BootFests – Creating Bootable USB sticks….

Good Day Folks!

I recently did a series of Bootfests and Installfests in the Western US. At these events, we talked about and then performed installs to customer machines for a variety of Microsoft Operating Systems. We had several options to work with and I want to provide more information here on what I did to build the USB memory sticks that we used and the different install methods we used.

The USB Stick We Used

For the workshops, I provided a loaner 32gig USB Memory stick that was bootable. I configured it with the bits for Windows 8 and Windows 2012 so that we could move some files around and boot to install either operating system.

USB Stick Configuration

To make the USB stick bootable, I performed the following steps -

Have available the installation media for your operation system (in this example I used Windows 8). If this is in .ISO form, extract everything from the .ISO and place into an easy to find folder. More specifically, you need to ensure you have access to the \boot folder. In this folder you will have the bootsect.exe application which we will use later in the prep

Insert Stick in available port

Open an Admin level CMD prompt

> diskpart

> list disk   (to identify the disk number of the USB stick. In my example below, it is Disk 6)






> sel disk #   (where # is the Disk # of your USB stick.)

> list disk   (to confirm we selected the correct disk #)


*Warning* This next command will wipe out a disk without confirmation! Do not execute without ensuring you have selected the correct disk!

> clean

> cre par pri    (creates a primary partition on the selected disk)

> sel part 1   (selects partition 1 on the selected disk)

> active   (sets selected partition to be the active partition)

> format fs=ntfs quick   (performs a quick format of the active partition)

> assign   (assigns a drive letter)

> exit

Leave your CMD prompt open

Open My Computer or Disk Management and identify the drive letter of the USB stick

Remember the installation media and the /boot folder above? At the CMD prompt, execute the following -

> <path>\boot\bootsect.exe /nt60 <drive letter of USB stick:>   (where <path> is the directory you dropped your installation media in)


Once the bootcode is updated on the USB stick, you can now copy all of the installation media files to the USB stick. It is then a simple matter of rebooting your machine, pressing whatever magic buttons are required by your particular computer so you can boot to USB and then proceed with installation as normal!


In our classes, some people noted that I  had some extra folders on my USB stick. Here is what the root of our USB sticks looked like -


You will notice a folder called \NOMOVE in the root. This was just a reminder to me not to delete or move this directory when changing operating systems on the USB stick. In this folder I create additional folders for each operating system I would want to install from USB. I then copy all of the installation files from an .ISO or CD/DVD to the appropriately name OS folder. When I want to install a different OS from USB, I simply move all the files from the root (excluding NOMOVE) back to it’s OS folder. I then move all of the files from the OS folder I want to install over to the root.


If you have a 16gig stick, you can get at least 3 different OS installs on the same stick.



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