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How To Make Bootable USB

Last month, in my effort to show support to Tim Ford (Blog | Twitter) efforts #iwanttoshare so, I wrote this article about HOW TO: Use ROBOCOPY to Move SQL Files. (Background: asked for fellow bloggers to write about entry level topics. He stated that from time to time he gets feedback that people reading our blogs do not always understand some of the assumptions that we presume our readers may know. In some cases, we tend to try and outshine one another to demonstrate our knowledge, experience or passion in our topics that leaves many readers lost)

This month’s topic is about creating a bootable USB, which is essential to installing an operating system (OS) since it is not only makes the installation faster, but also saves time trying to find a DVD disc or burner! (Rather rare to see now a days) About 5 years or so ago, Microsoft created a very handy tool called Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool to help with burning an ISO image to either a USB or DVD drive. However, as time has progressed it is not as helpful with Windows 8 or newer operating systems. The bad news is that newer operating systems now allow you to mount ISO images and the Windows 7 download tool does not work correctly today. The good news is that creating or using a USB drive to install Windows operating systems is a very easy task, if you follow the steps below, Also, these steps will work on Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1, or Windows 10.

Insert your USB (4GB+ preferable) stick to the system and backup all the data from the USB as we are going to format the USB to make it as bootable. Open elevated Command Prompt. To do this, type in CMD in Start menu search field and hit Ctrl + Shift + Enter. Alternatively, navigate to Start > All programs >Accessories > right click on Command Prompt and select run as administrator. (You can also use the Windows Key + X)

When the Command Prompt opens, enter the following commands:

  • diskpart
  • list disk

Once you enter the LIST DISK command, it will show the disk number of your USB drive. (Normally it is one of the last numbers, since it comes up after FIXED drives)

  • select disk x

Replace the x with your disk number, in my case it was disk 2 and then enter the following commands:

  • clean
  • create partition primary
  • select partition 1
  • active
  • format FS=FAT32 label=WIN10_US quick

Note: If you are not using the quick command, then the format will take considerably more time

  • assign letter=Z
  • exit

Don’t close the command prompt as we need to execute one more command at the next step. Just minimize it. Insert your Windows DVD in the optical drive and note down the drive letter of the optical drive and USB media. Here I use “D” as my optical (DVD) drive letter and “Z” as my USB drive letter.

  • bootsect /nt60 Z:

Copy the contents from the Windows DVD to USB drive.

  • xcopy Z:\*.* D:\ /E /F /H

At this point, you are done with creating a bootable USB drive. You can now use this bootable USB in the same manner as a bootable DVD to install an operating system. As usual, I hope this helps you and allows you to install operating systems without needing to purchase or download a third party program.

Here is all the code in one setting:

list disk
select disk 2
create partition primary
select partition 1
format FS=FAT32 label=WIN10_US quick
assign letter=Z
bootsect /nt60 Z:
xcopy D:\*.* Z:\ /E /F /H

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