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Friday, August 21, 2009

Creating Bootable Vista / Windows 7 USB Flash Drive

This will walk through the steps to create a bootable USB flash drive. These instructions assume that you are running Windows Vista or Windows 7.

Required:
  • USB Flash Drive
  • Microsoft OS Disk (Vista / Windows 7)
  • A computer running Vista / Windows 7

Step 1: Format the Drive
Warning: This will erase everything on your USB drive.

  1. Open a command prompt as administrator (Right click on Start > All Programs > Accessories > Command Prompt and select “Run as administrator” - you must do this or it may not work, displaying the message: "Could not map drive partitions to the associated volume device objects"
  2. Find the drive number of your USB Drive by typing the following into the Command Prompt window:
    - diskpart
    - list disk
    The number of your USB drive will listed. You’ll need this for the next step. I’ll assume that the USB flash drive is disk 1.
  3. 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
    - clean
    - create partition primary
    - select partition 1
    - active
    - format fs=NTFS
    - assign
    - exit
    When that is done you’ll have a formatted USB flash drive ready to be made bootable.

Step 2: Make the Drive Bootable
Next we’ll 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:

  1. Insert your Windows Vista / 7 DVD into your drive.
  2. Change directory to the DVD’s boot directory where bootsect lives:
    - d:
    - cd d:\boot
  3. Use bootsect to set the USB as a bootable NTFS drive prepared for a Vista/7 image. I’m assuming that your USB flash drive has been labeled disk G:\ by the computer:
    - bootsect /nt60 g:

Step 3: Set your BIOS to boot from USB
This is where you’re on your own since every computer is different. Most BIOS’s allow you to hit a key at boot and select a boot option.

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