How To: Install Windows 7 from a USB Key!



+ Add a Comment


This has been up for a while, but anyone who needs an updated version of this article should know the following: Google "digital river Windows iso" if you want the latest ISO from MS to install using this method. Follow it exactly and it works...I didn't understand the command line stuff right off the bat, but I fooled with it until I got it, and it works just fine. Also, in spite of updates, a 4 GB USB stick still works, and I know because I am using one that comes in at 3.8 GB. If you need to do this, it works just fine.



Excellent. Finally re installing 7 on a mates dodgy laptop with a broken dvd drive. Had no luck with the useless "Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool". As for the file size someone else mentioned, had the original disc, pre service pack 1, so no problems with a 4gig drive just hours of updates after lol

Thank You



This was a great tip for the longest time. It no longer works with a 4gb USB key as it's 424mb short with all updates rolled in as of January 2014.

Just a heads up for those "saving time."


Watch this video for

install windows 7-8 from usb & selected file is NOT A VALID ISO file



Thanks for the informative How to guide it works great!!! Props to the author!!!



Hi there

First of all thank you for the easy steps to install win 7 from USB drive.

My issue here is after installing windows 7, I tried formating the USB drive but says WRITE PROTECTED.

Please hep me to solve this issue. I was able to delete the windows 7 inatallation files from the usb but i not able to either format it or copy new files.

Thankyou in advance.



I'm getting stuck at the boot/bootsect part.


My command line will be like




but when I type cd boot it says 'The system cannot find the path specificed"


If I just leave it at c:\Windows\System32 then CD boot will work but the whole bootsect stuff won't work.



I got the same thing did you find a fix ?



At the step where I had to copy the files from the disc over, it prompted me to keep the auto run on the usb, use the auto run from the disc, or use both.

I guess somewhere during the guide i made an auto run file on the USB drive i didn't know about...which one should i have used?



Did every thing you said but couldn't get it to work.

after searching found a web site that i had to translate from hebrew.

It's a computer hardware web site called

Go to the laptop section and look for the guide called "Win 7 To USB - 3 Easy Steps & Less Than 2 Min".

Good Luck !!




Barely fits on my 4GB USB drive

Microsoft must use one hell of a compressing program to fit ~20GB of OS onto 4GB of DVD



My attempt also failed. It got pretty much to the end when it gave me "invalid license key" so I had to reformat and do it over with just the disc... then it was ok. I guess you cannot use an OEM disc, it has to be files from the downloaded ISO image.





Hey everyone, 

I followed those instructions to a T and had no issues until I plugged in the usb stick.  I get this error:

Intel UNDI, PXE-2.1 (build 082)

Copyright 1997-2000 Intel Corporation

This Product is covered by one or more of the following patents:

US5,307,459, etc

For Realtek RTL8101E/8102E(L)/8103E(L) PCI-E Ethernet Controller v1.13 (081016)

PXE-E61: Media test failure, check cable

PXE-M0F: Exiting PXE ROM.


I'm trying to load from a Corsair 64gb Survivor GTR (yep its big) to a Toshiba NB205-N310BN-G (NetBook).

We have a corporate license for 32bit Windows 7 and just can't get it to boot properly from the USB as that message is the first thing that comes up as it attempts to boot.


Any help is greatly appreciated!



This site is nice.
Nice to meet you!



The simpler way to install Windows 7/Vista/XP from USB is FlashBoot utility.
It automates everything.



The maximum pc is the magazine that every computer nerd, pc gamer or content creator must read.Thanks for sharing the informative post. Regards. david77- double memory foam mattresses



it doesnt work!!! i followed all the steps, it even showed on the cmd prompt it said that bootcode was successfully updated on all targeted volumes. and i plugged it into the my desktop and it says BOOTMGR IS MISSING. SOMEONE PLEASE HELP!!!! my old hard drive has some sort of partition issue, so i cant upgrade windows. i bought a brand new 500gb hard drive, and its not recognizing the flash drive...



Wonderful to be visiting your blog again, it has been months for me. Well this article that i’ve been waited for so long. I require this article to complete my assignment in the college, and it has exact same topic with your article. Thanks, amazing share Generic drug list



Can this be done the same way with a windows XP install?



The guide works great until it asks me for my product key. 

I have a Win7 Pro 64-bit .iso file I got from MS when they did the student discount.

I extracted the files using ISO Buster, then copied them to the USB key as described in the guide.  Win7 installed fine from the USB key, rebooted, then when it got to the product key input part, it said it was invalid (quadruple checked I typed it correctly). 

I ended up installing with the same ISO burned to a DVD with the same product key successfully.

Any ideas why the key wouldn't work when installed from a USB key, but would work when installed from a DVD? 



This is a great article. Very helpful. But I'm wondering, how do I make it so I can install windows ONTO a flash drive so I can use it as the C: drive in a pc? Instead of installing from the USB.



look up bootice




We like PC's BECAUSE we can tinker.


Nice article Norm.



1. Open Disk Utility (it's in your Utilities folder) and click the "Restore" tab.
2. Select your USB drive from the list and then select your disk image and you're done.

Oh wait, that only works for Mac. :(

It must realy suck to be a Windows user. Sitting around all day, endlessly configuring your computer to do simple time saving tasks, only to find... You've wasted more time configuring your computer. I guess that's the price you pay to be a hardcore gamer... That is what PCs are for, right? Playing video games? o_0




It's not every day I find a reason to join a forum and comment, but I have to say, this is worthy.

I am an avid Mac user; in fact, Macs are my primary work machines.  Coupled with my iPhone and iPad, I'm pretty much always connected away from the office.  I manage three different Mac Labs, and support over 800 Mac Notebooks.  My personal laptop is a MacBook.  In short, I love Macs, and use them all the time.

I also have a custom built PC (from the ground up) that does the things my Macs can't.  And I love it.

That being said, I'm not sure you understand how the process you provided is both incorrect and fulfills the stereotype that hardcore PC users see Mac users as.

Although it is true that Disk Utility can easily create a bootable disk image (.dmg) from an .iso, it would not function for this process.  First the USB drive has to be formatted with a Master Boot Record (MBR) so that non-Apple device can even boot from it.  Without this step you are dead in the water.  Secondly, Macs are incapable of natively partitioning a drive with NTFS (New Technology File System) that was created and patented by Microsoft in 1993.  To do so, you'll have to purchase software that allows you to format the Thumb Drive correctly.  You can attempt to use FAT32, but I'm not confident that it will compile correctly (it hasn't ever worked for me).

In truth, I prefer GParted for Linux to do my partitioning work.  Both Windows partitioning options and Disk Utility are curiously limited.

You have to realize that while Macs may be easier to use and may require less knowledge of how it works to operate it, it's changing us as a culture and making us more ignorant to a computer's basic operating process.  These people who build, tinker, explore, fail, break, rebuild, and tweak will ultimately be the people you come to for help when you can't figure out why your Mac is beeping at you when you press the power button (three beeps means memory problem, five means battery problem).  Macs appeal less to PC users not because of the OS (Operating System), but because Macs are closed, non-customizable systems.  No, you cannot have a Mac that is liquid cooled (unless you have a G5 tower!) with blue LED's running through it.  No, you may not have more than two case fans.  No, you may not upgrade the components - what you bought it what you have.

You will never go beyond using your computer as more than a giant calculator until you get underneath the GUI (Graphical User Interface), or break open the case and get to learning.  

I understand if you don't have that kind of time, but it's tough to tolerate pop-shots against Windows users when you can't even get the details of your Mac down correctly.







I believe you should redirect your comment to the " Maximum MAC" website, hosted by the same people as and

 Feel free to enjoy your 2nd generation double the price hardware that requires you to personally stroke Steve Jobs if you want to make any changes, modifications, additions, subtractions, or "gulp" productive at more than misguided hatred of the "PC" which worldwide still holds >92% (that means "greater than" in case you are not familiar with such symbols) of the market and a staggering 98% in business.

Compatibility, usability, and END USER CONFIGURABILTY will always be king for the same reasons democracy trumps communism....that's right - I just made that analogy. If ignorance is bliss then why do MAC users seem to carry such big chips on their shoulders? (that's rhetorical - which means I don't want an answer, I just want you to think about it, if you are allowed to do that on your own)



BTW thanks for this article (and every other thing I have learned and used!), it works like a champ and makes one hell of a quick install!



LOL well said Teknobenji, well said. :)



THANK YOU!!! This worked perfectly! BUT, I had trouble with step 2 where you say "Use the 'CD command..." I had no idea how to do that, so I had to google how to use cmd. Please update this step to say: "Enter: "cd C:\Users\Username\Desktop\Windows 7". THEN it will be a perfect guide for any non-tech savvy person. THANKS!



works great thanks to the poster.


roman horol

i am using 32-bit edition of windows 7 and needed to upgrade to 64-bit, just for work with adobe aftereffects cs5-

my pc is an I5- quad core 760 - 2.80 GHZ , with 4 gigs of ram , iam actually using autodesk maya , and after effects graphic application , and really needed to know how much i can get from this pc, i think this 64-bit will help alot , your instruction was really good , though i think you should need to add this 32- 64 bootsect to the instruction for people to know how to fix this , thanks to one of the persons that remind this part, i got actually to do it , thank for this man ! so thanks again it was intresting knowledge and i was register my self to this site just to say thank you, so .... have anice day !  cya 



Im running windows 7 on my laptop, can i use this method to create a windows XP bootable usb? (i need to repair my desktop but my CD drive is broken on the desktop - which is why i need to make a xp usb).

btw, I have the windows XP CD disk 



I'm another who registered just to say thanks. XD You saved my install, sir.  Thanks a million. :)


Jenny James

Honestly i was tired of searching step by step instructions to install windows, just found this articles. thanks much



Wrinkle Creams mens swimwear



tracking this message for future use.



I heard that the above method is applicable for Os above Xp Am I right?I firmly believe that its better to use some softwares to get the job done otherwise you might end up loosing valuable data.I heard that WintoFlash can get your job done like this guy who has posted it in his blog:





Really, I have read the article and the comments.  I can't see how/when/where extracting (with Winrar or otherwise) comes into it.  When I put in the Win7 disk, I don't see ISO files, just a lot of directories and files.  I copied those to my hard drive (in a Windows 7 named subdirectory of Desktop).  Windows Explorer now reports that I this Windows 7 directory has 3.01 GB, consisting of 874 files in 199 folders. Does having Winzip installed mean somehow that it skipped the extract phase and just gave me the files?  Or, ...???

I was dealing with the USB key installation in preparation to installation, which I haven't tried yet (haven't finished building the system), but am bothered that I can't see what everyone else apparently can see (extraction using Winrar).

 If there's a step saying all the files have to be compressed into an .iso file, please let me know.  Gently, if possibly.

 Could some nice, patient person explain what I fear is going to be pointed out as obvious for me?




Winrar is for folks that downloaded the iso. Mine was downloaded as an iso from Microsoft's  college discount program. Well, MS provided a tool to make a bootable usb from the iso so those people really don't need to go through all these. If you have the physical disc, don't worry about it. 

MSI X58 Pro-E, Intel core i7 920, HIS Radeon HD 5850, 6GB Corsair Dominator 1600 MHz 



I followed the instructions.

It worked 1st time.



Thanks for the article.



These instructions didn't work for me either until I tried it at work and built the installer from one of our Win7 iso images downloaded directly from MS.



my desktop doesnt have a cd drive, this command prompt is confusing the hell out of me. im trying to do this except with a version of linux. its in a folder called 'puppy'. heres what the console tells me:

 c:\users\joel\desktop\puppy\cd bootsect.exe /nt60 j:
' bootsect.ex' is not recognized as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file.


Before the file BOOTSEC.exe, remove the CH.



every time i try to type in the commands to make the folder with the iso image to be found all i get is "the system cannot find the path specified" i don't know what else to doBob K



@plam plam 


type cd C:/ and then cd users, then just follow the rest 



@plam plam 


type cd C:/ and then cd users, then just follow the rest 




please help. it says: "could not map drive partitions to the associated volume device obhects:

                                      Accesss is denied."


WWHYY???????? also, when i run as admin it shows prompt as C:\windows\system32\cmd.exe

instead of the c:\users... etc etc..


please help, thanks. also i have email: pls send any thing to help :'(



I dunno if you would still want to know the issue to the problem, but I found out after about 15 minutes of messing around with command prompt.

You have to use cmd as an ADMIN, and when you are using it, you have this:


You have to re-route yourself back to the Users\(USERNAME)> section by doing the following:

C:\windows\system32> CD C:/Users/(USERNAME)

This will route you back to the correct section of files so that you can continue on updatng the bootsect.exe file.

Also, to save on steps, you can do the following:

C:\windows\system32> CD C:\users\(USERNAME)\Desktop\Windows 7\Boot



I am having the same issue. Does anyone know the fix?



Win XP recognizes my usb devices, both in the front panel and at the rear. They show up in explorer, system info, etc., and I can freely transfer files to and from them. Diskpart doesn't show them in "list disk." Is there something I'm forgetting?

Log in to MaximumPC directly or log in using Facebook

Forgot your username or password?
Click here for help.

Login with Facebook
Log in using Facebook to share comments and articles easily with your Facebook feed.