Windows 7 - How to Make a Bootable Windows 7 USB Pen Drive
Creating a bootable Windows 7 USB pen drive is nothing like as complicated as it used to be. Installing from a USB drive is convenient in many situations. It can often be faster and, it's easier to carry a USB drive around with you than a DVD. Also, many netbook computers and compact laptops don't even have an optical drive, leaving you with a USB drive being your only option.
1 – Preparations
Before you begin, you will need a genuine copy of Windows 7 and a USB pen drive with at least a 4 gigabyte capacity. Make sure that you copy any important data from your USB drive to a safe location, since the following steps will require that you permanently delete any existing content from the drive.
You will also need a DVD drive on your main computer or, if you have the ISO version of the Windows 7 DVD downloaded onto your computer, you will need to mount it using a virtual DVD drive. You can do this by using the free program, Virtual CD-ROM, from Microsoft.
The program used to make a bootable Windows 7 flash drive is called "WinToFlash." Download this from the Internet and extract the archive onto your computer. It's a portable application, so you don't need to install it. Open the folder containing the extracted files and run "wintoflash.exe." If any error message appears, you can ignore it safely.
2 – Using WinToFlash
Put your Windows 7 DVD in the drive or, if you have the ISO version, mount it into a virtual DVD drive. Back in WinToFlash, click on "Windows setup transfer wizard." This will bring you to the very user-friendly wizard which will do most of the work for you.
On the next screen, you'll be able to enter some advanced options although most users will have no use for this. Click "Next" to continue.
On the next step, choose the paths of the Windows 7 DVD drive and your USB drive. Click "Next."
Accept the terms and conditions of the Windows License Agreement and click "Continue." Ensure that you've backed up any files, since clicking "OK" will now erase your USB drive. Click "OK" when you're ready. The program will now transfer all of the necessary files and boot data to the USB drive. This will take quite some time. When it's done, the program will inform you.
3 – Booting from the USB Drive
To actually be able to boot from the USB drive, you will need to change a setting in the system BIOS. The BIOS contains the boot priority settings. You'll need to configure the BIOS to boot from the USB drive first. If the USB drive is not connected, it will just boot from your hard disk instead.
There are various different BIOS interfaces, so, for specific instructions, you should refer to the manual for your computer or motherboard.