Making a Bootable USB with Windows 7 | John Papa

John Papa

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Making a Bootable USB with Windows 7


Tonight I had a DVD with Windows 7 that used to work, but it wasn’t anymore. So I pulled out my trusty USB stick with a bootable copy of Windows 7 on it … alas that drive had gone through the wash a while back and finally kicked the bucket. I was determined not to strike out 3 times, so I decided to make a new USB bootable device. The steps are pretty easy to create a USB stick that boot up the Windows 7 setup from an ISO image, so I figured I would share the love.

  1. Grab a a Windows 7 ISO image and extract it to a folder (not on the USB stick)
  2. You can use a lot of programs, many of them free, to extract from an ISO. I use 7zip.
  3. Grab a 4GB USB stick
  4. Format the USB stick with NTFS using the “quick format”. (You can do this via Windows Explorer)
  5. Open a CMD prompt (run it as administrator)
  7. Select the volume for the USB stick. First enter LIST VOL to show the list.
  8. Then enter SELECT VOL x where x is the volume number from the list
  9. Mark the volume as active by entering ACTIVE
  10. Enter EXIT to quit the DISKPART command line (but do not close the CMD prompt window)
  11. In the CMD prompt window, go to the location where you extracted the Windows 7 files on your computer
  12. Go into the BOOT folder
  13. Type BOOTSECT /NT60 <drive letter>: where the drive letter is the USB drive.
  14. Example BOOTSECT /NT60 G:
  15. Copy all of the files you extracted for Windows 7 to the USB stick
  16. On the computer you want to install Windows 7, go to your BIOS and make sure that boot from USB is enabled and in the correct position in the boot sequence.

Once all files are copied to the USB stick, you can plug the USB stick into a computer and boot from it to run Windows 7 setup.

Hope this helps!

tags: boot diskpart usb windows
  • Dennis de Groot

    Hi John,
    Did you know that Microsoft created a small program for this? With this program you select your usb disk, select your windows 7 image press next and you wait. After that you have a nice bootable usb stick.
    The download link for this tool is:

    • raj

      It only works with Windows iso files? Because I tried backtrack, and it was unsuccessful.

    • ayato metal

      yep! it’s only for windows iso files. I also tried and got no solution.

    • Shameer

      Dear I tried to use this program but it comes n error of invalid ISO file. I have already used that file to install windows by burning it on DVD but now i require to use USB flash drive .. will you please help me in this matter??

  • john

    Dennis – I did, that’s a very cool utility to do it too.

  • Anon

    or try this one

  • Jon Peterson

    Just… remember that Diskpart is a VERY quick tool. Triple-check any commands you enter before actually hitting the “Enter” key.
    Not a week ago (using a slightly different method), I fat-fingered the “1” key on my number pad instead of the “4” key, and ended up wiping out a partition before noticing the error. Luckily I subscribe to a practice of “nothing cannot be lost” (if it can’t be lost, it doesn’t belong on my home rig) so this wasn’t that big of a deal… but not everyone uses my system.

  • dheeraj

    I read hundred of articles on very similar topic .No one is in working order. Might be this post Helps me to make USB bootable.
    Thanks For sharing!!!!!

  • Tom

    A win7 STREAMED USB stick would be great wouldn’t it? All the updated fixes, drivers, etc. on a single stick would make a really useful and fast recovery disk. Another alternative to a system image disk but without all the data overhead.

  • Bruno

    Do you know if there is a method, using something like what you described, to create a fully functional win7 usb boot instead of an installation? I mean a live usb, like for example knoppix live cd.

  • Joe Healy

    good tool here can save you some work –

  • john

    Aaron & Joe … Yep, the codeplex tool will do it too.
    The Microsoft store tool works great too:

  • gher

    The simpler way to install Windows 7/Vista/XP from USB is FlashBoot utility.
    It automates everything.

  • sam

    hi guys…im looking for a software to make mac os usb bootable..any help will be greatly appreciated

  • Hem Thapa

    Thanks for summarized tutorial….

  • Mike

    Didn’t work at first but then I tried again and realized that I accidentally formatted flash drive to wrong format.
    So guys be careful with this step.
    Thanks John for instructions!

  • Kojack

    Worked a treat!
    Though a point to note is I tried initially with an 8Gb USB and it didn’t work.
    Switched to a 4Gb and worked first time.

  • Reginald Johnson

    Thanks for the valuable info..
    I created a custom Windows 7 Image install on an 8Gb bootable usb.. and voila..IT WORKS…..this will prove to be an ultimate solution for OS refresh situations when troubleshooting viruses/etc..
    when working in the field..

  • kashif

    Hi all, i m a bit confused with that procedure, though its very helpful but i am stuck at No.1o that what command is needed to go to the location where win7 is located.
    Then No.11 how to go in Bootsect folder.
    Then No.13 what is command for copying .
    Please correct if i am wrong.
    Would appreciate

  • kashif

    Hi All, i did this and but now it is giving error that i dont have space on usb and i need more space to copy all stuff :/ Kindly help if i need 8GB, but 4 Gig was recommended….

  • hotpot12

    this method worked like charm

  • Rubel

    Thanks for your post.
    For multi boot usb flash drive visit the below link:

  • Machama

    Thanks john papa it helped me.

  • Dean

    Thanks for this dude; absolutely awesome! Was wondering how I could get from my backed up /SOURCE folder to something bootable. You, good sir, have been bookmarked.

  • Jonathan

    I have tried EVERY possible known method for creating a bootable Windows 7 USB key (8GB SanDisk) from an ISO of Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit upgrade disc! NOTHING works!
    I’ve tried Win to Flash, I’ve tried Windows 7 to USB tool from Microsoft along with the “hack” known as isoavdpcopy.exe in Command Prompt (Because Microsoft’s tool will only work with ISO images from their store, not retail disc!), AND I’ve tried doing it the “manual” way as follows:
    1. Ran “DISKPART” in Command Prompt and formatted my USB thumb drive as NTFS. Disk # for my thumb drive in “DISKPART” is “Disk 5″.
    2. Inserted the Windows 7 DVD into the optical drive.
    3. Navigated to D:\boot within Command Prompt by typing CD D: (where D: refers to the optical drive).
    4. Ran the bootsect /nt60 l: command (where “L” refers to thumb drive). Process completed successfully.
    5. Ran xcopy d:\*.* /s/e/f l:\
    command to copy DVD contents to thumb drive (NOTE: I also tried this using the GUI by creating a folder on the Desktop called “Windows_7″ and copying and pasting).
    6. Now here’s the part that NONE of the “how-to” guides mention, which is what I suspected was the problem: I typed the command bcdboot c:\windows /s l: (where “L” is the thumb drive).
    7. I typed c:\windows /m {d2591203-6b38-11e1-8901-000ea6c76a9c} (where the string in the brackets above refers to the “code” I got after step 4).
    8. Made sure USB legacy mode was “Enabled” in BIOS.
    9. Selected “SanDisk” in Boot Options but did NOT set it as first boot device within BIOS setup, as I was advised NOT to do this.
    10. Tried to boot from USB key. Nothing!
    What did I do wrong here?

  • Usman

    Thank YOu

  • John Porter

    Hi John,
    You say “grab a windows 7 .iso image” I cannot find such a file on my Hard disk, Windows installation disk or the internet!

  • vin

    Hi john thank you for this post, made my windows USB successfully. This process was actually easier than another process that worked for me earlier but similar but the other one involved more commands as it copied files to the drive via cmd.

  • Lisa

    At the command prompt to run bootsect, I get ‘bootsect.exe is not a valid Win32 application”. So close but so far? Could anyone advise please?

  • nitish

    sir i m using P-4 processor and intel motherboard.
    now when i type list disk
    only disk 0 is active .. and i have attached usb also.
    but its no turning up in list disk command .. what to do . now ?
    any good idea to suggest me .

  • Joshua Fricke

    while there is a small program to make this install process easier, this method yields better results from personal experience. there was a few instances where diskpart did a better job then the iso installer from microsoft. it would have been better if it was simply a script of this process, but something must be very different as I have gotten very different results from time to time.

  • Rashid Amin

    You are a gansta if this works! Trying it now!

  • Rashid Amin

    Yep you are gangsta!

  • GrizzlyBear

    Well….. for me making this boot-able usb with xp and vista/7 was the most frustrating thing ever (seriously i had better results with modifying linux distro, or compiling programs…).
    Programs I’ve used:
    1. Windows tools for making had crash: windows can’t find installer or file to install software (which is odd, cause i install all i want..) Of course sth like debug or well simple word “WHAT IS THE NAME OF A FILE THAT IS MISSING” is truly too hard to put out from windows so – result – trashcan.
    2. next one was – “a boot-able usb”: this program couldn’t find any of the dvd/cd rom saying: something about overriding drivers (letters i presume) and gives you no chance to change or choose any of the source (dvd/iso etc), but say nothing about “which letter is used for program, or what should you make to give a try” – result – trashcan.
    3. next one was – “win to bootic”: all went fine with making the pen-drive. But after boot – well – black screen and blinking “_” mark, and pen-drive was also blinking….(LOL).. 30 minutes later – the same (hopeless) – result – trashcan.
    4. next one: “win to flash” – it was hopeful – but rubbish – only communicate I’ve get was: “can’t lock the pen-drive” (ROTFL), cause i could do whatever i wanted (even format it from standard – right click windows mode) – result – trashcan.
    5. next one: “pe to usb” – the same thing – error while format (even after just putting the pendrive in, without using any application in advance…) – result – trashcan.
    6. next one: “hp format disk tool” – well – awesome but only for dos windows 😀 (after boot you get information: “setup can’t run in dos mode”), so xp, vista, 7 are out of list. – result – trashcan.
    7. next one: “ultraiso” – making is simple as having breakfast… – but after boot – vista said that can’t find drivers for devices!! ;p of course – no details, so guessing is what i should do for repair, also the best of all – there’s list of devices which you can search for the drivers – and.. all of devices are on the list!! – result – trashcan.
    8. next one: “unetbootin” – well nice and simple app – red lot’s of success from people who tried it. Of course for me it was rubbish – why? – because all i get after nice and successful boot-able-f…-pen-drive (at this lvl, and after that time i had truly enough) – was communicate:
    – grub or whatever what was booting iso said to me: “default”, and show a counter from 10 to 0 in a f…………………… loop!! 😀
    – result – trashcan (which if i could – would go out of window).
    9. THE LAST METHOD, after many many cigarettes!:
    – format under windows…. hard as hell ;p (joke)
    – copy / paste files from dvd-rom (just copy / paste)
    – voila!
    works as charm (DAMN, that was truly annoying after all ;p )(vista/7 only – for me of course, cause i think some of people have just been born with a mountains of luck!)
    I’m putting my truly frustrating experience here for others. Just try the SIMPLEST method first. None of those method would work (and couple of those program even can’t do it from start) with winxp (shame), or maybe someone had no problem at all (plausible). For me it was disaster.
    one more thing: I’m hard windows/linux user at level 4+ maybe out of 6, so YES – I’ve tried, run in administrator mode, changing letters of devices, run apps from virtualbox with standard none modified xp, also on linux (unetbootin), and all i could think off!
    Word “Frustrating” is all i can say about – making boot-able pen-drive.
    also – the best thing I could think of is to do: JUST BUY EXTERNAL CD, or cable which are about 10 bucks, which has sata, ata, usb, power cord of course, and everything what you can plugin to laptop in single external device for 2,5″ HD, 3,5″ HD, cd/dvd-roms.. 😛 (best and easiest solution!).
    If you do this more than once a month BUY IT (and NO I DO not sell such things), and have problem out of head. If you just want to do it once, just …. borrow it! 😛

  • The_E_of_SD

    Thanks for the help – this worked perfectly!

  • Bob

    How do you do steps:
    What are the CMD Prompt commands to do this?
    Thank you in advance!

  • Jared L. Newnam

    I would love to follow this, but the image I need to create also must include a proprietary piece of software to go with the OS. Will that extra piece of software be included. We’re doing this so that any time a machine goes down, we can reinstall Windows along with this extra piece of software to go with it.
    Jared L. Newnam

  • mohd arif

    “THANKS” for sharing but I don’t success make a bootable USB. my USB not showing on cmd.
    can you help me ‘sir’.

  • Elias

    Thank you 😀

  • John

    Good post, very interesting using diskpart to make the bootable USB. Ive always used a Linux distro and GParted for this.

  • sajid

    I accidently format my HDD now my DVD drive is not working.
    Any solution to install windows 7 with the help of usb
    plz i need ur help

  • SN

    I tried both the Windows7-USB-DVD tool and EasyRE for Windows 7 ISO Image (purchased) – Followed all the instructions from another laptop from John…

    Step 12 BOOTSEC command is not found in the other laptop and

    I am stuck –> Any help greatly appreciated?

  • Aravind

    Hi Guys .

    Try this cmds and sure you will get success.

    Making a Bootable USB with Windows 7



    =>select disk 1 (USB )


    =>create partition primary

    =>select partition 1


    =>format fs-ntfs quick


    =>d(DVD DRIVE): cd boot

    =>cd boot

    bootsect.exe/nt60 e(USB):


    • Seth

      After “BOOTSECT /NT60 I:” I get “Could not map drive partitions to the associated volume device objects: Access is denied.”

      I’m administrator, and permissions are all set for full access. Any ideas?

      • Reality

        @ Seth/
        There must be a program or process that is using your I: drive. I’ve had this problem a few times. It could be that you have the drive open in Explorer, or a utility that maps the drive for use.
        Close any windows and programs that may be using the drive – a background defrag program is usually the culprit for me – then try again.

        @ Those who don’t know how to navigate with the CMD prompt/
        To go backward in the path you are in, type CD..
        That’s 2 dots after CD – this will move you back one folder in the path.
        To move forward in the path you are in, type cd foldername
        If you know the entire path to where you want to go (forward), once you are on the drive with the folder, type CD pathname (You MUST be within the path, or you will get an error. It’s best to back out to the root directory, then go to where you need to be.)
        From C prompt, cd users\T
        My prompt will now say “C:\Users\T>”

        Other Examples:
        Let’s say I’m in the C:\Users\T folder, but need to get to the root directory, then to the NVidia folder on my K drive:


        C:\Users>cd ..


        C:\>K: (drive letter followed by a colon will take you to that drive. You don’t need to be in a root directory to do this.)


        K:\>cd nvidia


        Hope this helps!

        • Mr..V

          IF these tutorial gives more confusing, then go on and download rufus bootable for windows. Go and type this on google ” Portable rufus bootable for windows” without S-collin. After that, Run it and just extract the ISO. and make sure you choose a destination for where the ISO file is extracting to before clicking on start…..Hope this will be more help..

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  • Yuujin


    Works like charm at the very first attempt. Only problem I encountered is how to locate the folder I extracted using cmd but once I figured it out through googling, it went well ’til the end. Thanks!

    P.S. For those who do not know how to locate the extracted ISO:

    type “cd ”

    example using what I did:

    cd C:\Users\Admin\Desktop\7\Boot


  • http://firefoxmakingabootableusbwin7 penny

    hi , thanks heaps for being generous enough to share , I really want to try this but have a feeling it might be beyond me and i’ll stuff it up. I ‘ll bookmark you and re read tomorrow when I ‘m not feeling so “blonde” and I ‘m a true novice . Big thanks though and I really hope it will work when try

    • James Pyle

      It’s a lot less complicated then it sounds. Try it out.

  • Jesse Yang

    Thank you! This worked wonderfully for me on a Windows Pro 7 SP1 X64 OEM DVD. I need to copy it to a USB drive as the computer did not have a DVD drive. So this solution worked perfectly!!!

  • James Pyle

    Also very useful is once you setup the USB stick as bootable you can reuse it without doing the whole process again. Say you have a newer ISO you want to use instead, you can simply delete the contents of the USB stick and extract the new ISO.

  • Maya

    I got a “Could not map drive partitions to the associated volume device objects:
    Access is denied.” Any help on how to fix this problem?

    • Mitchel Costello

      right click the program and run as administrator

  • richard

    Guys, i think this video also very useful. Method shown in this video is very informative and easy. So guys just give it a try :)

  • Michiel van den Boogaart

    Just save yourself the trouble and download unetbootin. Makes install and live usbs for Windows, Linux and OSX. Works like a charm. Just select which OS you want and the USB drive letter and hit OK. No commands or anything. Just two clicks.

  • aduyng

    Thanks. It does work well for me.

  • Kris Wharton

    i have followed this method and still get a “BOOTMGR IS MISSING”

  • kentek

    Nice instructions. They all worked well.
    Also, opened my eyes on how the boot stuff really works.

    I appreciate it.
    ken in Camarillo

  • Ketan Atri

    Thanks a lot Sir!! Thank you so much, I just cannot explain how much I needed this and how helpful this post of yours, seriously I cannot thank you enough for this.!!!

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