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I have Windows installers that I obtained through my university. The installers come in the form of an .iso archive that contains the setup.exe file and autorun.inf. My notebook does not have a cd burner, nor do I want to go that option. Additionally The .iso archives do not contain any boot info, so some of the other methods I have investigated don't work for me. Currently I am able to boot Windows Vista on my old drive so if there is a process I can do from there that should work. I have a USB stick that is big enough to hold the Vista .iso. So is there a way to make my USB stick install Vista, and how do I do that without the boot files that I would normally obtain from a cd? Thank you.

I am trying to install to a fresh hard drive. I cannot just run the setup from my old drive. It is a notebook so I cannot have one drive be slave.

EDIT #2:
The installers that I have are not the standard ones from a Windows DVD.

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up vote 0 down vote accepted

You can use WinToFlash to builds USB sticks from Windows installs:


You would need to mount the iso as a virtual disk.


Did I understand correctly that you're trying to replace an old system disk with a new one, while staying with Vista as the operating system ?
If that's the case, you don't need an installation cd at all : just image your existing drive to the usb, replace the disk and image it back. To do that, Install Clonezilla Live on the usb as bootable - the documentation in the above link explains it all.

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oy, that used to be my answer :P +1 – Molly7244 Oct 31 '09 at 23:20
Tried this. Used Virtual Clone Drive to mount the .iso files. From there tried running WinToFlash, but the program complained about the mounted drive not being a correct Windows location. – Samuel Nov 1 '09 at 5:02
@Molly: not any more ... – harrymc Nov 1 '09 at 7:48
@Samuel: The problem is probably that the iso is not a boot cd. Can you post a screenshot of what's launched by setup.exe? – harrymc Nov 1 '09 at 7:50
I would, but because I am already working from Vista, it won't let me launch the setup. But I am able to run my Win 7 setup and this is what comes up – Samuel Nov 1 '09 at 19:28

From a command prompt, and assuming you only have one HDD, plug the flash drive in and run

select disk 1
create partition primary
select partition 1
format fs=fat32

If you have more than one HDD then list disk in Diskpart will show you which one you want.

This will make your flash drive bootable and ready for the files.

Then copy the contents of the .iso to the flash drive. You can extract the contents with 7-Zip

Edit: After reading your comments, the reason that you cannot boot your CD is because your school gave you a CD containing only SP1, not the complete operating system.

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This is creating a partition and formatting it. The .iso does not have boot files so it would be equivalent to trying to boot a usb with a bunch of .exe's on it. – Samuel Oct 31 '09 at 23:13
You can't extract the ISO's contents with 7-zip as 7-zip does not support UDF (unless that changed in the last two months). WinRAR can do it, however. And what do you mean with "does not have boot files"? Simply copying the ISO's contents on a flash drive did boot fine here, for both Vista and 7, so have you even tried? All Windows Vista SKUs have the exact same DVD contents (well, excluding bit-ness, but that's aside the point) so it's unlikely that you have an ISO which is somehow different. – Joey Nov 1 '09 at 0:50
I used WinRAR to extract and all that is in the file is autorun.inf, setup.exe, Windows6.0-KB936330-X64.exe, and Windows6.0-KB936330-X86.exe. Am I correct in thinking that these files by themselves will not boot on their own. Doesn't there need to be an operating system to boot the .exe files? In any case I tried that method first and it didn't work. – Samuel Nov 1 '09 at 1:53
@Samuel - Those are not a complete operating system. Those are the installers for SP1. Your school's IT department gave you the wrong CD. @Johannes - You can certainly extract an .iso with 7-Zip, I've been using it for at least the past year for sure, almost definitely longer. – MDMarra Nov 1 '09 at 4:24
No they are difinitely the correct ones. My school participates in a Microsoft program where we go through a distributer who is not Microsoft. The installers work fine if you are installing from a existing Windows setup, in other words by just launching the installer. Is there some way I could install dos and launch the setup executables from there? – Samuel Nov 1 '09 at 5:00

Assuming you have some relatively recent version of Windows already installed, and you don't need to repartition anything, there's an even easier method of installing Vista that doesn't even require a USB stick.

Simply mount the ISO (Daemon tools, etc), and tell it to install in your current partition (or, even better, if you already have a different partition to install to, tell it to install there). It will copy the files over before rebooting, so you don't need the physical media at any point.

Be warned, though, if the install fails for whatever reason, and you installed over your old version of Windows, you will probably need physical media to recover it.

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I should have mentioned, I am installing to a fresh hard drive and it is on a notebook so I can't have a hard drive be slave. – Samuel Nov 1 '09 at 0:18

Microsoft Has an official tool for this.

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Care to elaborate? – MDMarra Oct 31 '09 at 23:06
I have also tried this tool. All it does is format my usb and extract the .iso file to it. Still doesn't work. – Samuel Nov 1 '09 at 5:04

None of the methods worked so I decided to install XP first because my XP .iso came with the boot files. Still it was not an easy task to get to work. I eventually found WinSetupFromUSB which is a fantastic program for getting your USB to boot XP. The program has a walkthrough that tells you exactly what you need to do, all of which can be done through the program. The best part of this is that it does not expect you to have a cd drive or a floppy drive (most of the others did).

WinSetupFromUSB can be found here

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