Tips To Install Windows 7/Vista Using Bootable USB Flash Drive Or Hard Disk

Sometimes you might need to install Windows Vista/ Windows 7 into a computer system that does not possesses a DVD drive. Or you might not like to spend time on installing Windows Vista/ Windows 7 via DVD media disc on a remote system where you can actually install the OS without a need of burning to DVD disk on a local PC which has the ISO file saved.

In any case if you feel that it is not possible to install Windows Vista/ Windows 7 via a DVD, it is possible that you install it from a Portable hard disk (HD) or USB drive. You can use Portable HD drive or a USB flash drive like an operating system installer. Moreover, the time taken to install an OS from Portable HD drive or a USB flash drive is lesser as compared to installing OS using DVD-ROM disc.

For using an external Portable HD/ USB flash drive to install Windows Vista/ Windows 7, you need to first make the Portable HD/USB flash drive bootable and copy the installation setup files for Windows Vista/ Windows 7. Use the below mentioned procedure.

Basic requirements for installing OS from Portable HD/ USB flash drive are mentioned as follows:

  • The motherboard of the target PC should be able to boot up using a USB device. You can check this support by going to BIOS.
  •  A Portable HD or a USB flash drive with a free space of 4GB or more.
  • Windows 7/ Vista ISO image.
  • An existing system running a Windows Vista/ Windows 7 OS.

Procedure to Format the Portable Hard Disk / USB Flash Drive

You need to format the Portable Hard Disk/USB Flash Drive in NTFS format using the built-in Format utility in Windows Explorer. Once formatted, you need to use diskmgmt.msc (Disk Management) for marking and activating the partition.

You may also use the command-line utility “diskpart” by following the below mentioned steps.

  • Go to command prompt with admin rights.
  • Run the DiskPart utility by using the command “diskpart”.
  • Check the number of the USB drive (Disk ###) by typing the command “list disk”.
  • If your system has only one hard disk and no other USB drives are plugged in, the disk number will be shown as Disk 1.

Important Tip: In case you have partitioned your Portable Hard Disk/ USB Flash Drive, you need to use the command “list volume” instead of “list disk” for selecting the volume number.

  • Now, you need to format your Portable Hard Disk/ USB Flash Drive with the commands mentioned below one after the other. “#” in the commands needs to be replaced with actual disk number. These commands will remove all the data from the Portable Hard Disk/ US
  • Flash Drive.

select disk #

clean

create partition primary

select partition 1

active

format fs=NTFS

assign

exit

You need to note that if you find errors when you create primary partition, you need to simply add size=4000 (i.e. 4.0GB) after the command “create partition primary”. For instance, “create partition primary size=4000”.

Important Tip: In case you have already portioned the Portable Hard Disk/ USB Flash Drive and do not want to format it again, you may use the command “select volume #” in order to choose the partition that you wish to activate. You can determine volume number by using the tip mentioned in Step no. 4.

You need to skip the first four commands mentioned in step no. 5 and continue from the command “active”. You may also skip the command “format fs=NTFS” in case the partition is already empty.

  • Leave the command prompt open as you would need it in the next procedure.

Procedure to make your Portable Hard Disk or USB Flash Drive bootable

A disk can be made bootable by various different ways. One of the methods is by using bootsect utility which is present in installation disc or DVD ISO of Windows 7 and Vista.

  • Insert the installation disc or DVD ISO of Windows 7 and Vista into the DVD drive. In case you have the DVD ISO image only, mount it to a virtual DVD/CD-ROM drive which is powered by virtual drive program. The Virtual drive functions pretty much in a similar manner as a physical CD or DVD drive, but it works virtually in the OS.
  • Now go to command prompt and switch to DVD’s boot directory of the OS using the command mentioned below:

            cd x:\boot

In this command, “x” needs to be replaced with CD/DVD drive letter.

  • Install the boot instructions by using the command “bootsect /nt60 y:” and set USB drive as bootable NTFS drive. Replace “y” in the command with real drive letter of your Portable Hard Disk or USB Flash Drive.
  • Exit the command prompt.

Important Tip: In case your system possesses a disk image utility like PowerISO or WinISO, you may use it to write the entire ISO image of Windows 7 and Vista into the selected partition. In such a situation, you can bypass the procedure to make the USB bootable. You also do not need to copy the DVD contents over to the USB.

Procedure to transfer the set up and installation files of Windows 7/Vista from DVD to Portable USB Drive.

You can copy all the contents from the DVD or ISO t of Windows 7/ Vista onto the USB drive by using Windows Explorer.  You may also go for various file copy tools or just extract the ISO onto the USB drive. For instance, you may use the command “xcopy x:\*.* /s /e /f y:\ for copying the contents of the DVD to the USB. 

In the above command,” x:” needs to be replaced by DVD disc/image letter and y:  has to be replaced by USB drive path.

Your Portable Hard Disk or USB Flash Drive is ready for installing Windows 7/Vista. To start with the installation process, you need to reboot the destination PC and enter the BIOS. The boot priority needs to be changed from DVD/ hard disk to USB. You need to then insert the Portable Hard Disk or USB Flash Drive into the USB port of the system and boot up the PC.

The trick mentioned above works with 32-bit (x86) as well as 64-bit (x64) Windows 7 and Vista. In case you have a 32-bit Windows OS but wish to prepare a 64-bit (x64) Windows 7/ Vista  USB-based installer, you can run a 64-bit bootsect.exe from a 32-bit (x86) environment.

All you need to do is, simply use the x86 Windows 7/ Vista  disk while using the command boot sect, before copying the contents of X64 Windows 7/ Vista  DVD to the Portable Hard Disk or USB Flash Drive.

However, you may also use DVD/USB Download Tool for creating a bootable USB drive for installation of Windows 7 through USB.

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