn't totally incomprehensible due to the use of jargon that I don't understand. Thanks again, I really appreciate it.
  15. Shay when I issue the command g:\boot\bootsect /nt60 e:

    I get

    Target volumes will be updated with BOOTMGR compatible bootcode.

    Drive e: maps to volume \\?\Volume{910a560e-4b52-11de-b1ba-0016418aa708}.

    This volume does not appear to connect to any disk partitions. Volume bootcode

    is always unused in the absence of associated partitions.

    any help would be great
  16. Ranic Will doing this wipe my hard drive?
  17. Thrax
    Thrax Creating the USB stick will not wipe your hard drive. Installing Windows 7 will wipe your hard drive.
  18. ss hi..
    when i try to do MBRwiz /disk=2 /active=1 (in my case it is 2) it gives an error "invalid partition selected".
    please tell me what to do?
  19. Ludvig I Have a 32bit version of XP but my Windoes 7 is a 64bit. and it says caveat isent a command
  20. missoz I did everything u said but when I try to boot from the flash drive I get "BOOTMGR IS MISSING". What should I do?
  21. missoz tried it again now it says DISK ERROR
  22. j0k3r It is necessary to Format Flash with NTFS.
    I heard this makes the drive slow.
    Will formatting to Fat32 work?
  23. Snarkasm
    Snarkasm NTFS doesn't make the drive slow. It's a different filesystem, that's all, and it lets you put files larger than 4GB on the drive.
  24. Yotam WOW, I've tried 5 different tutorials and this is the only one that actually worked for me, thank you very much.
  25. Thrax
    Thrax You're very welcome, Yotam! :D I ran into the same issues when the beta was released, and I decided that I'd had enough, so I wrote one that I knew would work because I used it!
  26. Ryder
    Snarkasm wrote:
    NTFS doesn't make the drive slow. It's a different filesystem, that's all, and it lets you put files larger than 4GB on the drive.
    It will slow down a flash drive Snark. Most flash drives, due to the nature of the Nand, will find FAT32 the fastest/speediest. Now, if you can get it formatted NTFS with 32K blocks.. that should be close to the same speed.
  27. Snarkasm
    Snarkasm Can you quantify the degree of slowdown, if you don't mind? Is it actually worth mentioning at all?
  28. Ryder
    Ryder Usually 3 - 5 MB/s on most chipsets (real data transfer).
  29. shwaip
  30. Snarkasm
    Snarkasm Gotcha. Thanks folks.
  31. longxin Fantastic, just clearing up my 32G stick.

    Question, do you have a 'working' tutorial for a multi-boot XP+Vista+7+2003+2008 x32 and x64 "ultimate windows install USB stick?" :)

  32. Thrax
    Thrax I do not have such a tutorial, but I have a decent idea as to how that might be accomplished. I'll look into it! Thanks, longxin! :)
  33. Josh22 I have tried this and 2 other ways to make a bootable usb for win 7 installation, but it never boots, it just stucks on the flashing _ . What can I do so I can finally install windows 7???
  34. longxin Thanks Robert. Look forward to seeing that Ultimate Windows Installer USB stick tutorial! :)

    This works like a charm! thanks again.
  36. Matej Oh this is helpful guide. Awesome. Thanks dude!
  37. Guigwime Unfortunately, this didn't work for me. I followed it, but when I boot, I just get "Reboot and Select proper Boot device or Insert Media in selected Boot device and press a key." Now, I know that it detects it because the bios changed the name from "Removable Disk" to "Fanthom Drive" but it seems it still doesn't feel like booting. I did do the mbrwiz tool thing, so I got the bootsect. So I don't know what's going on :(
  38. Thrax
    Thrax This guide works perfectly on any computer capable of booting a USB stick. So either your PC is one of those PCs that can't, or you made a misstep somewhere. :(
  39. Eric Hi there!

    I did whats on the tutorial and when i boot from the usb stick i get 'read disk error'. I've set the boot priority to usb and i even flashed the bios just to make sure. My system is a P4 2.4 , 1GB ram and the mobo MSI PT8 Neo-V.
    I can't figure out what the problem could be. Please help!

  40. Fern Hello!

    How is it going with the tutorial for a multi-boot XP+Vista+7+2003+2008 x32 and x64 "ultimate windows install USB stick?"
  41. KHALIL Hi there..

    I followed all of the above steps but when I restart and after company logo there is a cursor flashing and nothing happenx(setup not starting..) :(
  42. photodude
    photodude Guess I'm out of luck for doing this since I have a download version which is just an .exe file

    maybe I'll have to wait for my backup disk so I'll have an ISO (unless the exe creates an ISO but I don't dare run it yet as I plan to keep my old drive on another system since it's a full install and I have a different license I can use for the upgrade version I got a sweet deal on)
  43. Thrax
  44. photodude
    photodude Thanks for the link @Robert.

    Looks like the .exe and two boxfiles, is an extractor program and does not have an iso in it.

    I did get an ISO download after an email to customer service. Next step getting a hard drive and the USB ready.
  45. Robin Nilsson I tried to install win7 with this guide but when I get to step 3 and try to use the command Z:\boot\bootsect /nt60 X: i get this message: the system cannot find the path specified. I write F:\boot\bootsect /nt60 G: , where F: is the place where i mounted the disk in daemon tools and G: is the place for my USB-stick... what do I do wrong?
  47. tejadeep thanks a lot it was really helpfull but the bootsect command can be skipped check the othere sites for more procedures
  48. confused i have managed to follow your steps and created a USB bootable disk.
    i am using WinXp.
    when i boot my comp with the USB, it states that the bootmgr was incorrect.
  49. problemchild I tried but encountered various errors. After I try to set the drive/partition as active, windows will no longer allow me to use it, saying it isn't formatted, but it won't let me format it again either.

    I used the HP software and it would allow me to format it as NTFS, and UltraISO burned it perfectly. I understand the free vs trial debate, but use what works!
  50. Snarkasm
  51. Ivinio it looks like you had windows Vista, would it work if i have windows XP?
  52. Ivinio Please reply to my email ivinio21@gmail.com i want to know if it works with windows xp pro. Thanks.
  53. Thrax
    Thrax It works on XP.
  54. Cherimoya Eihn I have no boot menu on my laptop.
    And installation Windows 7 DVD was scratched.
    What i did was:
    1) download windows 7 installation ISO;
    2) unpack it on flash drive;
    3) boot from any installation CD/DVD (just to get close
    to command promt);
    4) format c:;
    5) copy contents of flash drive to c:;
    (xcopy f:*.* c:);
    6) reboot.
    The PC will boot from c: as it was some DVD and will actually install Windows on itself.
  55. amit Hi there,

    Just wanted to thank for this article. After following it windows 7 was up and running on my portable with in 25 mins. Formating my existing drive was taken care by win 7 during installation. Only driver I had to update was nVidia GForce.

  56. cyhex here is a very simple way of doing that:

    dd if=windows.iso of=/dev/usb

    for windows users get dd from the net. All *nix osx should have it installed by default.
  57. Andrew Using Windows XP SP3 x86. Trying to make bootable USB of Windows 7 x86. When I issue the MBRwiz /disk=# /active=1 command, I don't get the message "Partition successfully ACTIVE". I tried active=0 command, then retried active=1, but still not working. It doesn't boot after completing all steps. I have USB Boot capability in BIOS.
  58. Manoj We need to first identify the flash disk, so start by running MBRWizard with the /list command: mbrwiz /list . After locating the flash drive, make note of the Disk # associated with the flash disk. Now, execute the following command, making sure the /disk=x variable corresponds to the flash disk #:

    MBRWiz /Active=1 /Disk=x
  59. Manoj But finally i get an Disk Read error...

    OS: WinXP
    Trascend 4GB USB
  60. Helix I've tried this several times even using the Windows USB/DVD tool and it continually spits 'Disk Read Error' at me ... Why?!
  61. primesuspect
    primesuspect You probably have a bad disk
  62. kiks hi. i am not tech savvy and i need your help. i have a new computer set at home and it has no OS. completely new. specs are core2duo e7500, 2gb ram ddr2 apacer, asus p5kplam epu board, dvdr writer,320gd hdd and 1gb geforce 9500 vid card. i don't know it it's fast. it is for documentation purposes. anyway, i have my windows 7 ultimate installer in an 8gb-usb drive. how do i install the OS? because in this guide, it is for computers with existing programs. thanks. badly need your help, guys. i need a step-by-step process. thanks again
  63. Ryder
    Ryder Put the USB stick in the PC, boot the PC into the bios (usually you press delete to enter the bios, but it may be F2, F10, or F12 also), make sure the USB stick is the 1st boot device, then save and reboot the system.

    Once it boots, follow the prompts to install Windows like you normally would.
  64. kiks Thank you, RyderOCZ. OH, this is my first time to ever install an OS. Obviously scared. If it fails, may I be able to do it again?

    As they mentioned above, I need to download some ISO softwares. I do not need to do that since my set is new, do I?

    I also need to have a partition in my 320gb hdd into 160gb each. I think that happens in the installation process and I have to check the OPTIONS part. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

    Thank you.
  65. kiks Geez... Lost my follow up comment.. Anyway...

    Thank you for that RyderOCZ.
    It is my first time ever to install an OS.

    If by any chance the installation would be a failure, it is possible to do it again, right?

    Also, I would like to have 2 parts for my 320gb hdd into 160gb each. One for the program Files and the other for my personal files. I think it will appear in the Windows Installation as I go along, right? Somewhere, it has OPTIONS. Just can't picture it out the way my friend described the process to me.

    "Once it boots, follow the prompts to install Windows like you normally would."
    > Do I need to boot the CDRom and the HDD as well or what?

    Thanks. I am taking down notes.
  66. fatcat
    fatcat not to take away from Thrax's guide, which is awesome in it's own right...

    but I just used this last night:

    Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool\

    You DO need your Windows 7 .ISO you DID download from Microsoft when you BOUGHT windows 7 online. :)
  67. kiks How will I be able to use Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool\ when my computer is brand new? it has no softwares at all.
  68. nkspro Thank you for your guide. Here is very simple plan:

    1. download the hp usb format tool
    2. Format as suggested in this guide
    3. Use the Windows 7 USB tool
    4. Bingo, no error. Try it, it would work.
  69. audreygreen
    audreygreen How much space is required. I have an 8GB memory stick, but it has only around 4GB left...Can't delete important files though. Is that enough to install win 7?
  70. akash "MBRwiz /disk=1 /active=1 "command gives
    Error 105: "Invalid or incomplete switch: /disc=1".....any idea how to resolve this?
  71. Thrax
    Thrax It's /disk=1, not /disc=1.
  72. DeathKnight hey Thrax please help
    every time i tried to do first step cd Desktop/MBRWiz it told me invailed or incomplete switch: /
    what should i do please help i need this win 7 badly
  73. Tushon
    Tushon if you saved the file in the a folder on your desktop called mbrwiz, your commands would look like this
    cd %username%\Desktop\MBRWiz
    mbrwiz /list
  74. confused geek Hey, I'm also having the "error 105: invalid or incomplete switch: /active=1" yes I spelled disk correctly, it looks like it's because of the 'command line parameters may have been changed in version 3.0" (MBRWiz) Is the fix to get the older version of mbrwiz?
  75. Tushon
    Hey, I'm also having the "error 105: invalid or incomplete switch: /active=1" yes I spelled disk correctly, it looks like it's because of the 'command line parameters may have been changed in version 3.0" (MBRWiz) Is the fix to get the older version of mbrwiz?
    I think you probably need to drop the =1 on /active

  76. confused geek I actually got past that, running v2.0b right now in vista with the download that's for xp/98 but I want to install 64bit windows 7 on a new machine, and this current (old) build is on 32-bit vista. How can I create a 64-bit ISO as you stated before step four?? the help is greatly appreciated
  77. Tushon
    I actually got past that, running v2.0b right now in vista with the download that's for xp/98 but I want to install 64bit windows 7 on a new machine, and this current (old) build is on 32-bit vista. How can I create a 64-bit ISO as you stated before step four?? the help is greatly appreciated
    Thrax wrote:
    If you’re running a 32-bit copy Windows and want to configure a Windows 7 x64 flash drive, repeat steps 1-3 with a 32-bit Windows 7 ISO, then mount a 64-bit ISO for step 4.
    He states in the preparation that you already need to have an ISO in your possession. We can only recommend legally obtaining such things, but what matters the most is not the ISO you get, but that you have a valid key. Use your search button.
  78. Chris Ive noticed with a lot of you guys, make sure ever comman line you type is exact same as file you looking for. everthing is case sensative, like when your working the MBRWiz file a lot of you are typing MBRwiz which is wrong cause in the file name the w is capital...this guide works great if you use common sense and follow the guide
  79. BobCov Don't know if this is valid, but it worked for me. I used PeToUSB (google it)with option enable LBA and enable disk format, then used magiciso to mount the win7iso, extracted bootsect.exe and used bootsect /nt60 F: option. Then used copy to copy the contents of the iso to the drive. It was a 4GB flash and it has 1.4gb free.
  80. Vetaz Lets hope this will work!:) I am now copying the iso^^ It gonna take about 45mins:( ANyway thanks for the help and i hope it will work since, in this tutorial, i have gotten the furthest:D
  81. gunraykilla i did everything right, when i reboot my bios just loads like normal, even if its set to boot the removable disk first. i have xp 32 bit sp3, brand new mobo
  82. Tushon
    i did everything right, when i reboot my bios just loads like normal, even if its set to boot the removable disk first. i have xp 32 bit sp3, brand new mobo

    Then you didn't do something right ...
  83. keriko thank you very much for this article. it's the first decent, step by step tutorial for the slightly less tech-genius that i've read. massively helpful and has really made my win7 tablet install a pleasure. thank you.
  84. Manuel Dude, thanks... It was straight forward, it is a great tuto!!!
  85. UraniumX Thanks man this was really helpful. Worked like a charm on my old crappy windows XP OS. My DVD rom was out of order so have been trying a whole lot of methods to make my pen bootable, and at last I found this! Long live bro :) :)
  86. Kevin05 The (MBRWiz/list) command will not work! When I type it in, the following comes up: "'MBRWiz' is not recognized as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file." What do I do? I'm running Windows XP.
  87. JEDAN45 First open cmd in run and use cd to go to the directory where you saved MBRWiz and type MBRWiz /list then so on and on.
  88. Justin To anybody have trouble with MBRWizard: Make sure you check the online documentation for changed commands!! I had to change MBRWizard /Disk=1 /Active=1 to read MBRWizard /Disk=1 /Active

    It didn't work in the format specified in the tutorial, so make sure you check your documentation! Other than that, thanks for the tutorial!
  89. BlackHawk
    BlackHawk I know this is old but MS has a utility out.


    Worked perfectly when I used it to install 7 on a nettop.

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