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Windows 7 - How to Make a Windows Setup USB Drive

Installing Windows 7 from a USB drive is sometimes the only option, especially on netbook computers and ultra-compact laptop computers which often don't have a DVD drive available. With Windows 7, it is easier than in previous versions to make a Windows installation USB drive. Before you begin, you'll need to have a USB flash drive with a capacity of at least 4 gigabytes. The following guide also requires completely wiping the drive, so make sure that you have copied over any important data contained on it to a safe location.

Insert your USB flash drive and close any autorun window which may appear.

Open the command prompt by typing "cmd" into the start menu search box and pressing Enter.

In the command line, type "diskpart" and press Enter. Type "list disk" and press Enter to see a list of all of the drives attached to your computer. Make a note of your USB drive. You should be able to distinguish it easily from its capacity. Make sure that you know which disk is which, otherwise you risk wiping the wrong drive!

Type "Select disk #" where "#" is the number of your USB flash drive. Press Enter. Type "clean all," press Enter to wipe the contents of the drive, including partitioning and formatting information. Type "create partition primary" and press Enter again.

Type "select partition 1" followed by Enter and then type "active" followed by Enter to make the partition active.

You'll now need to format the partition to make it ready for copying your Windows 7 setup files to. Type "format fs=ntfs label=Windows 7 quick" and press Enter. Wait for the drive to be formatted. The autorun window may appear again. If it does, just close it. Type "exit" in the command prompt and press Enter.

Insert your Windows 7 installation DVD and close any autorun window that pops up. Open Windows Explorer by clicking "Computer" in the start menu.

Right-click on your Windows 7 DVD and click "Open." Highlight all of the files contained within and right-click on the highlighted area. Click "Copy."

Return to the list of drives on your computer and double-click on the USB drive. Right-click anywhere in the empty root directory of the USB drive and click "Paste." Wait for the Windows 7 files to be copied over from the DVD. This may take quite a few minutes. Once this is done, you can remove your USB key. You can now install Windows from this key just as you would from a DVD.


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