How to install Windows 7 from USB pen drive

This tutorial explains how you can install Windows 7 from a USB pen drive.

A few days back, I had to install Windows 7 OS on a PC that did not have a DVD drive. How do you install Windows 7 on a machine without a DVD drive? The obvious choice was for me to transfer the Windows installation DVD contents to a USB pen drive and boot the PC with the pen drive.

However, I learnt that merely copying the DVD contents to the USB pen drive was not enough. You need to prepare the pen drive prior to copying the files to it.

What you will need

  1. USB stick – having at-least 4GB space. Less won’t do because the total size of installation files is over 3 GB.
  2. Windows 7 installation DVD. Tip: If you have a Windows installation ISO file, that will be fine too provided you are able to mount the ISO and access its contents.

Preparing the USB stick

Preparing the USB stick (pen drive) involves creating an NTFS partition on the USB stick and making the partition bootable.

So lets first create a primary partition on the USB stick and format it as NTFS.

Open a Windows Command terminal (Cmd.exe) with Administrator privileges. (Hint: Click “Start/Windows icon” in task bar on Windows desktop and type “command terminal” in the search box.

You will see the Command terminal in the program menu. Now move the mouse pointer over the Command terminal, right-click on the icon and in the pop-up menu click on “Run as Administrator”. You will be prompted to enter the Administrator password.)

Next execute the following commands (shown in CAPS) in sequence within the command terminal.

DISKPART

Starts the disk partitioning tool.

LIST DISK

Lists all the disks recognized by Windows. If you have only one USB stick attached, then the USB stick is usually identified as “Disk 1″. In this tutorial, I am assuming the USB stick is Disk 1. Your’s may be different.

SELECT Disk 1

CLEAN

CREATE PARTITION PRIMARY

SELECT PARTITION 1

ACTIVE

FORMAT FS=NTFS QUICK

ASSIGN

The series of steps listed above will select the USB stick, create a primary partition on it, and format the partition as NTFS.

EXIT

Exits the disk partition tool.

Do not close the command terminal yet. You will need it in the next step.

Copy the setup to the USB stick

Now that you have prepared the USB stick, you need to copy the Windows installation files to the USB stick.

First insert your Windows 7 installation DVD into your DVD drive.

Note down the DVD drive letter and the USB drive letter. For me the DVD drive was assigned ‘D:’ and the USB stick was assigned the drive ‘H:’ – for you it may be different.

Now in the command terminal (still with Administrator privileges), enter the following commands in sequence.

D: CD BOOT

CD BOOT

Move into the ‘Boot’ directory in the D: drive.

BOOTSECT.EXE /NT60 H:

Set the boot flag for the NTFS partition in the USB stick which is identified by drive letter ‘H:’.

Now copy everything from the Windows 7 DVD into the USB pen drive.

Final step: Boot up your PC using the USB pen drive

To boot up using the USB pen drive, you may need to enter the BIOS screen and set the appropriate boot parameters. In most cases this is an optional step and may not be necessary. You should do this only if your PC does not boot up from the USB pen drive.

I hope you have understood how to install Windows 7 to your PC from the USB pen drive by reading the above tutorial.