ltstudiooo - Fotolia

Q
Problem solve Get help with specific problems with your technologies, process and projects.

How do I create a bootable Windows 7 USB drive?

Windows To Go only works for Windows 8 bootable USB flash drives; to create a virtual hard drive for Windows 7 installation, try Boot to VHD.

If your goal is to boot Windows 8 from a USB flash drive, then the easiest way to accomplish that goal is to use a feature called Windows To Go.

If on the other hand, you need to boot Windows 7 from a USB flash drive, then using Windows To Go will not be an option. Instead, you will have to use the Boot to VHD feature. In doing so, you will create a virtual hard disk containing the Windows 7 operating system, and then place that virtual hard disk onto a USB flash drive in a way that allows it to be booted. This technique also works for other versions of Windows.

The procedure for doing this is straightforward. The first thing you will have to do is download a utility called PWBoot. You are also going to need a computer that is running Windows 7 or Windows 8, and a copy of the Install.WIM file from the Windows 7 installation DVD.

PWBoot is a wizard-driven utility. Start PWBoot and tell the software you want to install Windows. The next screen will ask for a Windows installation image. Point PWBoot to your .WIM file and select the Enable Boot from USB check box.

The next screen requires you to pick an installation target. Choose the option to create a virtual hard disk image. You will then have to set the image size and path. Be careful to use a size that is small enough to fit on your flash drive.

On the wizard's last screen, make sure the Update Boot Code checkbox is selected and the Overwrite Existing BCD Store check box is not selected (this is very important). Click the Install button to write the virtual hard disk and the required boot files to your USB flash drive.

Next Steps

Microsoft readies Windows 8.1 download for USB sticks

USB device backups and restores get help from two tools

Don't use Windows To Go without Windows 8 BitLocker security

Rufus is superior to the Windows 7 USB download tool

Improve Windows 8 performance, reliability with Windows To Go

Windows To Go enables delivery of Windows 8 corporate images via USB

Memory stick makers prep drives for Windows 8 users

This was last published in January 2015

Dig Deeper on Microsoft Windows 7 operating system

PRO+

Content

Find more PRO+ content and other member only offers, here.

Have a question for an expert?

Please add a title for your question

Get answers from a TechTarget expert on whatever's puzzling you.

You will be able to add details on the next page.

Join the conversation

2 comments

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

Have you used Boot to VHD for Windows 7 USB installation, and if so, how did it work out?
Cancel
We did attempt to use Boot to VHD for Windows 7 with the USB installation and found it to be a quick and fairly straightforward procedure. The added IT phone service provided was helpful when we were troubleshooting and becoming familiar with the technology. We found it effective enough to warrant our using the Boot to VHD with USB again when we upgrade to Windows 8. The ease of installation makes this technology valuable.
Cancel

-ADS BY GOOGLE

SearchVirtualDesktop

SearchWindowsServer

SearchExchange

Close