How to Create a Windows 7 Bootable USB Disk: This article has been updated and re-posted.
This blog post is intended to act as a guide to my fellow classmates who own mini-laptops that have no optical drive and are thus faced with the option of installing Windows 7 from a bootable flash drive or an external optical drive or external hard disk. I’ve helped a few since this has always been an issue. I am sharing what I know with them and everyone else. I love using the command prompt and so this procedure is for using the command prompt to create a bootable flash drive. I know there are various software available out there for doing this task in a quick manner but hey, this is the surest way of creating a bootable USB disk without disturbing your computer system’s registry with so many needless entries in the name of installing a program for creating a bootable flash drive. However, apart from my classmates, others who may find this post useful please recommend it. So how do you create a Windows 7 bootable USB disk?
Have a USB flash drive that can accommodate fully the size of the Windows 7 version you want to install. For instance, the .ISO file for Windows 7 Ultimate for 32-bit computers is about 2.32 Gb and that of the 64-bit version is 3.47 Gb. Therefore, in my case, for the 32-bit version and the 64-bit I’ll require at least a flash drive of 4 Gigabytes for each of them.
- Plug in the USB flash drive into a high speed USB port on your computer. (Check your Device Manager to determine which port on your computer is the high speed USB port. However, other USB ports may work fine as well but I highly recommend the high speed USB port.)
- Go to Start Menu > Accessories > Command Prompt (as shown above) and right click on Command prompt choosing Run as Administrator from the resulting drop-down menu.
- In the cmd.exe window type diskpart then hit ENTER (no space in the command “diskpart”)
- Type list disk (there’s a space in the command “list[SPACE]disk”) then press ENTER (subsequently, after every step from here hit the ENTER button). Take a look at the size column and figure out which disk number your USB drive is. In my exhibit here, my disk is disk number one.
- Depending on what your disk number is, type select disk 1 then hit the ENTER button.
- I hope the flash drive or USB device you have plugged in and intend to use as a bootable drive is empty, else back up all your stuff since this process will completely wipe all the contents of the drive.Type clean then press ENTER.
This process now prepares the USB drive for the OS files and makes sure it is bootable.
- Type create partition primary then press ENTER.
- Type select partition 1 then press ENTER.
- Type active then press ENTER.
- Type format fs=fat32 then hit ENTER (note that there is a SPACE in the command “format[SPACE]fs=fat32”)
(If you wish to format your USB drive to another file format like NTFS then you’ll later have to run this command: Bootsect.exe/nt60 M: (there is a space in the command i.e. … nt60[SPACE]M: ) to put boot manager compatible files onto your USB flash drive to make it a bootable device. Remember M: represents the drive letter your USB flash drive has been assigned by the computer and you should replace it with the drive letter of your device accordingly. My exhibit device is herein assigned M: . I however don’t recommend this process of formatting to NTFS format) Give your computer time to format the USB flash drive as this could take a while.
- After you have formatted to whatever file system you chose in procedure 10, type assign then hit ENTER. (this assigns a new drive letter to the USB drive). An AutoPlay window like the one that pops up when you plug-in any plug n play media will appear (like in the screen shot below).