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How To Boot & Install Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 And 8 From A USB Flash Drive

Updated on April 4, 2015

Boot And Install Windows From A Flash Drive


You Can Install Windows From A Flash Drive?

Have you ever come across a computer that didn’t have a working CD/DVD-ROM drive or simply didn’t have one at all? You know that complicates things when you want to install or reinstall an operating system and traditionally, the only way this could be done in the past was by booting from the CD/DVD that the operating system installation files were stored on. Luckily there is an easy way to copy your Windows XP, Vista or 7 and 8 installation disc to a flash drive and boot any computer that supports booting from USB and thus install your operating system without the use of a disc.

What Are Some Reasons To Install Windows From A Flash Drive?

Well, there are a few very good reasons to copy your installation disc to a flash drive. Most of them relate to convenience.

  1. You don’t have to worry about the flash drive becoming corrupted by scratches on its surface, like what might happen with a CD/DVD.
  2. Flash memory is typically faster to read and copy data from than a CD/DVD. This depends on how fast of a flash drive you decide to copy your installation media to. It could also mean that the installation process is somewhat sped up without having to wait for data to be read from a slow CD/DVD drive.
  3. If your flash drive has enough capacity, you can copy extra utilities, applications and diagnostic tools to it and have everything handy when you reinstall your flavor of Windows or have trouble and need to make repairs.
  4. Its also nifty to have your operating system installation disc imaged to a flash drive in order to install or reinstall Windows on computers with damaged a damaged/non-functional CD/DVD drive.
  5. It also would be another way of installing an OS on computers that lack a CD/DVD drive, like netbooks (such as the Acer Aspire One series) and some ultraportable notebooks(like the Dell Latitude D430 and similar laptops).

Personal disclaimer: This information is intended for owners of licensed versions of Windows XP, Vista and 7. I am not encouraging the use of this information for nefarious purposes such as software piracy. That being said…

How Do I Copy My Windows CD/DVD To A Flash Drive?

Well, its really quite easy. You can simply download a software utility called WinToFlash from Their software is free and will guide you through the process of formatting your flash drive, selecting the source of your installation files (the CD or DVD that has your copy of a version of Windows), and making your flash drive bootable.

Their software can be used to create a bootable flash drive that can install any version of Windows from XP through Windows 8, including versions 2003 and 2008 of the server editions of Windows. This way, you can easily and quickly install or reinstall your operating system on a new computer or on one that has had some sort of hardware failure or a serious viral infection.

When the process is complete, you can test out your new bootable flash drive with any PC that supports booting from a USB drive. When powering it on, hold the key indicated on the BIOS screen that will allow you to change the boot order or select a boot drive. Choose your flash drive and the Windows Installation boot process will begin if you were successful.

It is recommended that you use a 4GB flash drive for Windows XP and 2003 Server, and an 8GB flash drive for Windows Vista through Windows 8, especially if you are going to be working with the 64-bit versions as they take up more space. I must reiterate that the purposes of this hub are to inform owners of valid, legal copies of Windows OS’s to copy their installation media to a flash drive for their own use, not for the purpose of pirating operating systems and software.


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    • jesimpki profile image

      jesimpki 6 years ago from Radford, VA

      Thanks web-tools and katrinasui! I think that being able to use a fast, quiet flash drive to install Windows is much better than using a CD or DVD.

    • katrinasui profile image

      katrinasui 6 years ago

      A very interesting hub. I would like to have windows 7 in my flash drive:)