Handy guide to booting and installing the Windows OS with nothing more than a USB drive – no blank CDs or DVDs required.
To be honest this guide is the product of a recent inability to install Windows on a wiped HDD. I was given a PC tower as a gift, and it was stripped of the standard optical drives. All it has are several USB ports.
Now I could have bought a cheap CD or DVD drive online, but that would’ve taken all the fun out of it right?
The question is “How do I install Windows on a wiped HDD without a CD or DVD?” The answer is simple: Use a USB flash drive.
All this requires is a separate computer (with a USB port obviously), a USB flash drive with at least 4GB of memory (depending on Windows 7 or XP), a copy of Windows, and about 20 minutes of your time.
Rounding Up a Copy of Windows
Some may have their original copy of Windows available, and others may not. For the those that the former applies you’ll have a little bit of extra work to do.
Convert Copy of Windows to an .ISO File
You’ll need to create an image file of your copy of Windows to install on your formatted USB flash drive. I recommend using ISODisk. It’s free and easy to use. Just select “Create ISO Image from CD-ROM” (even if actually DVD-ROM), the letter drive, and lastly where you want to save the .ISO image.
If you don’t have a copy of Windows you can always find one on the Internets with this guide here.
Burn .ISO File to USB Flash Drive
For this I recommend using a free program called “ISO to USB.” Just select your .ISO file, the letter of the USB Drive, and select “Burn.”
Change the Boot Order
Okay, you’re almost done.
Put the USB flash drive in an empty USB slot and reboot the computer. When it restarts be sure to press whichever F key is required to enter your computer’s BIOS and change the system’s boot order. Reconfigure it’s boot order so that it first boots from USB.
Save and exit from BIOS
Your computer should automatically restart itself and boot from your USB flash drive.
It’s that easy.
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