Create bootable Windows installation USB thumb drive – the clean way

In this tutorial, we are creating a bootable USB thumb drive on Windows system for installing another Windows to any desktop or laptop.

You will need

  1. USB thumb drive (preferably at least 4GB)
  2. Windows image in .ISO format


Preparing bootable USB thumb drive

  1. Stick in empty USB thumb drive to the computer.
  2. Run cmd (type in start menu and press enter)
  3. Type DISKPART. This starts Windows built-in disk management software. You should see DiskPart version information and computer name and after it a prompt DISKPART >
  4. Type LIST DISK which will list your disks. USB drive is the smallest, mine is 15 GB.
  5. To choose the USB thumb drive, type SELECT DISK X. Your disk could be Disk 1-3 but you need to check the disk based on disk Size. 4 GB disk could be displayed as 3490 MB for example. Mine is 15 GB this time. Be extra careful, because if you choose the wrong disk, for example, your hard drive instead of the USB thumb drive, you could format your entire hard drive clean. I don’t take responsibility of that.
  6. Type these commands in this particular order: CLEAN, CREATE PARTITION PRIMARY, SELECT PARTITION 1, ACTIVE, FORMAT FS=NTFS. These commands will format the USB drive to NTFS and create the primary partition for it. This could take a while, but you’ll see the progress directly.
  7. Type ASSIGN and right after EXIT. Now we have a bootable drive.

“Burning” Windows to disk

  1. Download the free version of DAEMON Tools Lite, install (use the free licence, decline Wajam and other possible adware, choose Custom installation and don’t install adware like PC Mechanic) and run DAEMON Tools Lite after installing.
  2. Make virtual drive of Windows image file by choosing Images and plus icon (Add Image). Locate your Windows image .ISO file. Right click on the disk icon and choose Mount.
  3. Run File Explorer and go to My Computer (or This PC on Windows 10) and check what’s the drive letter in mounted virtual DVD-drive. Mine is F:, you could be something else. Also, make notes what’s the USB thumb drive letter. Mine’s E:
  4. Open start menu, type cmd, right click CMD.EXE and click Run As Administrator. Then type F: (in place of F: you should type your DVD drive letter) and directly after cd boot
  5. Type BOOTSECT.EXE/NT60 E: (In place of E: obviously your USB thumb drive letter). You should see the boot code, couple of messages and the last message: “Bootcode was successfully updated on all targeted volumes.”
  6. Copy everything from mounted DVD drive to USB thumb drive with command xcopy "F:/" "E:/" /e /C /R (still assuming that mounted Windows drive letter is F: and USB thumb drive letter is E:)

And we’re done! Because this is a clean way to do this (raw commands instead of any buggy software), it always works. If not, you did something wrong or the issue is with your computer (for example I once had old BIOS that wouldn’t boot). Now you can stick the USB drive into the computer you need to install Windows and start installing.

Thanks for reading! I need your attention for a moment.

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Roni Laukkarinen

Editor-in-chief and owner of Geeky Lifestyle blog. Truly a jack of all trades, a Swiss knife; an avid tech and multimedia geek, coder, owner of a digital agency company, sysadmin, music enthusiast, artist and film critic.

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