Now that Windows 7 has hit release candidate, people are asking me how to create a bootable USB stick so they can quickly install Windows 7 RC1.
You will need the following to create the bootable USB flash drive:
- USB Flash Drive (>2GB+) - 4GB minimum recommended
- Microsoft Windows 7 Disk
- A computer running Windows 7 or Windows Vista
Step 1: Format the USB Drive
The steps below describe how to use the command line to format a USB disk correctly using the diskpart utility.
**** This will erase/delete/nuke/remove/junk everything on your drive. Be careful to select the right drive! ****
Plug in your USB Flash Drive
Open a command prompt as administrator (Start > All Programs > Accessories > Command Prompt (right click and select “Run as administrator”)
Find the drive number of your USB Drive by typing the following into the Command Prompt window:
The number of your USB drive will be listed, write it down - I’ll assume for this tutorial that the USB flash drive number is disk 2.
Format the drive by typing the following instructions into the same window. Replace the number “2” with the number of your disk below.
select disk 2
create partition primary
select partition 1
When that is done, you’ll have a formatted USB flash drive that is ready to be made bootable - don't close this Command Prompt, as you'll need it again soon.
Step 2: Make the USB Drive Bootable
Now we’ll use the bootsect utility that comes on the Windows 7 or Window Vista to make the USB flash drive bootable.
Insert your Windows 7 or Windows Vista DVD into your drive - I’ll assume the drive letter is d:
Using the same Command Prompt window that you used in Step 1, change directory to the boot folder located on the root of the media.
Use bootsect to set the USB Flash drive as a bootable NTFS drive prepared for a Windows 7 image. I’m assuming that your USB flash drive has been labelled as drive f:\ by the Computer:
bootsect /nt60 f:
You can now close the command prompt window as this is no longer required.
Step 3: Copy the installation DVD to the USB drive
Using Windows Explorer, copy all of the files from your DVD to the formatted flash drive, once completed, this USB flash drive is ready to boot. The final thing you need to do is to enable your computer to boot via USB in the BIOS and then you’re away.
To request a valid key for the beta and release candidate, please go here - http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-7/beta-download.aspx.