I have Windows install on USB drive and would like to install it to a VMWare virtual machine.

When I create the new virtual machine and select "install from" it displays:

Installer disc - No drives available
Installer disc image file (iso)

As you can see, it doesn't find any drives.

USB drive is plugged in to my PC and is visible from system.

My PC has no CD drive, but why I can't select another drive for installation (for example a USB one)?

vm wizard picture

  • can you place a screen shot of the image you are trying to install?
    – Kunal
    Sep 12, 2014 at 10:03
  • What do you mean by “I have Windows iso on USB drive”? Is there an actual ISO file on your drive?
    – Daniel B
    Sep 12, 2014 at 10:43
  • @DanielB Sorry, this was mistake. " Windows iso on USB drive">> "Windows install on USB drive"
    – vico
    Sep 12, 2014 at 11:28

8 Answers 8


I can confirm that booting from USB is possible without any 3rd-party utils like "Plop Boot Manager". Just did it on VM Workstation 15 Pro (15.5.1). Here's what you need to do to boot from USB:

  1. Insert USB flash
  2. Power On your new Virtual Machine.

At this moment you'll see on VM screen:

Attempting to start up from:
-> EFI VMWare Virtual SCSI Hard Drive (0.0)... No Media
-> EFI VMWare Virtual SATA CDROM Drive (1.0)... No Media
-> EFI Netwrok...

Now you have 60 seconds to do following step:

  1. Go to menu "VM->Removable Devices->Kingston Data Traveller 3.0->Connect (Disconnect from host)" (of course instead of "Kingston Data Traveller 3.0" you'll see you own USB device name)

  2. Wait when "EFI Network..." stage will be timed out (60 seconds) and then it will boot normally from your USB.

If "EFI Network" stage will end too quick, you'll see Boot manager. Just press Ctrl+Alt+Insert (this is replacement for Ctrl+Alt+Del) and then all should go normally.

  • Worked for me. Thx!
    – Atchoum
    Mar 31, 2020 at 12:01
  • These steps are what I was missing, thanks so much! Had to also modify *.vmx file by adding following line 'firmware="efi"' Also made sure usb.restrictions.defaultAllow is set to "TRUE". And in settings for VM I had to set USB Controller compatibility to USB 3.1
    – Brian
    Apr 12, 2023 at 18:06

VMware’s BIOS does not support booting from USB drives in the virtual machine. There’s another way, though: Plop Boot Manager. It comes with an ISO image that can be used with VMware. I believe there’s also a floppy image, if you prefer oldschool solutions.

After booting Plop, you are presented with a screen with bad fonts. ;) From this screen, you can select where you want to boot from, including the option to boot from USB drives.

  • I have tried this, but Plop doesn't sees my flash :(
    – vico
    Sep 12, 2014 at 11:24
  • Are you sure it’s correctly connected (green orb on drive icon in VMware)? You might have to drop USB mode to 2.0 for your VM. I’ll look into it further when I get home.
    – Daniel B
    Sep 12, 2014 at 12:17

Assuming you have the hard drive space, just rip the contents of your thumb drive and make a bootable ISO out of it. Then just boot to that. ImgBurn is good for that.

After re-reading, it looks like you already have an ISO on the thumb drive. VMware can't use your physical flash drive to boot, so just copy the ISO file on to your local hard drive and install it from there.


I have found a method that works even without plop:

dd if=/dev/usb_stick of=image.img

VBoxManage convertfromraw --format VMDK image.img image.vmdk

After you obtain the image.vmdk file, add a secondary HDD based on that file. It will ask you to upgrade that file's vmdk format, agree on that.

Now boot your machine from that secondary drive and install the operating system on your first HDD. When done, remove the secondary HDD altogether.

  • The formatted image will be used by vmware. VirtualBox tools are also available on Windows, and there are "dd" equivalents on Windows. Nov 17, 2016 at 15:15

I know it's an old question, but in case someone need the info: on VMWare 14, you need to modify the .vmx file, adding the next line:


With it, the VM will detect the USB device.


Using VMware workstation 15 Player Version 15.5.1 build-15018445: adding firmware="efi" to the VM's .vmx file allowed booting to EFI and booting from usb after connecting the desired usb to the vm and sending ctrl+alt+del

Note: it will take it a while to get to the usb boot, be patient.


Make an ISO of the installer and copy the ISO to the host computer's hard drive, then in the properties for the VM after you've created it or (IIRC) when first setting up the VM, you can tell VMWare to use an ISO image file as the CD/DVD, browse to wherever you've stored the ISO and go.


go to VM>removable devices and from there select the USB of choice and click connect to VM. restart your VM afterwards

  • 1
    Are you sure VMWare support booting from a USB device? I found lots of evidence it doesn't support it, but no evidence, even the most recent versions of VMWare Workstation support this.
    – Ramhound
    Jan 20, 2018 at 4:38

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