How to: install Windows (any version from XP to Win7) from a USB/flash drive

I just posted about how one can attain a 90 day trial of Windows 7 Enterprise to see if you really want to purchase Win7 or not. In the post I mentioned to install Windows 7 Enterprise you will need to put the .ISO you download on a DVD or on a bootable USB. Now I figure I should explain how to create a bootable USB.

For the longest time trying to install Windows from a USB was a pain. You had to do this, do that, blah, blah. However recently freeware programs have been created to help make this task easier. Today I am going to tell you about two of such programs.

A Bootable USB

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A Bootable USB is a simple application created by an AskVG.com reader. With this app, you can either transfer the Windows install directly from a DVD or use an ISO. You simply plug in your USB, run A Bootable USB, check USB, format USB, select the DVD or ISO you want grab the install from, and start the process of creating a bootable USB from which you can install Windows.

Take note A Bootable USB:

  • Only supports Windows Vista/2008/7 installs;
  • Only supports USB/flash drives larger than 4 GB;
  • Officially works only on Windows Vista/2008/7 (the OS you create your bootable USB on not the one you are trying to install);
  • Can be installed or used as a portable application.

WinToFlash

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WinToFlash is an application which allows you to transfer Windows XP/2003/Vista/2008/7 install from a CD/DVD to a [bootable] USB/flash drive. Although officially the developer does not state WinToFlash supports .ISOs, you can simply mount your .ISO and trick WinToFlash into thinking it is a legit CD/DVD and create your bootable USB that way.

To create a bootable USB Windows install, simply follow the “Windows setup transfer Wizard”.

Take note while A Bootable USB was a one-time project by a zealous blog reader, WinToFlash is in constant development by its developer. Currently WinToFlash is in Beta and is also a portable app.

After you have created your bootable USB with a Windows install on it, with either A Bootable USB or WinToFlash, simply plug your USB into your computer and restart your computer. You should be able to boot from from the USB and install Windows now =). If you are unable to boot from it, you will have to go into your computer BIOS to change the boot order/settings to allow boot from USB.

You may download A Bootable USB and WinToFlash from the following links:

Click here to download A Bootable USB

Click here to download WinToFlash

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28 comments

  1. marebearinjapan

    Does this mean that you can use the OS on the USB without installing it on your drive and deleting the existing OS?
    I am interested because I am not able to upgrade to Win 7 since the manufacturer of my pc stopped making them with my model.  They have no support now for new drivers.  When Win 7 came out, I checked via Microsoft and found that my optical drive was not compatible with Win 7 .  I emailed Hitachi and they were no help at all.  I had no idea that Hitachi stopped making pc-s and the one I bought would end up in this situation.  Get this, I am still paying the installments on it!!!  Living in a country where the language is not you first language has this drawback….you don’t always get news like “Hitachi is ending production of pc-s”…..
    I need my optical drive for reading and writing CDs and DVDs.  So I am thinking about workarounds, since I am in no position to invest in a new pc.  Oh, and by the way, Sharp has done the same thing as Hitachi.  They have stopped making pc-s.  If any reader finds a good deal on computers by Hitachi and Sharp, skip the deal.  You won’t get support and won’t be able to do future upgrades with out lots of headaches.
    Thanks for any information and suggestions you might have.  If one can indeed use a bootable USB and not need to install the OS on the hard-drive, thus being able to keep the original OS, this might be a fine workaround.  One could still use the optical drive with the original OS.
     
    Oh, and is the Windows 7 upgrade version the same as the full install version?  I read somewhere online that this was so with Vista, so it was not necessary to spend extra money on a full install version because you could do a clean install from the upgrade CD-ROM.  I also read that you could choose between the 32 bit or 64 bit installation, too, from the CD-ROMs in the box.

  2. Sandeep

    Hi Ashraf,

    Thanks a lot for always posting excellent reviews. The software’s mentioned above would really help.

    I just want to ask is it possible to install Windows (XP/Vista/7) on the USB itself ????

    Thanks,
    Sandeep

  3. PTLdom

    Well, I’m running a stable vista home premium but do not want the fuss of uninstalling and/or reinstalling it … is it possible to run the windows 7 virtualized from a external hd or a usb pen?

  4. newprouser

    As far as windows vista and 7 are concerned there are some very easy commands to make a USB bootable.

    And as far Xp is concerned, i’ve used “WinSetupFromUSB” developed by users are another website for free. Its a great piece of work, and source code is included too.

    p.s. win2flash download worked fine for me in Opera v10.

  5. Travis

    Thanks for the info. I’ve known how to do this, but like you said, it can certainly be a pain having to do it “the long way.” In one of my IT labs we’ve been installing a lot of versions of windows from flash disks and I’m hoping this saves us some time.

  6. iEatJews

    If only i had a netbook! This would be perfect! Not to mention I already have the RTM version of Windows 7 Ultimate Cracked and Activated! ALL FOR FREE! HAAHA MICROSOFT IS SO SCREWED! But seriously Windows 7 is amazing.

  7. Quro@75

    Woaah, this is exactly what I’ve been looking for. I’ve been trying to do this USB Boot Project for my pc so many time, and it always screws up in the end (can’t figure it out, why, why? To many steps I guess, really confusing).
    Ok, I’ll grab number 2 instead coz it’s fit me (XP-SP2). I’ll try it now (and praying not to fail again)
    Thank you, Ashraf.