There are various reasons why you might need to launch an operating system from a bootable USB flash drive or a pen drive on your Windows PC. You could need to quickly diagnose your computer after dealing with some issues or you might wish to install Windows without using a CD. Still, you might ask yourself: What is booting from a USB? The answer is - running your computer with the operating system that is installed on the inserted storage device.
In this guide, I will show you how to create bootable USB flash or pen drives for Windows 10. After completing the following steps, you will be able to finish any of the aforementioned tasks. As you will see in this article, you're required minimum computer knowledge to make pen drives bootable. You can use various third-party applications or work with Windows' CMD command line. Here I will show you how to use apps like Rufus or WinToFlash.
You will need to download the following software to follow along with this tutorial.
Creating ISO image for bootable USB flash or pen drives
Before being able to make a bootable USB or pen drive on your PC, you first need to have a Windows installation media available as an ISO file. If you have access to a Windows installation DVD, you can use programs like ImgBurn to create the necessary ISO file. However, if that's not the case for you, the safest solution would be to use Windows 10 Media Creation Tool to download the official installation media straight from the Microsoft website and convert it to the ISO format.
Creating bootable USB drive from ISO file
There are dozens of third-party applications for creating making bootable USB or pen drives, such as WinToFlash, UNetBootin, UltraISO, or WinSetupFromUSB. However, I prefer using Rufus, an open source program that unlike the aforementioned utilities, takes a small amount of time to complete the given tasks and is very simple to handle. Here's what you need to do in order to create a bootable USB drive from an ISO file:
Launch the utility on your Windows PC.
Rufus Main Window
Plug-in your USB device into your computer. The app will immediately identify the connected external drive and reveal it in the "Device" section.
Look for the "Create a bootable disk using" option and import the ISO file from your local directories.
Click the "Start" button and wait for the program to complete the given task.
Making bootable pen drive by using CMD
Even though this method isn't the most popular, it's definitely the easiest one and mostly preferred by power users. It also doesn't require the installation of third-party programs as the only application you will need to use is the Windows' CMD command line tool.
Here's what you need to do in order to make a bootable pen drive with Windows 7:
Extract the contents of the created ISO file to one of your local directories. Insert the pen drive into your PC.
Go to Start -> Run -> CMD. Right-click the CMD app and select the "Run as administrator" option.
Run the following commands: "diskpart", "list disk", "select disk 1" (select the pen drive), "clean" (this command will delete the contents of your pen drive), "create partition primary", "select partition 1", "active", and "format fs=ntfs".
Windows' CMD Command Line
Write the "assign" command followed by "exit".
Enter the path of the executable file. The command would go something like this: F: -> cd win 7 sp1 -> cd boot -> bootsect.exe/nt60 G: (G is the letter for the pen drive). Enter the "exit" command.
As you can see, it's very simple to create bootable USB flash or pen drives for Windows. Choose the method you like and in just a couple of moments you will complete the task.
If you're a macOS user, then you might want to check this article and learn how to create a recovery disk for your Apple operating system.
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