Installing Windows 7 from a flash drive – faster and more convenient

By | June 12, 2011
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Did you know you can install Windows 7 from a flash drive? Putting the Windows 7 installation on a USB flash drive has a couple of big advantages: A flash drive is more portable than a DVD, and Windows 7 will install much faster from a flash drive than it will from a DVD because the data transfer rate is much faster.. Plus having the Windows 7 installation disk on USB flash drive enables you to install Windows 7 on computers that don’t have a DVD drive – like a netbook computer for instance.

It’s really easy to transfer the contents of the Windows 7 DVD onto a USB flash drive. But you must be careful to copy all of the files on the DVD and make sure your flash drive is properly prepared. First make sure there’s nothing on your flash drive you want to save. If there is, move it to your hard drive or to another flash drive – or burn it to a CD or DVD. You’ll need a clean flash drive to make a Windows 7 installation flash drive.

Once you’ve got your flash drive and it’s free of files and other things you want to keep – follow these steps to make an installation flash drive for Windows 7:

* First, you’ll need the DiskPart utility on the system you’re using to prepare your flash drive. DiskPart is a free disk partitioning utility that is most likely already installed on your Windows computer. If you can’t find it on your system, you can download DiskPart here.
* If you’re using Windows Vista you can start the DiskPart utility by typing diskpart in the search form at the bottom of the Start Menu.
* Then run the list disk command to check the status of your drive.
* Now run select disk 1 where the “1” is actually the corresponding number of your USB drive.
* Run clean.
* Once the flash drive is clean, you can run create partition primary.
* Now make the partition active by entering active
* Then you need to set up the file system as Fat32 by running format fs=fat32 quick (quick meaning you want to perform a quick format which is faster than a full format and will work fine for this process).
* Entering the assign command gives the USB drive a drive letter, making it easy to access from Windows Explorer
* Then you can copy everything from the Windows 7 installation DVD onto the USB key – the easiest way to do it is good old drag and drop.
* Now you’re done – and you can insert the flash drive into the computer on which you want to install Windows 7.
* Now boot the system – and the installation will start. It will be much faster than installing from DVD but otherwise the installation will proceed as it normally would.

7 thoughts on “Installing Windows 7 from a flash drive – faster and more convenient

  1. Muriel

    Too many computer manufacturers today, don’t provide reinstall media. One of the first things they say to do
    when you first get your computer is to make your own reinstall DVD/CD.

    I have few questions regarding this….

    1) When you make this reinstall DVD, does that mean all the preinstalled “crap” is transferred to your reinstall DVD? The first thing I did was make a system restore, then use PCDecrapifier.

    2) Could I have copied Win 7 files directly from my harddrive to a USB flash drive, and skip making the reinstall DVD/CD?

    Reply
    1. infoave Post author

      A good point. The consumer should only buy a computer from a company that provides a Windows DVD. I know that Dell offers this – but you have to ask for it (normally). My Windows 7 laptop is a Dell and it has a Windows 7 DVD (not a reinstallation or so-called “recovery disk”). It also included media for reinstalling all the drivers, etc.

      A reinstallation disk or so-called System Recovery Disk restores your computer back to the way it was the day you bought it. This means it includes all the crapware, trialware, and other garbage that came installed on your computer when it was brand new. You’d have to use PCDecapifier again if you used that if you used the recovery disk.

      No you can’t copy the files from your hard drive to a USB and make a system installation USB.

      Reply
  2. Ron

    What is the recommended size of a flash drive
    to handle this task in copying the Windows 7
    installation disk to it?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. infoave Post author

      A DVD (the medium on which Windows 7 normally comes) holds about 4GB) so you would need a flash drive of at least 4GB. Of course if you got a larger flash drive, you could use the additional space for other things.

      Reply
  3. Markus

    An even easier way to create a Windows 7 bootable USB drive is using Microsofts Windows 7 USB/DVD download tool: It can be downloaded for free from Microsoft or CNET. You basically download the .iso of the version of Windows you want to install. Then download the Microsoft USB/DVD download tool. Install it and follow a few prompts to select the .iso, the flash disk to put Windows on and it’ll do all the rest itself. Here are the links:
    http://www.microsoftstore.com/

    CNET Link

    Reply
    1. infoave Post author

      This only applies if you download Windows 7 from the Microsoft store. We’re thinking most people don’t get Windows 7 that way.

      Reply
  4. JP

    well most people savvy enough to attempt this should have no trouble making an iso from their disk if this indeed requires one. The microsoft tool should be fine with any win7 iso right? personally I have win7 through msdn since I’m a cs major at purdue and I know the microsoft tool works with that iso

    Reply

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