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How to Install Windows 10, 8.1 or 7 Using a Bootable USB

You have plenty of choices to make when installing a new version of Windows on your device. 

If your computer doesn’t have a CD or DVD drive, you may want to learn how to run the installation from a “bootable USB” to quickly set up your operating system.

This article will go in-depth regarding what a bootable USB is and how to create one to install Windows 10, 8.1, or even 7. If you’ve already got your bootable USB ready — simply jump to the “How to Install Windows using Bootable USB” section and set your new copy of Windows up in a matter of minutes.

Benefits of installing Windows with a bootable USB

When planning to reinstall or install a new Windows OS on your PC, you need to be ready with the system itself beforehand. 

In most settings, you’ll be able to create an installation media using either your own device before you start the installation or a second device near you.

With CD and DVD disks becoming obsolete, many modern computers and laptops no longer come with a drive to read and write physical disks. This makes it impossible for you to create an installation media unless you use a USB drive.

The incredible accessibility — given the fact that almost every computer has a USB port that you can use to connect external devices, — makes it the easiest, fastest, and most streamlined method of installing Windows. You can create a bootable USB to install Windows 10, Windows 8.1, or even Windows 7.

How to create a Windows bootable USB with the Media Creation Tool

To boot from a USB, you first need to create the USB itself which will be read by your computer and used to boot up. You can find the guidelines on how to create a bootable USB using the Media Creation Tool issued by Microsoft.

  1. Open the Microsoft Download Windows page in your web browser and click on the Download tool now button.
  2. Save the tool to your computer. When the download is finished, launch the media creation tool and click Accept when prompted to agree to the launch.
  3. Select Create installation media (USB flash drive, DVD, or ISO file) for another PC and click the Next button.
  4. Set your preferred Language, Windows 10 Edition, and System Architecture
    1. If you can’t change the settings, place a checkmark next to the Use the recommended options for this PC option and proceed.
  5. Choose the USB flash drive, then hit the Next button and select your USB drive from the list. The Windows installation files will start to download to your USB drive.
  6. The download may take a long time depending on your internet speed. Make sure not to disrupt the process until the creation tool has been created.

How to change your computer's boot order

Before you can boot your computer from your USB, you first need to change your computer’s boot order to list USB first. This will prompt your computer to read the USB first before it reads the internal harddrive, during startup.

You can change the boot order from your computer’s BIOS setup utility. To find out how to do this, just check our guide on changing your computer’s boot order here.

How to Install Windows using Bootable USB

With your computer’s boot order successfully changed to load up from a USB device first, you can now crack on with installing Windows using your USB’s installation file. 

Note: Make sure you’ve backed up all your files before doing the installation to make sure you don’t lose any valuable data.

How to install Windows 10 using bootable USB

  1. Plug your USB device into your computer’s USB port, and start up the computer. You may be asked to press a key to boot from the USB.
  2. Choose your preferred language, timezone, currency, and keyboard settings. Once you’re happy with customizing these settings, click Next. Don’t worry if you’ve made a mistake, you can change any of these in the future.
    installing Windows 10 using UBS
  3. Click Install Now and select the Windows 10 edition you’ve purchased. Now click Next to start the installation process.
    Step by step guide on how to install windows 10 OS
  4. Choose your installation type. You can either choose Upgrade, which will allow keeping your current files, settings, and apps; or do a fresh clean installation by picking Custom. In this example, we’ll be choosing custom to do a fresh Windows installation.
    How to upgrade Windows OS while keeping old files
  5. To install Windows, you need a partition on your hard drive for storing system files. Your computer’s hard drive is a physical storage device, while partitions divide up that storage space into separate parts.
    • Note: If you haven’t yet backed up your hard drive, you may want to stop now, back everything up and start again. Once you’ve deleted the partitions you won’t be able to recover the data stored on these drives.
      You can either use one of the existing partitions on your hard drive by formatting it or you can delete the ones there and create new ones from fresh instead:
    • To use one of the existing partitions, select it, and click Format.
      How to format an existing partition on windows
    • To delete the existing partitions, select each one and click Delete, then OK.
      How to delete existing partition on windows
  6. If you’ve deleted all the existing partitions, your harddrive’s space will be unallocated, and you’ll need to create new partitions. If you just formatted an existing partition, then skip to Step 7 now. To create new partitions:
    • Click Drive options (advanced).
      Installing windows 10 operating system
    • Now click New and choose the size for your new partition, then click Next.
      Choosing size of partition
    • Windows will now create a new partition for storing system files. Click OK to accept.
      Installing windows operating system
    • Repeat this process if you wish to create more partitions.
      Once you’ve finished creating all the partitions you want, format each one except for the partition you want to store your Windows system files on. Select the partitions one by one and click Format, then OK when prompted.
      Formatting partitions before installing OS
  7. Now select the partition where you want to install Windows and click Next. The Windows 10 installation will begin. Your computer may reboot a few times during the process. This is normal.
    Windows setup
  8. After the installation is complete, your computer will automatically restart one last time. When it starts up again for the first time, you’ll be able to choose more of your settings, or you use express settings recommended by Microsoft.
    Choose, use express settings when installing windows
  9. Finally, sign in to your Microsoft account to use some of the new features with Windows 10 such as password recovery, and to access One Drive. If you don’t want to sign in with your Microsoft account, click Skip this step and follow the instructions to create a local user account instead.
    Choosing preference during Windows installation

How to install Windows 8.1 using bootable USB

  1. Plug your USB device into your computer’s USB port, and start up the computer. You may be asked to press a key to boot from the USB.
  2. Choose your preferred language, timezone, currency, and keyboard settings. Once you’re happy with customizing these settings, click Next. Don’t worry if you’ve made a mistake, you can change any of these in the future.
    How to install windows 8 using bootabale USB
  3. Click Install Now and select the Windows 8.1 edition you’ve purchased. Now click Next to start the installation process.
    install now
  4. Enter the product key that came with your Windows purchase to activate it. When done, click Next.
    • Note: You might not be prompted to enter a product key until later in the Windows 8.1 installation. This varies from version to version.
      enter product key
  5. Accept the license terms and then click Next.
    accept license terms
  6. Choose your preferred installation type. You can either choose Upgrade, which will allow keeping your current files, settings, and apps; or choose Custom to do a fresh clean installation of Windows 8.1. In this example, we’ll be choosing custom to do a fresh Windows installation.
    How to upgrade your OS
  7. To do a completely fresh installation with new partitions, you have to delete all the existing partitions first. Select each partition one by one and click Delete, then OK.
    • Note: If you haven’t yet backed up your hard drive, you may want to stop now, back everything up and start again. Once you’ve deleted the partitions you won’t be able to recover the data stored on these drives.
      choose partition disk
  8. Your computer harddrive’s space will now be unallocated. Following this, you need to create some new partitions. Select Drive options (advanced). Click New and choose the size for your new partition, then click Next.
    Select the partition to install OS on
  9. Windows will now create a new partition for storing system files. Click OK to accept. Repeat this step if you wish to create additional partitions.
    choosing the size of new partition
  10. Select one of the new partitions and click Format. This will allow you to format your new partition. Press OK when prompted, and repeat the process for any other partitions, except the one for storing system files.
    Formatting existing partition on Windows
  11. Select the partition where you want to install Windows, and click Next.
    Select one of the new partitions and click Format
  12. The Windows 8.1 installation will now begin. Your computer may reboot a few times during the process. This is normal. Follow the instructions when instructed to personalize your computer settings.

How to install Windows 7 using Bootable USB

  1. Plug your USB device into your computer’s USB port, and start up the computer. You may be asked to press a key to boot from the USB.
  2. Choose your preferred language, timezone, currency, and keyboard settings. Once you’re happy with customizing these settings, click Next. Don’t worry if you’ve made a mistake, you can change any of these in the future.
    How to installing windows 7 using boot-bale USB
  3. Click Install Now to start the installation process.
    How to install windows 7 operating system
  4. Accept the license terms and then click Next.
    Microsoft License
  5. Choose your preferred installation type. You can either choose Upgrade, which will allow keeping your current files, settings, and apps; or choose Custom to do a fresh clean installation of Windows 7. In this example, we’ll be choosing custom to do a fresh Windows installation.
    How to choose installation type
  6. To do a completely fresh installation with new partitions, you have to delete all the existing partitions first. Select each partition one by one and click Delete, then OK.
    • Note: If you haven’t yet backed up your hard drive, you may want to stop now, back everything up and start again. Once you’ve deleted the partitions you won’t be able to recover the data stored on these drives.
      partitions
  7. Your computer harddrive’s space will now be unallocated. Following this, you need to create some new partitions. Select Drive options (advanced). Click New and choose the size for your new partition, then click Next.
  8. Windows will now create a new partition for storing system files. Click OK to accept. Repeat this step if you wish to create additional partitions.
    install windows
  9. Select one of the new partitions and click Format. This will allow you to format your new partition. Press OK when prompted, and repeat the process for any other partitions, except the one for storing system files.
  10. Select the partition where you want to install Windows, and click Next.
  11. Once the installation is complete, you’ll receive a prompt to set the user and computer names.
    • Note: The built-in Administrator account is disabled on Windows 7, so the username you create will be the only one available on the system at first.
  12. Enter your username. The computer’s default name will be username-PC, where username is the username you’ve entered, but you can also change this. Once you’re done, click Next.
    windows 7 ultimate installation guide
  13. Finally, enter the new user’s password, or just leave it blank and then click Next.
    • Note: If you choose to create a password for your Windows 7 account, make sure to keep this safe. This will be the only user account on the system. If you lose it, you won’t be able to login to your Windows system later.

That’s it! You’ve now installed a fresh copy of Windows from a bootable USB on your computer.

You may want to run a Windows update next time you start up your computer and install the latest firmware/drivers available from your manufacturer, otherwise, you’re ready to go with your new Windows machine.

Next Read:

How to Create a Bootable USB Using Rufus

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How to Install Office on a Windows PC Using My Online Microsoft Account

 

 

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