Creating a Bootable USB Flash Drive

by Barry Dysert
(last updated October 5, 2015)

1

There may come a time when you want to boot your Windows system from a USB flash drive. You obviously must first have created a bootable drive prior to trying to use it. This tip tells you how to create a bootable USB flash drive. Although there is software on the Internet to help you with this process, this tip shows how to create a bootable USB drive using native Windows commands.

First, plug in your USB drive. Note: Your flash drive must have at least 4 GB of free space and it will be formatted to NTFS. So either use a new drive or backup your data before creating this bootable USB. Otherwise you will lose all your data.

Next, get to a command prompt window and type "diskpart" (without the quotes) and press Enter. Once in the DiskPart utility, type "list disk" (again, without the quotes) and press Enter. DiskPart will list the disks it detects. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. DiskPart's listing of the available disks.

I know by looking down the "Size" column that my USB disk is Disk 2. (If you're not sure, unplug your USB disk, and do another "list disk" to see which disk disappeared. Then plug it back in, do a third "list disk", and note the disk number of your USB disk.)

Going with Disk 2 as my USB disk, I enter the following lines in the DiskPart utility, ending each line by pressing the Enter key. (Also, on the first line you should change "2" to whatever disk is appropriate on your system.)

DISKPART> select disk 2
DISKPART> clean
DISKPART> create partition primary
DISKPART> select partition 1
DISKPART> active
DISKPART> format fs=NTFS  QUICK
DISKPART> assign
DISKPART> exit

As you enter each command, DiskPart displays a status message to keep you informed as to what it is doing. When these steps are done you should be out of the DiskPart utility and back to the command prompt. You now have a USB drive that is formatted using the NTFS file system and is therefore ready to be made bootable. To accomplish this, follow these steps:

  1. Insert your Windows 7 Installation DVD into the drive. (Step 2 assumes that drive D holds your DVD.)
  2. Using the command prompt window, change your device and directory to the DVD's boot directory where bootsect resides. For example:
  3.         C:\> cd /d  d:\boot
    
  4. Assuming that your USB drive has been labeled disk F by the operating system, type the following at the prompt:
  5.         D:\Boot> bootsect /nt60 f:
    
  6. Use Windows Explorer to copy all of the files on your Windows 7 Installation DVD to the formatted USB drive.
  7. You now have a bootable USB drive. When you want to boot from it, plug it in, reboot Windows, and when it is starting interrupt it to specify that you want to boot from the USB. (Changing the BIOS to change boot-device order is beyond the scope of this tip.)

    It is possible that you'll get an "access denied" error after performing step 3. If you do, it simply means that you need to open a command window using the administrator's rights. To do so, click the Start button and type "cmd" followed by Ctrl+Shift+Enter. Then you should be able to perform steps 2 through 4 with no problems.

 This tip (12620) applies to Windows 7.

Author Bio

Barry Dysert

Barry has been a computer professional for over 30 years, working in different positions such as technical team leader, project manager, and software developer.  He is currently a senior software engineer with an emphasis on developing custom applications under Microsoft Windows. ...

MORE FROM BARRY

Renaming Your Computer

When you buy a new computer, it typically has some obscure name that doesn't accurately reflect your personality. Or perhaps ...

Discover More

Using Robocopy with File Sizes and Ages

Robocopy is a robust file copy utility built into Windows. The various switches built into the program provide very powerful ...

Discover More

Using Powercfg to List Your Existing Power Schemes

Windows allows you to define different power schemes that control how your computer uses power. This tip shows you how to use ...

Discover More
More WindowsTips

Adding File Types to the Search Index

You can fine-tune Indexed Searches by adding file types to the search index. This tip tells you how.

Discover More

Opening a File with a Program Other than the Default

Windows determines a program to use with a particular file based on the file's type. If you want to temporarily override this ...

Discover More

Creating a List of Files in a Directory

Do you need a list of all the files in a directory? It's easy to create if you use the proper command-line commands.

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WindowsTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is six more than 8?

2015-10-07 05:01:42

Dennis

Can you do this if Windows came pre-installed and you don't have a Windows disk?


Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WindowsTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.