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Install Win7 from USB

Well, I tried searching and nothing came up. Hopefully this is not a repeat question but...

Whats the easiest way to install windows 7 from a pen drive?

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probably a duplicate of superuser.com/questions/62193/install-win7-from-usb (and likely others) but i'm not sure which one to keep... –  quack quixote Jun 15 '10 at 2:54
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marked as duplicate by Ivo Flipse Jun 15 '10 at 11:17

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4 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Simply put, get the stick and just copy the root of the Windows 7 DVD to it.

You should not need to do anything special and as long as the computer supports boot from USB, it should work just like the DVD only a lot quicker. I do this for installs and typically have it complete in less than 20 minutes (on high speed USB Sticks).

You may also want to take a look at the WAIK (Windows Automated Installation Kit), this will enable you to make unattend.xml files (previously called answer files) that automate all the prompts during Windows Setup that even on top of the above, can significantly reduce the Windows install time.

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No need to make the usb device bootable using diskpart or anything like that? I'm assuming NTFS is the preferred file system format? –  devnull Sep 27 '09 at 18:49
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Edited to contain more info - Nope, as long as the pc supports boot from USB, you can use anything without anything special. I use a standard 4GB memory stick and it works well. –  William Hilsum Sep 27 '09 at 18:51
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if it only were as easy as you describe it here, Wil! it is essential to make the stick bootable, no bootsector, no boot. or how do you explain such extensive guides like this: intowindows.com/… –  Molly7244 Sep 28 '09 at 1:17
    
Simple, you only need to do this for older machines. Newer machines / motherboards do all the hard work for you. Bootsector is not needed for modern USB booting - I got a brand new 4GB memory stick, it only has FAT32, all I did was copy across the DVD and it works fine - It is how I deploy to all the machines I build daily. –  William Hilsum Sep 28 '09 at 2:01
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I believe you need to pepper you USB stick a bit.

Have a look here at the Vista/Win7 diskpart command:

http://www.mydellmini.com/forum/windows-7/4097-install-win-7-via-usb-4-easy-steps-2.html

The details are fairly simple:

Start>Run> cmd
diskpart
list disk
select disk  (whichever corresponds to your usb from above)
clean
create partition primary
active
format quick fs=fat32
assign
exit

I have personally tried this with great success.

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The stick has to be formatted by Windows Vista or 7 to have the proper boot sector that will load the modern bootloader and not the old ntldr. If you only have an XP machine or similar old available there is a bootsect.exe tool on the DVD image that can write a new bootsector to a partition to make it boot either old-style or new-style.

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Most certainly the easiest way to install Windows from USB:

WinToFlash starts a wizard that will help pull over the contents of a Windows installation CD or DVD and prep the USB drive to become a bootable replacement for the optical drive. It can also do this with your live CD (e.g. BartPE).

enter image description here

Believe me, as a long-time netbook user, I know that it doesn't get any easier! I wish we hat this little gem two years ago.

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