Install Windows 7 from a USB stick

       288 words, 2 minutes

On my netbooks, I have to install (too often) Windows 7 from the USB port. I usually use the “Windows 7 USB DVD Download Tool” but today it just didn’t want to build the USB stick properly.

Here’s the manual way to prepare a USB stick that allows installing Windows 7. The directions worked from a Windows 7 virtual machine running on my Mac.

Plug the USB stick and attach it to the Windows 7 virtual machine. If you have a physical Windows machine, just plug the stick. Whether it is formatted or not, you’ll either get a prompt to format it or browse it. Just ignore both.

From the “Start” menu, run a “Command Prompt” as Administrator and start the “diskpart” utility:

DISKPART> list disk
DISKPART> select disk 1
DISKPART> create partition primary
DISKPART> select partition 1
DISKPART> active
DISKPART> format fs=ntfs
DISKPART> assign

Refer to the disks size to guess which is your USB disk.

Now, install the boot loader inserting the Windows’ DVD. I did an ISO file from mine so that I can keep a backup of it. I opened the ISO using 7zip and extracted the “boot” directory to the desktop:

C:\> cd \Users\jdoe\Desktop\boot
C:\Users\jdoe\Desktop\boot>bootsect.exe /NT60 F:
Target volumes will be updated with BOOTMGR compatible bootcode.

F: (\\?\Volume{985de450-f999-11e1-874d-806e6f6e6963})
Successfully updated NTFS filesystem bootcode.
Bootcode was successfully updated on all targeted volumes.

The USB stick was mounted as “F:” by the previous “assign” command.

Then I used 7zip to extract to whole content of the ISO file onto the USB stick.

When done, simply unplug the USB stick, plug it onto the destination machine and boot it. Use the BIOS or the keystrokes to force booting on USB.

That’s All.