Booting Windows 10 and Windows 7 from a USB stick is very easy. Within minutes you can install a fresh new version of Windows on your PC, laptop or media center.
Here’s everything you need to know about installing a fresh copy of Windows 10 from a bootable USB stick.
Why Boot Windows Installation From USB
If your spare PC doesn’t have an optical drive, or you’re out of DVDs, a bootable USB stick is the best solution.
After all, USB sticks are portable, and you can guarantee they’re compatible with every desktop and laptop computer. While some computers may lose a DVD drive, they all have a USB port.
It’s also faster to install than USB. USB drives can be made bootable faster than optical drives; it also installs the operating system faster.
To install Windows 7 or Windows 10 from a USB stick, you need a device with at least 8GB of storage. Before proceeding, make sure your USB flash drive is formatted.
Ensure USB Stick Has UEFI Boot Support
Before you download a bootable Windows installation image, it is important to know the difference between UEFI and BIOS.
Older PCs relied on a basic input/output system (BIOS) to boot the operating system and manage data between the operating system and devices. Over the past decade, UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) has replaced the BIOS, adding to the previous support. UEFI can help with PC diagnosis and repair without additional software or media.
Fortunately, the most common method of installing Windows 10 from a bootable USB drive supports UEFI and legacy BIOS hardware. So, whatever option you choose should work for your hardware.
Preparing Windows 10 Bootable USB
Before proceeding, insert a formatted USB flash stick into your PC or laptop.
Ready to install Windows 10? While there are several methods, the easiest way to do this is to use Windows 10 Media Creation Tool.
To retrieve this, go to the Microsoft Download Windows 10 page and click Download tool now.
Save the tool to your computer. It’s around 20MB in size, so it shouldn’t take too long for a fast connection. Once downloaded, launch the media creation tool and click Accept when prompted.
You will be presented with two options. Select Create installation media (USB flash drive, DVD, or ISO file) for another PC and click Next.
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Set your preferred Language, Windows 10 Edition, and System architecture. Note that if this setting cannot be changed, you must clear the checkbox labeled Use recommended options for this PC. Hit Next again.
Select the USB flash drive, then Next, and select the USB drive from the list. Click Next once again to prompt the download of your Windows 10 installation file.
Wait while the bootable Windows 10 USB installer is created. How long this will take will depend on your internet speed. Several gigabytes of data will be installed, so if you don’t have access to a fast internet connection at home, consider your library or even your workplace.
Installing Windows 10 With a Bootable USB Drive
With the installation media created, you will be able to install Windows 10. The USB drive is now bootable, so all you need to do is to safely remove it from your PC, then insert it into the target device.
Turn on the computer on which you have Windows 10 installed and wait for it to detect the USB drive. If this doesn’t happen, reboot, this time by pressing a key to access the UEFI/BIOS or boot menu. Make sure the USB device is detected, then select it as the primary boot device.
A subsequent reboot will detect the Windows 10 installation media. You are now ready to install Windows 10! Start by starting the installation wizard.
After you work through the wizard, Windows 10 will be installed. Note that some installations may continue after you log in, so be patient. You will also need to check Windows Update (Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update) after installation to make sure everything is up to date.
How to Install Windows 7 From a Bootable USB Drive
What if you’ve had enough with Windows 10? If you have a valid license for Windows 7, you can also install this from a bootable USB drive.
The process is mostly similar, although for older PCs you don’t have to worry about UEFI support. Windows 7 is a great choice for newer PCs in terms of being relatively lightweight. However, support for the operating system ended in January 2020. As such, you should ensure that you upgrade to a more secure operating system when the time comes.
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