Before we begin, you will need:
- Windows 7 or Windows 8 ISO file and WinRAR or a DVD burner with source files installed
- 4 GB USB flash drive for Windows 7. You may need an 8 GB USB flash drive for some Windows 8 photos.
Option 1 – Manual method
1. Prepare the USB flash drive
First we need to format the USB flash drive to erase all the data on the drive. Click the Start button and then the computer to bring up your drive.
Next, right-click on the removable USB flash drive and select Format.
Click Start and the USB flash drive will be formatted.
2. Prepare the source file
Now it is time to extract the settings from the ISO image file of Windows 7/8. If you have a physical Windows installation DVD then skip to step 3.
To extract the files from the ISO file you will need WinRAR. If you do not have WinRAR download and install it now.
Once you have WinRAR installed navigate to the ISO file in explorer and right click on the file and select Extract under to the <folder name> option.
The ISO file will now be extracted into a folder with the same name as the ISO file. This may take a few minutes to complete.
3. Source copy files to USB flash drive
The final step is to copy the source settings to the USB flash drive in a way that will allow the Windows 7/8 installer to boot. The trick is to use Xcopy. Depending on where your source files are located, there are two different methods for copying files to a flash drive.
Use source file extract
Open a command prompt and navigate to the directory where you extracted the source files from the ISO file with the CD command. Then run XCOPY * * J :. / E and press Enter to start copying. Be sure to replace J with the drive letter of your USB flash drive.
Use Windows physical installation DVD
The instructions are slightly different when using a physical DVD. Open a command prompt and type xcopy D: J: / e and press Enter. Replace D with the drive letter of your CD-ROM drive and replace J with the drive letter of your USB flash drive.
4. Install Windows 7/8 from USB flash drive
When the file copy is complete, you are ready to plug the USB flash drive into your computer. Turn it on and press the shortcut to bring up the boot menu for your model. Typically F12 or F1. After you choose your USB flash drive, Windows 7/8 installation should start downloading. At this point, the installation of Windows is similar to that on a normal laptop or a desktop computer.
Option 2 – Automatic method
Microsoft now has a free utility that automatically creates a bootable USB flash drive from an ISO image file of Windows 7/8. Simply download the tool, locate your ISO file and the program will do everything for you.