How To Boot And Install Windows 7 From USB Flash Drive

Updated: An updated version of this tutorial can be found here, featuring an easier and faster way to create a Windows 7 USB installer drive.

The Windows 7 beta has been released for quite a while now. If you want to follow the crowd and test it in your system, but do not want to burn into a DVD, here is how you can create a bootable USB drive to install Windows 7 on your system.

(For Win XP only. Vista users can directly format the USB drive to NTFS format) In your Windows, go to Control panel -> system -> hardware -> Device manager.

Under the disk drives section, right click on the USB storage drive and select Properties.

device properties

Go to the Policies tab, select optimize for performance. Click OK.

device policies

Open your Windows Explorer, you should see the USB storage drive in the inventory. Right click and select Format. Select NTFS from the drop down bar. Click Start.

format to NTFS

For Windows XP

Download MBRWizard. Extract the zipped files to your desktop.

Open a command prompt (Start –> Program –> Accessories –> Command Prompt).

cd Desktop/MBRWiz2.0/
MBRWiz /list

Record the USB flash drive disk number

mbrwiz-list

Make the USB drive active.

mbrwiz /disk=X /active=1

For Windows Vista

On the Start menu, navigate to the command prompt entry. Right-click and select Run as administrator.

vista-command-prompt

Type

diskpart
list disk

Record the disk number of your USB flash drive.

vista-diskpart

Select the USB disk.

select disk X (X is the drive number of the USB flash drive)

List the current partition. Record the partition number.

list partition

Select the current partition and make it active.

select partition Y (Y is the partition number of the USB flash drive)
active

list-partition-in-vista

Download Windows 7 iso (32-bit) file to your desktop (The download link is no longer valid).

Download and install WinRAR.

Right-click on the Windows 7 iso file and select Extract files. Extract the files to a folder (you can name the folder any name you want, but for illustration purpose, I name it win-7) in your desktop.

extract windows 7 ISO

In your command prompt, cd to the windows 7 folder.

cd Desktop/win-7 (Change the destination to the folder that you have extracted)
cd boot
bootsect /nt60 X: (X is the drive latter of your USB drive )

create bootsector

Now, copy all the files from the Windows 7 folder to the USB flash drive.

Reboot the computer. Remember to change the first boot device to your USB drive in the BIOS.

You should be able to install Windows 7 from your USB flash drive now.