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Is it possible to install Windows 7 (Current RTM Version) on a computer without using removable media like DVD or USB?

The first thing that comes to my mind is through the network, but I don't have experience of doing a *fresh install of Windows 7 *via the network**.

How to install Windows 7 via the network without any removable media?

P.S. I know some may think that doing so, is just a waste of time and it's easier to do it with removable media, but in the current situation the target PC neither has CD/DVD Drive nor supports booting from USB. And in addition to that, the target computer is connected to the network via a wireless connection (I don't know if it will cause any problems with the installation).

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9 Answers 9

up vote 37 down vote accepted

I just did this (2011-04-01), and this question consistently ranked high in my googling, so I'll throw down a way-after-the-fact answer with the notes about what I learned. Hopefully this will fill in some blanks.

Source OS was Win7 x64.


Source machine:

This machine must have a static IPv4 address. This example will use 192.168.0.1.

This machine must have a Windows installation in a shared folder somewhere. This example will use .\win7

This example will log in to the source machine with user TEST and password test.

Use tftpboot to fire up a DHCP server (gives an IP to a computer when requested).
This will also start a TFTP server for all of the file transfers.

There should be a folder called boot\ in the tftpboot directory which contains an installation of Windows PE.

Start tftpd64.exe (or tftpd32.exe), open the settings, use default settings, and change:

  • IP pool starting addresss: Whatever, the pool of IPs to draw from
  • Size of pool: Must be > 2
  • Boot File: boot\pxeboot.com (will dump into Windows PE environment)
  • Mask: 255.255.255.0 works fine.
  • Uncheck "Ping address before assignation"
  • Check "Bind DHCP to this address"

Restart the program to ensure changes are in effect.

Receiver machine:

Run a network boot from the receiver machine. (The DHCP server will assign an IP).

The boot file will be transferred and run. Press F12 to tell Windows PE to do something.

Wait a while (30-60 seconds). A command prompt will appear and load. Wait until a cursor is available.

A drive must be assigned to the root folder on the Source machine. To do this:

X:\Windows\system32>net use z: \\192.168.0.1\win7

A username of a user on the source machine, and password, must be entered.

Enter the user name for '192.168.0.1': 192.168.0.1\TEST
Enter the password for 192.169.0.1: test
The command completed successfully.

Navigate over to the new directory (z:\) and fire away. Commands will have a long delay but should work eventually.

Links:

http://tftpd32.jounin.net/tftpd32_download.html (DHCP server x86 or x64, no boot\ dir)

WinPE link removed <-- You'll have to get a legal copy of WinPE. Search on Microsoft's website for the Windows AIK (Automated Installation Kit). It will have WinPE in it, and you can use that as the boot image (winpe.wim).

http://www.geeksonhigh.com/hardware/cannot-boot-from-windows-7-cd-try-pxe

http://certcollection.org/forum/topic/28167-installing-windows-7-over-the-network-using-pxe-booting-and-tftp/

Troubleshooting:

If you run into an error "autorun.dll" could not be loaded or is corrupt setup can not continue error code (0xC1). This means your version of WinPE is mismatched with your Windows ISO. Type ver at the WinPE prompt. You'll get something like 6.*.****.

Here's a rough table of ver to WinPE version to Windows ISO:

|   ver    | Win PE Version | Matching Windows ISO | Background Colors |
------------------------------------------------------------------------
| 6.0.6*** |     2.*        |    Windows Vista     |  Blue and Green   |
| 6.1.7600 |     3.0        |      Windows 7       |      Gray         |
| 6.1.7601 |     3.1        |    Windows 7 SP1     |      ???          |
| 6.2.9200 |     4.0        |      Windows 8       |      ???          |
| 6.3.9600 |     5.0        |     Windows 8.1      |      ???          |

Windows AIK links:

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Very close to the way i did it. Thanks for providing full guide. You earn my vote and tick :) –  George Apr 1 '11 at 10:30
    
Whoa unexpected. Thanks! –  Steve Apr 3 '11 at 23:42
    
I get error 53 on "net use" command and 1231 when I ping the server any idea what might be causing this? –  Nikhil Bhandari Sep 17 '11 at 1:36
1  
I don't get it. Is pxeboot.com part of Windows installation disk or tftp ? Because I don't have it anywhere. Therefore client machine fails to boot. –  ruslan Jan 30 '12 at 7:53
    
How do you connect the machines physically? I already have a router that assigns DHCP. Do I connect them to the router or what? –  moleculezz Jul 13 '12 at 6:19

Everyone who has tried this, can testify how hard it is to pull it off. Recently, I had the same problem to solve and I have done lots of reading and testing. In the end, the simplest tool for the job is Serva. At least in my opinion.

But even Serva is prone to failure. You will need a lot of work to get it to work. Also, its documentation is rather poorly structured and technical. So it is not that easy to understand how to set it up.

That's why I decided to give it a try and document the whole process myself, including the issues people are most likely to encounter. Since the whole thing is so complex, I published a long step by step guide: How to Install Any Version of Windows from Other Network Computers

I hope some people will find it useful.

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Thanks a million! I tried using tftp32/tftp64, but it didn't work for me since I did not have access to Windows PE and was not willing to download 3.4 GB of Windows 8 ADK to create it. Maybe there's an easier solution, but I couldn't pull it out. With Serva, I didn't even had to look for drivers, it managed without them. Your guide is very helpful and easy to follow. –  Nikola Malešević Aug 26 '13 at 12:17
    
Serva is not prone to failure and it has a pretty simple and extensive documentation. –  Pat Jul 17 at 16:26
    
I choose to disagree with you. –  Corporate Geek Jul 23 at 23:27

It's absolutely overkill for your purposes, but if anyone comes here looking for a solution for doing this to a lot of computers, Windows Server 2008 or higher can deploy installations of Windows over a network. Docs at: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc771670%28v=ws.10%29.aspx

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I did upgrade my notebook from Vista to Windows 7 without a DVD-Drive.

  1. clone the DVD into a ISO from a desktop.
  2. Install daemon tools list on the notebook.
  3. Step 3. Mount it, and install from the DVD Image.

That's all. NO SERVER, NO USB, NO NETWORK SETUP

It allows me to install a new instance of Windows.

After the installation, It move and backup the old(Vista's) C:\Users, Program Files, and Windows. to an old folder.

Without partitioning and without re-formatting. It is clean because:

  • No registry reused
  • No user account bring forward
  • No application bring forward

Copy your files from the backup folder to your new profile, and finally delete the backup folder and the ISO. Nothing left behind.

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Not close to answering the OP. –  Tim Jul 17 '12 at 13:11

If you have a Linux server, (AMAHI.org) mount you install DVD and edit your Samba config file - # 'nano /etc/samba/smb.conf' ..

Add the lines at the bottom -[DVD] enter then path = /media/UDF Volume/ then enter again and add - guest ok = yes enter Control X then y to save and enter to exit.

Then from you client got to network connections - shares and there you will find the image files.

If after copying of file your computer reboots and seems like it hangs just wait 10 more minutes and then if it still isn't doing anything reboot, but do not touch any keys. wait and watch for the balloons to start over starting windows.

If still nothing F8 into safemode and go to command prompt and at the c:net use y:\YOURSERVER\DVD and all should start again. Windows 7 just finished loading on my HTPC in the living room.

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You'll need the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2010 (MDT 2010).

And here's a tutorial: Deploying Windows 7.

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29 steps, that's got to be the longest tutorial i've seen... –  Chris Moutray Jul 18 '13 at 14:48

If you've got space, I'd copy the media contents to your PC via a network share and then install from that.

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With ... what environment to boot from? –  Joey Sep 16 '09 at 19:12
1  
OP doesn't specify that the machine doesn't have an OS. –  user3463 Sep 16 '09 at 19:32

See the following article "How to Install Vista on a M200 Without a CD Drive Using TFTP".
This contains detailed instructions for network installation using Vista, and should work for Win7 as well, and the setup may be applicable for yours. Your computer needs to support PXE booting for this to work. Read also the comments after the article, they seem pertinent.

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The way of booting pc via PXE worked but when trying to start setup in PXE enviorment, The windows setup says that the version is not compatible with the version on windows that i'm running. –  George Sep 16 '09 at 19:59
2  
Is it a 32bits/64bits problem? Does that help: support.microsoft.com/kb/932447 –  harrymc Sep 17 '09 at 5:55
    
Yes it did thanks ^_^ –  George Dec 21 '09 at 17:34
    
Another helpful link, more recent, along the same lines: cyberstreams.com/blog/?p=248 –  Steve Mar 31 '11 at 6:40

If you had a wired connection you could use PXE if the system supports it. I think you are SOL trying to do a remote install over wireless.

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protected by Ivo Flipse Jan 21 '11 at 7:26

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