Maintaining optical installation discs (CD/DVD) is very difficult. They get scratched or your drive lens might become too old and dusty to read a CD/DVD. Taking a backup of your windows Vista/7 installation files on a CD or DVD might give you disk write errors or sometimes if everything goes perfectly one fine day when you try to install from that disc you might get an error stating some xyz.dll file is missing. But now you can create a windows Vista or 7 installation USB drive, boot from it directly and install your OS. With USB drive prices falling sharply it isn’t uncommon to see 4GB drive as the starting point. An added advantage is that installing from a USB drive is much faster than doing it from a DVD and you can also if you have lots of space in the drive additional files like drivers and essentials can be added.
- A USB pen drive with atleast 4GigaBytes of space.
- A motherboard which can boot via DVD. Most models released after 2004 has this feature.
- DiskPart command line utility. If your using windows XP/Vista/7 diskpart is included in it, users running Windows 2000 download here
- Administrative permissions. Even though this requirement might sound silly for home users, you can’t run diskpart on your workplace computer if you don’t have administrative access
How to create a bootable Windows Vista/7 USB Drive
- Insert your pen drive and backup any data it has because we’re going to format it at one step.
- Open Start menu -> All Programs -> Accessories -> Right-Click command prompt and select “Run As Administrator” Running the command prompt with administrator privileges is absolutely necessary, if your running Windows XP just opening the command prompt is enough.
- Type diskpart to open the command line disk partitioning utility.
- Type list disk to get a list of physical disks (NOT partitions) identify your pen drive and note the disk number you’ll be using it throughout the process. In tutorial it is disk 1.
- Type select disk 1 you see a message saying it is selected.
- Now we need to create a partition primary because only a primary partition is bootable. So type first type clean after it completes type create partition primary
- Now we need to select the partition, mark it active and format it to NTFS so issue the following commands one by one
select partition 1
format quick fs=ntfs
- After formatting completes type assign then exit one by one.
- Now insert your Windows Vista or 7 installation DVD and enter its drive letter in the command prompt. In my case it is G: type the following commands one after another
bootsect.exe /nt60 H:
H is the drive letter of the pen drive replace it with your drive letter.
- The pen drive is bootable now its time to copy all the files from the DVD to the pen drive, to do this from the command prompt type xcopy /e G:\ H:\
Now keeping your USB drive inserted restart your computer, continuously press [F8] as soon as the computer shutdown process is over you’ll be presented with a boot device selection menu, select your USB drive and it will start booting.
An error you might encounter. Could not map drive partitions to the associated volume device objects: Access is denied. This happens if you are NOT running the command prompt with administrative privileges.