Installing Windows 7 RC from a USB thumb drive
This procedure also works for installing Windows Home Server, Vista, Windows Server, or just as a plain old boot disk. If you just want a boot disk, you'll still need to put some files on the prepped USB stick.
There are a lot of reasons to install from a USB stick rather than a DVD. The number one reason is speed, installing from the thumb drive is many times faster than a DVD. Another reason may be that you want to edit the cversion.ini file so you can upgrade from a previous beta.
The first thing you want to do is make sure that your computer CAN be booted from a USB stick. You’ll have to check your BIOS or the manufacturer’s website to see if your computer is USB bootable.
There are far too many different models to try to cover them here.
Second, make sure you have a USB stick that has enough room. For Windows 7 - 32bit you’ll need roughly 3GB and for 64bit you’ll need roughly 4GB.
Now that you have a thumb drive that’s the right size we can prepare it for booting.
To do this we’ll use the “Diskpart” utility from a command prompt.
Open a command prompt as Administrator.
From the DOS prompt type diskpart
Next, insert your USB Thumb Drive into a free USB port. We’ll need to figure out which drive your USB is so from the DISKPART> prompt type: list disk and hit enter
Here, you see that I have 3 disks listed. Disk 0 is my Hard Drive, Disk 1 is a 514MB partition on my built in flash drive, Disk 2 is an 8GB drive. Since the USB stick I inserted is 8GB, that must be it.
We want to use disk 2, so from the DISKPART> prompt type: select disk 2
To make sure that there’s nothing on the USB stick that will interfere with our booting, we’ll wipe out any partition information on the stick.
WARNING! This will wipe this stick clean! It will delete and destroy any data on this stick.
From the DISKPART> prompt type: clean
Now we want to create our primary partition for booting.
From the DISKPART> prompt type: create partition primary
Now we want to change to that partition and make it an active or bootable partition.
From the DISKPART> prompt type: select partition 1
When that step completes type: active
Next we need to format our active partition and assign a drive letter to the boot partition.
From the DISKPART> prompt type: format fs=fat32
When the format completes, type: assign
You can now exit DISKPART and close the command prompt.
The USB stick is now ready to boot. Next we need to copy the files from the ISO to the stick. You’ll need to mount the ISO file as a drive using something like Daemon Tools. You can download daemon tools from http://www.daemon-tools.cc/eng/downloads
. You may need to reboot your PC after installing Daemon Tools.
Mount the ISO as a drive then copy ALL the files from the ISO to your new USB stick. You should now be able to boot from the USB stick and do a full install of Windows 7RC1!
If you are trying to do an upgrade install from an older Beta, you are probably getting an error that “Your version of Windows cannot be upgraded”. To get around this, open the USB stick you just created in an explorer window. Browse to the “/Sources” folder and look for the file named cversion.ini, edit the file and look for the line “MinClient=7077.0”. Change the 70xx to 7000. Save the file and run the setup again.
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