install Windows 7 ISO off USB drive?

Posted on 2009-05-06
Last Modified: 2012-05-06
I've downloaded both the 32 bit and 64 bit Microsoft Windows 7 Release Candidate ISOs from Technet.  I wish to install the 32bit version on my laptop, in which the optical drive is kaput.  How can I make a bootable USB thumb drive?  My thumb drive is 8GB, and the laptop is capable of booting from USB.  
Question by:pcrequest
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Assisted Solution

drakeshe earned 250 total points
ID: 24322379

Author Comment

ID: 24333420
Seemed like a good howto, but ran into error.  Here's what I posted at the howto:
 I'm building Win 7 32 bit Release Candidate on XP Pro SP3 32 bit, and also from a 64bit Vista SP1.  I get "error loading operating system" when trying to boot from USB thumb on 2 different computers.  When on XP I tried copying boot.ini NTDETECT.COM and ntldr" as things and stuff suggested, but that didn't help.
LVL 21

Expert Comment

ID: 24335536
  • Plugin your USB drive
  • Open a command prompt with admin rights
  • Type
    and hit Enter
  • Type
    list disk
     and hit Enter
  • You'll see a list of the connected drive. Note the no. of your USB drive
  • Type
    select disk <no of the USB thumb drive> (e. g. select disk 2)
    and hit Enter
  • Type
    list partition
    and hit Enter
  • You'll see a list of the partitions. Note the no. of the partition, likely it's 1.
  • Type
    select partition <no of the partition> (e. g. select partition 1)
    and hit Enter
  • Type
    format fs=FAT32 LABEL="Windows7" QUICK OVERRIDE
    and hit Enter
  • Type
    and hit Enter
  • Type
    and hit enter
  • Now copy the whole content of the ISO-image to the USB drive
  • Restart and boot from the USB drive
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LVL 21

Assisted Solution

JBlond earned 250 total points
ID: 24336122
By the way, the source for the above steps is this blog:

It's in german therefore I translated the necessary steps...

Accepted Solution

pcrequest earned 0 total points
ID: 24395438
Well, I eventually was successful.  It seemed I needed a combo of different tutorials.  The video plus user comments from ended up being most useful.  FAT32 was fine on the drive.  I definately needed the bootsect /nt60 X: command.

Expert Comment

ID: 24970783
This will walk through the steps to create a bootable USB flash drive for the purpose of installing a Vista or Windows 7 OS.  These instructions assume that you have a computer with Windows Vista installed on it.


USB Flash Drive (4GB+)
Microsoft OS Disk (Vista / Windows 7)
A computer running Vista / Windows 7
Step 1: Format the Drive
The steps here are to use the command line to format the disk properly using the diskpart utility. [Be warned: this will erase everything on your drive. Be careful.]

Plug in your USB Flash Drive
Open a command prompt as administrator (Right click on Start > All Programs > Accessories > Command Prompt and select Run as administrator
Find the drive number of your USB Drive by typing the following into the Command Prompt window:
list disk
The number of your USB drive will listed. Youll need this for the next step.  Ill assume that the USB flash drive is disk 1.
Format the drive by typing the next instructions into the same window. Replace the number 1 with the number of your disk below.
select disk 1
create partition primary
select partition 1
format fs=NTFS
When that is done youll have a formatted USB flash drive ready to be made bootable.
Step 2: Make the Drive Bootable
Next well use the bootsect utility that comes on the Vista or Windows 7 disk to make the flash drive bootable.  In the same command window that you were using in Step 1:

Insert your Windows Vista / 7 DVD into your drive.
Change directory to the DVDs boot directory where bootsect lives:
cd d:\boot
Use bootsect to set the USB as a bootable NTFS drive prepared for a Vista/7 image. Im assuming that your USB flash drive has been labeled disk G:\ by the computer:
bootsect /nt60 g:
You can now close the command prompt window, were done here.
Step 3: Copy the installation DVD to the USB drive
The easiest way is to use Windows explorer to copy all of the files on your DVD on to the formatted flash drive.  After youve copied all of the files the disk you are ready to go.

If you want to ensure the ability to select the version on WIN 7 (Home, Professional, Ultimate, etc) then after copying the files to USB go into the \SOURCES folder and find the file CI.CFG and remove.

Step 4: Set your BIOS to boot from USB
This is where youre on your own since every computer is different. Most BIOSs allow you to hit a key at boot and select a boot option.

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