I have already read How to write bootable iso to a partition? and How do I place a bootable ISO on a USB drive?, but here it's a bit different:

I'd like to put the Windows 10 (or 7) bootable ISO installation disk into an external disk partition (and not into a USB flash drive). How to do this?

More generally, how to write a bootable ISO to a disk partition with Windows?


  • The latter is important because the main solutions of How do I place a bootable ISO on a USB drive? don't work: Rufus, for example, doesn't offer the possibility to do it on a hard drive partition (I just tried now, the "Device" list is empty ; when I insert a USB flash drive, here it works)

  • If possible, I'd like to install the bootable Windows 10 installer ISO into (bootable) Partition 2 of a disk. Partition 1 of the same disk is where Windows will be eventually installed ; once it will be installed, I will be able to delete this no-longer needed Partition 2.

Why to do this? Here's the reason: I've installed Windows many many times, but at the end it's always slow from a USB flash drive. A nice solution would be: put the ISO installer on Partition 2 of the actual disk where it's going to be installed, then boot on this Partition 2, and install Windows on Partition 1. Then you can remove Partition 2. It should be very fast, in the case it's a SSD for example.

  • 3
    Is there a reason why you go this insane route?
    – LPChip
    Commented Nov 5, 2019 at 12:13
  • @LPChip Yes ;) Let me explain: I've installed Windows many many times, but at the end it's always slow from a USB flash drive. A nice solution would be: put the ISO installer on Partition 2 of the actual disk where it's going to be installed, then boot on this Partition 2, and install Windows on Partition 1. Then you can remove Partition 2. Very fast (in the case it's a SSD for example).
    – Basj
    Commented Nov 5, 2019 at 12:15
  • 1
    A better way to go about this would be to use a WinPE.wim or WinRE.wim and add that to Partition 2, ensuring Partition 2 is large enough to fit the install.wim from the install image. WinPE: Create bootable WinPE media or Create a bootable WinPE 5.0 x64 USB drive. Keep in mind BIOS should have 3 partitions (WinRE, boot, OS) and UEFI should have 4 (WinRE, EFI, MSR, OS)
    – JW0914
    Commented Nov 5, 2019 at 12:18
  • 2
    An even easier option for this route, is to install windows once, then make an image backup, and store that image backup on your second partition. If you then need to install windows, you simply restore that backup. But keep in mind, USB 3.0 is very fast. Combine this with an SSD for the main drive, and windows installs should take about 15 to 20 minutes.
    – LPChip
    Commented Nov 5, 2019 at 12:25
  • 1
    @Basj You're conflating two different things... A bootable ISO is created, but, on its own, cannot be used to boot from - it first must be written to a storage device (USB / HDD) or VHD. The Windows installer ISO is WinPE (Windows Preinstallation Environment) with a few extra WinPE OCs (Optional Components) installed into the WinPE filesystem for the installer executable and support files.
    – JW0914
    Commented Nov 5, 2019 at 12:39

5 Answers 5


Rufus developer here.

There's a non publicized cheat mode in Rufus that may allow you to use an external non USB drive like an external USB one, and that's Ctrl-Alt-F. Basically what this does is that it might enable Rufus to list drives that are seen as removable/hot-plug by Windows, regardless of whether they are USB based. Thus, provided that your BIOS/UEFI firmware properly tags them (you may have to fiddle with your BIOS options for that, but be mindful that not all BIOSes allow you to do that), you might be able to use an e-SATA drive.

Now, here comes the BIG DISCLAIMER: The reason why this is a non publicized option is because you will receive absolutely no support regardless of whether the option works or not and also and I make also NO GUARANTEE WHATSOEVER that it'll work for the purpose you want. For instance if Rufus happens to destroy valuable data while using Ctrl-Alt-F, you are 100% on your own. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

I will also point out that this will still result in the whole drive being partitioned and reformatted, so it'll only work if you can dedicate a whole drive. If you want partition preservation then you're on your own.

  • 1
    For some reason there are no extra entries after pressing Ctrl+Alt+F even though I see the filtering of non removable drives was removed. Maybe a partition needs to be present and have certain properties.
    – Aalex Gabi
    Commented Jan 9, 2022 at 14:43
  • 2
    As I said, Ctrl-Alt-F only ever has a chance to work in showing an internal disk IF that disk as been set as removable in the BIOS (which, for internal SATA drives, means it must be seen as e-SATA). It's a pure hardware property issue. The BIOS (and Windows) have to see your drive in a specific way. The content of the drive is completely irrelevant. And again, I make NO GUARANTEE WHATSOEVER that, even if you set the right property in your BIOS, it'll work for you.
    – Akeo
    Commented Jan 9, 2022 at 18:06

After further tests, here is an (easy) working solution:

  • Get a Windows10 ISO from https://www.microsoft.com/fr-fr/software-download/windows10 (it comes with MediaCreationTool.exe), the one I have is 3.23 GB

  • Use 7zip to extract its content to the disk partition you want (I know it might be strange, but it works!)

  • Run diskmgmt.msc and mark this partition as "Active"

  • Reboot the computer and boot on this disk, it works

  • Do the normal installation as usual.

I just installed a Windows 10 that way a few minutes ago.

  • 1
    This did not work for me. I created an iso. Extracted to a partition with 7zip, marked it as active, but the computer is not recognizing that partition as a boot device on start. Granted, I tried to do this with a simple flash drive, so maybe this doesn't work with flash drives? Does NTFS vs FAT32 matter when formatting the partition?
    – KroniK907
    Commented Oct 21, 2021 at 21:38
  • 1
    After much experimentation, I MUST use a FAT32 partition for my particular hardware to recognize the partition as bootable, and setting a partition as active did not seem to make a difference if I had multiple bootable partitions (both linux and windows) on the same USB drive. My hardware wanted to default to linux no matter what, unless I pressed the F12 key on startup to get the boot device menu to open up. Otherwise these instructions worked as advertised and I now have multiple installers including windows on a single USB drive.
    – KroniK907
    Commented Oct 21, 2021 at 23:43

Based on @Basj answer and my attempt. This probably only applies if you want to do a clean install of Windows 11 from Windows 10 without an USB drive.

If you are booting from and efi capable bios on a gpt partition:

  • create a NTFS partition on one of your hard drives that is using GPT partition mode
  • double click on the iso image to mount it
  • copy all files and paste them into the partition that you created

I was surprised to see that this works. I have no idea why given that the partition I created is not even marked as an EFI partition.


"dd" would work well in this task (writing an ISO file to a partition). I don't know if it has a Windows version or not, but you can boot your computer with a Linux Live usb, then use the "dd" tool from there.


The Windows ADK (Win7: AIK) and WinPE files are required for creating the bootable WinPE UFD filesystem, as an extracted ISO won't work on its own since it's the sources\boot.wim that's being booted:

  • You can try copying the ISOs contents to a partition and adding the boot.wim to the BCD Store via BcdEdit, however the correct way to do this is the steps below
    • This is not recommended, as Windows becomes a dual-boot setup when adding a bootable WIM to the BCD store; every boot will ask you to choose which install to boot to
  • Windows auto-configures WinRE [Windows Recovery Environment] during the OS install, which can be booted to in numerous ways that do not rely on the BCD Store

The most efficient way to accomplish what's asked is to perform the steps below, as MakeWinPEMedia will create a bootable partition not reliant on the BCD Store that can be selected from the BIOS/UEFI boot menu.

General Info:

WinPE is a self-contained boot WIM [Windows IMage] containing WinPE OCs [Optional Components]:

  • WinPE-Setup is required for Windows Setup, which has seven configuration passes:
    • Upon selecting Install: windowsPE
    • Setup boots to WinPE: offlineServicing
    • Setup boots to Windows: specialize, auditSystem, auditUser, oobeSystem

There are two routes for customizing a WinPE boot.wim/WinPE.wim/WinRE.wim:

  • Build your own:
    • Recommended over customizing an existing custom WIM, as it's more storage efficient and doesn't add a significant amount of time to customization

  • Create one using WinPESE, which creates a normal Windows GUI within WinPE:
    • Cons: the WinPE.wim/WinRE.wim balloons from ~320MB to ~1.5GB+, and the larger the WIM, the longer it takes to boot it, as all data within the WIM has to be mounted to a RAM disk [X:]
    • Pros: Offers a whole host of advanced troubleshooting tools and, if regularly capturing WIMs of the C: partition, allows for basic work to still be done while booted to WinPE


  1. Install the Windows ADK and WinPE files:
    1. ADK (Win7: AIK) for the version of Windows installed
      (Setup: Windows Preinstallation Environment)
    2. ≥ v1809: Windows PE Add-On is separate
      (ADK still required)
  2. Open an Admin terminal: WinKey+RpowershellCtrl+Shift+OK
    1. Update system PATH:
      (Update paths accordingly if not using Win10 or an x64 OS)
      Cmd /c Setx /M Path "%PATH%;C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Kits\10\Assessment and Deployment Kit\Deployment Tools;C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Kits\10\Assessment and Deployment Kit\Deployment Tools\amd64\BCDBoot;C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Kits\10\Assessment and Deployment Kit\Deployment Tools\amd64\DISM;C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Kits\10\Assessment and Deployment Kit\Deployment Tools\amd64\Oscdimg;C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Kits\10\Assessment and Deployment Kit\Deployment Tools\WSIM;C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Kits\10\Assessment and Deployment Kit\Windows Preinstallation Environment;"
    2. Close, then reopen, the Admin terminal to reload $env:PATH

Build WinPE Filesystem

  1. Required:
    1. Mount WinPE boot image:
      # Load ADK variables:
        Cmd /K "C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Kits\10\Assessment and Deployment Kit\Deployment Tools\DandISetEnv.bat"
      # Copy WinPE files to working directory C:\WinPE:
        CopyPE amd64 "C:\WinPE"
      # Mount WinPE WIM:
        Dism /Mount-Image /ImageFile:"C:\WinPE\media\sources\boot.wim" /Index:1 /MountDir:"C:\WinPE\mount"
    2. Add WinPE Optional Components:
      # Create OCs directory link in working directory C:\WinPE:
        MkLink /J "C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Kits\10\Assessment and Deployment Kit\Windows Preinstallation Environment\amd64\WinPE_OCs" "C:\WinPE\OCs"
      # Add OCs: (OC and language CABs required for each OC)
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\<name>.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\en-us\<name>_en-us.cab"
      The following are the minimum I recommend:
      (dependencies exist, add in the order listed)
      • PreReqs:
        WinPE-WMI.cab, WinPE-NetFx.cab, WinPE-Scripting.cab
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\WinPE-WMI.cab.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\en-us\WinPE-WMI.cab_en-us.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\WinPE-NetFx.cab.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\en-us\WinPE-NetFx.cab_en-us.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\WinPE-Scripting.cab.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\en-us\WinPE-Scripting.cab_en-us.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\WinPE-EnhancedStorage.cab.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\en-us\WinPE-EnhancedStorage.cab_en-us.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\WinPE-FMAPI.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\en-us\WinPE-FMAPI_en-us.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\WinPE-SecureStartup.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\en-us\WinPE-SecureStartup_en-us.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\WinPE-Dot3Svc.cab.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\en-us\WinPE-Dot3Svc.cab_en-us.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\winpe-pppoe.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\en-us\winpe-pppoe_en-us.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\winpe-rndis.cab.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\en-us\winpe-rndis.cab_en-us.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\winpe-wds-tools.cab.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\en-us\winpe-wds-tools.cab_en-us.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\winpe-wifi-package.cab.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\en-us\winpe-wifi-package.cab_en-us.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\winpe-powershell.cab.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\en-us\winpe-powershell.cab_en-us.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\winpe-dismcmdlets.cab.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\en-us\winpe-dismcmdlets.cab_en-us.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\winpe-platformid.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\en-us\winpe-platformid_en-us.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\winpe-securebootcmdlets.cab.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\en-us\winpe-securebootcmdlets.cab_en-us.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\winpe-storagewmi.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\en-us\winpe-storagewmi_en-us.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\winpe-rejuv.cab.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\en-us\winpe-rejuv.cab_en-us.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\winpe-srt.cab.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\en-us\winpe-srt.cab_en-us.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\winpe-winrecfg.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\en-us\winpe-winrecfg_en-us.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\winpe-setup.cab"
        Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\OCs\en-us\winpe-setup_en-us.cab"
    3. Set WinPE default temp space to 512MB: (default: 32MB)
      Dism /Set-ScratchSpace:512 /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount"

  1. Optional - Add custom:
    1. Drivers: (Network drivers)
      Dism /Add-Driver /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /Driver:"C:\Path\to\driver.inf"
    2. Files/directories: Copy to C:\WinPE\mount
      • QDir Portable provides an Explorer-like GUI with advanced functionality and is highly customizable via its Q-Dir.ini
      • Enable to view hidden files in WinPE's SYSTEM Registry hive:
        # Load WinPE SYSTEM hive:
          Reg Load HKLM\WinPE "C:\WinPE\mount\Windows\System32\config\SYSTEM"
        # Show hidden files:
          Reg Add HKLM\WinPE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced /v Hidden /t REG_DWORD /d 1
          Reg Add HKLM\WinPE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced /v ShowSuperHidden /t REG_DWORD /d 1
        # Show file extensions:
          Reg Add HKLM\WinPE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced /v HideFileExt /t REG_DWORD /d 0
        # Unload Hive:
          Reg Unload HKLM\WinPE
    3. Startup scripts to: C:\WinPE\mount\Windows\System32\Startnet.cmd
    4. Startup apps (such as QDir) to: C:\WinPE\mount\Windows\System32\Winpeshl.ini
    5. Background:
      1. Change permissions of C:\WinPE\mount\Windows\System32\winpe.jpg:
        # Change ownership to the Administrators group:
          TakeOwn /A /F "C:\WinPE\mount\Windows\System32\winpe.jpg"
        # Give Administrators group Full permissions:
          Icacls "C:\WinPE\mount\Windows\System32\winpe.jpg" /SetOwner Administrators
      2. Replace winpe.jpg with a custom .jpg
    6. Power Scheme: for Performance, add to C:\WinPE\mount\Windows\System32\startnet.cmd:
      powercfg /s 8c5e7fda-e8bf-4a96-9a85-a6e23a8c635c

  1. If needed, apply any .msu updates to WinPE from the Microsoft Update Catalog:
    # Add update package:
      Dism /Add-Package /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /PackagePath:"C:\WinPE\windows10.0-kbxxxxx.msu"
    # Lock in the update:
      Dism /Cleanup-Image /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount\Windows" /StartComponentCleanup /ResetBase

  2. Commit changes, unmount, and export image:
    # Optimize:
      Dism /Cleanup-Image /Image:"C:\WinPE\mount" /StartComponentCleanup /ResetBase
    # Unmount:
      Dism /Unmount-Image /MountDir:"C:\WinPE\mount" /Commit
    # Export:
      Dism /Export-Image /SourceImageFile:"C:\WinPE\media\sources\boot.wim" /SourceIndex:1 /DestinationImageFile:"C:\WinPE\WinPE_Custom.wim" /DestinationName:"Customized WinPE & Includes: QDir, Show Hidden Files" /Compress:Max /Bootable /CheckIntegrity
    # Replace original:
      Del "C:\WinPE\media\sources\boot.wim"
      Copy "C:\WinPE\WinPE_Custom.wim" "C:\WinPE\media\sources\boot.wim"

  3. Create WinPE boot media via MakeWinPEMedia:
    • Partition or USB:
      MakeWinPEMedia /Ufd "C:\WinPE" F:
    • WinRE Replacement:
      Required: WinPE-Rejuv & WinPE-SRT
      1. Mount WinRE partition:
        DiskPartLis VolSel Vol #Assign Letter=ZExit
      2. Configure WinRE: [ReAgentC]
        # Disable WinRE:
          ReAgentC /Disable
        # Copy modified WinPE WIM to Recovery partition:
          Del "Z:\Recovery\WindowsRE\WinRE.wim"
          Copy "C:\WinPE\media\sources\boot.wim" "Z:\Recovery\WindowsRE\WinRE.wim"
        # Set WinRE Path:
          ReAgentC /SetREimage /Path "Z:\Recovery\WindowsRE"
        # Enable WinRE:
          ReAgentC /Enable
        # Verify:
          ReAgentC /Info
      3. Unmount WinRE partition: DiskPartSel Vol ZRemoveExit
    • ISO: (via OsCdImg)
      MakeWinPEMedia /Iso "C:\WinPE" "C:\WinPE\WinPE.iso"

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