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How to create your own bootable USB flash drive for Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8

Updated on February 28, 2016

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How to Create your own bootable USB flash drive for Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8

The need for using bootable flash drives comes very handy these days as computer manufacturers are going micro. It is also important to note their functions when the computer you are fixing does not have DVD drive installed or the DVD drive is not working. It may also come in handy when you are fixing smaller notebooks that don’t have DVD drives in them.

We will exploit the diskpart command in Windows to create a Bootable USB disk. Bootable USB disks or flash drives play a role of vital importance when it comes to installing Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8 on a computer. They also play important roles during repairs and when computers running on Windows Operating Systems fail to function well. Knowing how to create your own bootable USB disk is very important.

List of Required Materials

To successfully prepare and create a bootable flash drive for Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8, you will require the following materials.

  • Original bootable Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8 DVD
  • A USB flash drive (4Gb or larger)
  • A computer running Windows Operating System with Command Prompt functioning well.
  • The computer must have a working DVD drive or you can use an external USB DVD drive

Launching Command Prompt

Command Prompt or "cmd" for short is a very powerful command line program in windows that can be used to accomplish a variety of tasks. There are many ways to launch command prompt in Windows computers but outlined below are only a few common methods.

Using Run in Windows XP

  1. Click the “Start” button
  2. Select “Run”
  3. In the Run dialog box type “cmd” and press the “Enter” key

Using the Start Menu in Windows XP

  1. Click the “Start” button
  2. Go to “All Programs”
  3. Go to “Accessories”
  4. Locate Command Prompt
  5. Right Click on Command Prompt and select “Run as Administrator”

Using search dialog box in Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8

  1. Click the “Start” button
  2. Type “cmd” in the Search Box
  3. The search results list will display “cmd”. Right click on it and select “Run as Administrator”

Using the Start Menu in Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8

  1. Click the “Start” button
  2. Go to “All Programs”
  3. Go to “Accessories”
  4. Locate Command Prompt
  5. Right Click on Command Prompt and select “Run as Administrator”

Preparing your flash drive

This is how you prepare your flash drive before it becomes bootable. Follow the important steps below very carefully. But before you proceed please ensure that you have properly launched command prompt with administrative privileges. Without administrative privileges the commands will not work properly. Then insert the USB disk or flash drive into the computer’s USB port and wait for it to detect the device and install the necessary drivers. Continue when the USB disk or flash drive is ready for use.

Type "diskpart"
This will call an inbuilt Windows command so that you can use it to prepare your USB flash drive
Type "list disk"
This will list all the drives and partition available in your computer
Type "select disk #"
Replace # with the disk number that corresponds to your flash drive. One way to identify your flash drive number is to look at its size. If the size relates to your flash drive then this could be the disk. This command selects the disk, which is your flash drive
Type "clean"
This will clean the selected disk.
Type "create partition primary"
This will create a primary partition in your flash drive
Type "select partition 1"
This will select the primary partition created above
Type "active"
This will make the selected partition active
Type "format fs=ntfs"
This will format the active partition
Type "assign"
This will assign a drive letter to the USB disk or flash drive
Type "exit"
This will close the “diskpart” command and return to the normal command prompt window

It is important to note here that when you type “exit”, this instructs the computer to close the “diskpart” function and return to the main command prompt window. Do not close the command prompt window yet because it will be used in the later processes.

Make your USB disk bootable

To make sure your USB disk or flash drive is bootable you must do this. This is a compulsory process. Without this your USB flash drive will not become bootable.

  1. Insert the Windows DVD into the computer’s DVD drive and note the drive letter corresponding to the DVD drive. Also note the drive corresponding to the USB disk or flash drive.
  2. On the command prompt windows type “cd x:\boot” and press “Enter”
  3. Type “x:” and press “Enter”
  4. Type “bootsect.exe /nt60 z:” and press “Enter”
  5. When it updates all volumes successfully you can type “exit” to exit the command prompt window.
  6. Navigate to the DVD drive root directory and press “CTRL + A” to select all files and folders
  7. Copy the files and folders and paste them into the flash drive

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When the files are copied you may close everything and eject the DVD and flash drive. The flash drive is now bootable.

Note: Replace x: and z: with the drive letters that correspond to the DVD drive and flash drive. To boot from the flash drive go to the BIOS settings in your computer and change the boot order. Set the first boot device to USB disk or Removable Device or any similar name that might refer to the flash drive.


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