Creating a Bootable USB Flash Drive

Written 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 35 years, working in different positions such as technical team leader, project manager, and software developer. He is currently a software engineer with an emphasis on developing custom applications under Microsoft Windows. When not working with Windows or writing Tips, Barry is an amateur writer. His first non-fiction book is titled "A Chronological Commentary of Revelation." ...

MORE FROM BARRY

Checking for Faulty RAM

Although it's rare for RAM to go bad, it does happen. This tip tells you how to check for faulty RAM by using the Windows ...

Discover More

Logging Robocopy Operations

If you schedule Robocopy operations, you may want to maintain log files of what happened. In this case, getting familiar ...

Discover More

Using the Findstr Command

Finding data within files is a common need. If what you're looking for is in a flat file, you can find what you're after ...

Discover More
More WindowsTips

Creating a Hierarchy Map of Your Hard Drive

Want to see how the directories and subdirectories in your hard drive are organized? It's easy to do using the directions ...

Discover More

Using File History

Backing up your data is an important part of computer management. Enabling File History is a painless way to be able to ...

Discover More

Undoing a System Restore

Having the ability to restore your system back to when it was working properly is great, but what if, for some reason, ...

Discover More
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}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. 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 three more than 4?

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