Installing Microsoft Windows Vista / Windows 7 from a USB Stick

Today, more and more systems come without a CD / DVDROM (Netbooks, small Notebooks). If i buy a new system, i never equip it with a built-in CD / DVDROM. If i need to boot such a system from a ROM Media, i always attach one using USB. Or whenever possible, i put the content of the media on a memory card like an USB stick.

This is a quick tutorial about booting the setup and installing Microsoft Windows Vista, Microsoft Windows 7 or Microsoft Windows Server 2008 from a USB Stick or a USB Harddisk / Harddrive. This procedure can also be used for other types of memory cards like SD, MMC or XD, as long as the system can be configured to boot from such a device (check out the BIOS bootable devices and boot order).

Consider to use a memory type which has good data read speeds (15 MB/s is okay, 50MB/s is fun! ;). The setup only reads data from the media (it’s handled like a ROM (Read Only Memory)), so for the copy / setup process it is great to have a performant type of memory chip on the media.

Start from scratch:

  • Mount / Plug in the USB Stick / Memory Card into the slot
    Be careful, the next steps will erase/delete all data on the USB Stick / Memory Card.
    Consider, you must be administrator to run diskpart!

Start DiskPart

on the DISKPART> prompt type LIST DISK

on the DISKPART> prompt select the disk (be careful!) using SELECT DISK 2 (on my system this is the USB Stick)

on the DISKPART> prompt LIST PARTITION to get a list of partitions on that specific disk

on the DISKPART> prompt select the partition using SELECT PARTITION 1

on the DISKPART> prompt format the the partition using FORMAT FS=FAT32 LABEL=”WIN7SOURCE” QUICK OVERRIDE

on the DISKPART> prompt make the selected partition active (bootable) using ACTIVE

on the DISKPART> prompt quit DiskPart using EXIT

your done – Your USB or whatever Media is formatted and bootable!



Copy the Microsoft Windows Vista / 7 / Server 2008 Source on the media

Assuming your Microsoft Windows Vista / 7 / Server 2008 source is in the format of an ISO file you have the following possibilities:

  • Mount the ISO using Daemon Tools
    i recommend using Daemon Tools. Be careful, choose and download the LITE version, during Setup the Installer wants to install crap components, remove all check boxes. additionally they want to set your browser start page on one of their sites, remove that checkbox as well .. you don’t have to do this, but i recommend it!
  • Extract the ISO using Tools such as Winrar or 7-Zip
  • Extract / Mount the Media using UltraISO

In this post i will describe the process using Daemon Tools, but there’s not a big difference if you choose one of the other tools and extract or mount the ISO image.

Mount the ISO using Daemon Tools

Right mouse button on the Trayicon..



Now your Explorer should like this:



In my case, the USB Stick uses Driveletter F and the ISO is mounted as a virtual Disc Drive under Driveletter H.

Now copy the whole content of H to F and your done. You can do this in explorer or using the xcopy command:
xcopy h:\*.* /s /e /f f:\

now reboot your system, set the correct boot order in BIOS (USB /Memory Card Slot must be the first boot device) and the system should start / boot using your created media.

feel free to comment!