For those of you who despise carrying a Windows 7 installation DVD with you everywhere or your laptop/netbook doesn’t have a DVD drive, you might want to learn how to install Windows 7 without an optical drive but with a USB flash drive.
1. Make sure you have Windows 7 discs. If you have an ISO version, you can use MagicISO (freeware that will let you attach your ISO as a virtual DVD drive). (Download MagicISO here)
2. Format your USB flash drive using diskpart.
*Make sure you use at least a 4GB USB Flash drive, otherwise the Windows 7 ISO won’t fit.
Open up your command prompt as an administrator:
Type “diskpart” and Enter.
Type “list disk” and Enter.
Type “select disk 1” and Enter where “disk 1” is your USB flash drive. Be careful not to select your hard drive as it will wipe it!!!
Type “clean” and Enter.
Type “create partition primary” and Enter.
Type “select partition 1” and Enter.
Type “active” and Enter.
Type “format” fs=NTFS and Enter.
Type “assign” and Enter.
Type “exit” and Enter.
3. Next, mount your ISO file OR you can simply insert your Windows 7 DVD.
Go back to command prompt and browse to your /BOOT directory in the Windows 7 ISO/DVD:
Type “cd g:\boot” and Enter where g: is the letter of your ISO/DVD.
Then type “Bootsect.exe /nt60 f:” where f: is the letter of your USB flash drive to make your USB bootable. This will write a bootable sector into your USB flash drive.
4. Next, copy over your Windows 7 files to your USB flash drive. (The actual files, not the ISO file!)
5. Now, go restart the laptop/computer you are trying to install Windows 7 and choose “USB Flash Drive” as the boot option from BIOS. This will be different depending on what kind of computer/laptop you are using. You can usually get into the BIOS by pressing F10 or F12 or Del key at boot-up.
Most older computers/laptops won’t show USB as an option but will list your USB drive under hard drives. Also, make sure your USB flash is connected to your computer before enter the BIOS menus otherwise it won’t show up under hard drives.
Get into the BIOS and just change the USB flash to be at higher boot priority than your regular hard drive.
This was the hardest part for me because no one tells you that the USB flash will be detected by your BIOS only when it’s plugged in. So make sure to plug it in!!!
Also, you can upgrade your BIOS if it’s really old. Try your manufacturer’s support page for BIOS updates.
One more thing, use a “regular” USB flash drive, not one of those USB flash converter for microSD cards. At first, I wasted about 6 hours trying to use my microSD card, it doesn’t work plus it’s SLOW so just use a regular USB flash drive of at least 4 gigabytes!
6. After changing your boot-up settings to USB, re-boot your computer, boot from your flash drive and install Windows 7.
7. If you happen to finish installing Windows 7 using this guide, pat yourself on the back then go tell your friends about this blog post.
For Windows XP users, try BootSage Flash Driver builder here.
It took me awhile to get my new Windows 7 USB flash drive but it’s all worth it because installation is much faster on a USB flash drive plus you can carry it in your pocket.
Next, I will be playing with some pocket USB linux distros, let me see if there’s a reason for me to have that too.
Of course, I didn’t figure all of this out myself, I used various different HOWTO guides out there.
If my methods don’t work, refer to these: (and thanks a bunch to everyone for their guides, I wouldn’t have been able to do it myself all alone!)