Windows 7: Setting up a USB bootable device for installs

These days I install, re-install and install Windows 7 again and I wanted a quicker way of doing this without having to use a DVD all the time.  Plus I wanted to be able to install x64 and x86 for both server and client.  And I have a HP Mini 2140 on loan which of course does not have a DVD drive.  So enter the humble USB key to solve this task.

You will need at least a 4GB USB key to fit the entire contents of the Windows 7 DVD.  In Australia you can pick these up for under $25 now so it’s not a huge outlay.  We have a bunch in the office as part of a promotion so I have one for x86 and x64.  So the next thing you are going to need to do is format this disk using DISKPART.  Follow the steps below:

  1. Insert the Windows 7 DVD into the optical drive on your computer.
  2. Insert the USB drive and make sure you can see it in explorer.
  3. Run DISKPART – I’ll use screenshots to explain the rest of the steps.
  • At a command prompt type DISKPART


  • Now before you do anything else make sure you have inserted the USB drive and you can see it in explorer.


  • Type LIST DISK to see a list of available disks


  • Type SELECT DISK 3 ( in my case it happens to be disk 3)


  • Type CLEAN which will wipe the disk






  • Type ACTIVE to make this partition the active partition.


  • Type FORMAT FS=FAT32 (wait for it to get to 100% complete)


Type ASSIGN so a drive letter gets assigned in explorer.


Now you should have a USB disk ready for the Windows 7 source files.  If you have the DVD load that into your DVD drive and copy the entire contents to the root of the USB drive.  Once that is done you will have a bootable USB disk ready for you to build your machines much much faster with Windows 7.

I find this a useful and quick way to get machines build and it’s portable as well!

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Comments (26)

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  1. Balodew says:

    After running all this step, an icon appear that i must format this disk before i can use it please what can i do?

  2. Charles A says:

    This is really helpful. I am happy and grateful.

  3. sani says:

    Nice Article about Making USB bootable
    Here is also a Good Article related to USB bootable …
    visit below link …

  4. haker #001 says:

    take soooooooo long to format 64gb

  5. Codefreak000 says:

    Is there a limit to how large the drive can be, and if there is what would that be, all i have on hand is a 32g drive (first world problems eh?) Thank you for your time.

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