Create Bootable USB Flash Drive from ISO Using Windows USB/DVD Tool or Rufus

Do you own a Netbook or a small form-factor computer without a DVD drive, but want to install Windows (7, 8 or 10) on it? This article explains the different methods to create a bootable USB Windows Setup media.

Before you begin, note that you don’t need any software to create a bootable USB media for UEFI-based computers. For UEFI-based computers, all you need to do to make a USB Windows setup disk is to format the USB drive as FAT32 (instead of NTFS), mount the Windows Setup ISO to a drive, and copy the entire contents of the mounted drive to the USB drive.

create windows 10 usb setup media - diskpart

This is sufficient to make the drive bootable in UEFI-based computers.

You don’t need to use any of the methods in this article to prepare a USB boot media for UEFI-based computers. The Windows USB/DVD tool formats the disk as NTFS, which means that it will not work on UEFI-based systems. For UEFI-based systems, you need to format the disk as FAT32.

For legacy (BIOS/MBR) systems, follow one of the three methods in this article to create a USB Windows Setup Disk.

Create Bootable USB Flash Drive from ISO Using Windows USB/DVD Download Tool

Microsoft’s Windows USB/DVD Download Tool takes an ISO image and creates a bootable USB device that can be used to install Windows. The utility can create a Windows installation DVD from the ISO file as well.

Download the Windows USB/DVD Download Tool. To copy the ISO image to USB flash drive, ensure that the drive has sufficient disk space. Different OSes have different ISO file sizes. Be sure to use a drive with a capacity of 8 GB minimum, as Windows 10 ISO file sizes grow every build/version; Windows 10 Fall Creators Update ISO size is 4.4 GB.

Although the caption reads “Windows 7 USB/DVD Tool”, it works flawlessly in Windows 10.

windows iso to usb/dvd tool

windows iso to usb/dvd tool

windows iso to usb/dvd tool



Please insert the USB flash drive (or DVD media) into the drive beforehand.

The tool works only for the Windows ISO image downloaded from Microsoft.

Rufus: An Advanced Tool to Create Bootable USB Drives

Also, look at an advanced ISO/DVD to USB tool named Rufus. This utility helps format and create bootable USB flash drives, such as USB keys/pen drives, memory sticks, etc.

Rufus - windows 10 iso to usb
Rufus – ISO to USB boot media creator.

Rufus is extremely fast, and this tool can be especially useful for cases where:

  • you need to create USB installation media from bootable ISOs (Windows, Linux, UEFI, etc.)
  • you need to work on a system that doesn’t have an OS installed
  • you need to flash a BIOS or other firmware from DOS
  • you want to run a low-level utility

Create USB Bootable Windows Setup Disk without using any software

As said earlier in this article, for UEFI-based computers, all you need to do to make a Windows setup disk is to format the disk as FAT32, mount the ISO to a drive and copy the entire contents of the mounted drive to the USB drive. This is sufficient to make the drive bootable in UEFI-based computers.

For legacy (BIOS/MBR) systems, follow these instructions to create a Windows 10 Setup USB disk.

  1. Insert the USB flash disk into the drive.
  2. Open admin Command Prompt run the diskpart command.
  3. Run the list disk command to see the list of drives. Carefully, note down the disk # for your USB media. It’s better to disconnect additional external drives before running this command, for easy identification of the USB drive.
  4. In my case, disk 3 is the USB drive, so I type the following command to select the disk:
    select disk 3
  5. Then, run the following command to completely erase the contents of the USB disk:
    clean

    create windows 10 usb setup media - diskpart

  6. Then run the following commands:
    create partition primary
    select partition 1
    active
    format fs=ntfs quick

    Important note: If your computer supports Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI), you should format the USB flash drive as FAT32 rather than as NTFS. To format the partition as FAT32, type format fs=fat32 quick, and then click ENTER.

    create windows 10 usb setup media - diskpart

  7. Once done, run the assign command, and then type exit to come out of the Diskpart command environment. Now, Windows reassigns a drive letter (G:\ in this example) for your USB drive.
  8. Mount the Windows Setup ISO by double-clicking on it.
    create windows 10 usb setup media - diskpart
  9. Copy the entire contents of the mounted ISO drive (H:\) to your USB flash drive (G:\)
    create windows 10 usb setup media - diskpart
  10. Switch to the admin Command Prompt window and run the following commands, where H:\ is the drive letter of the mounted Windows ISO and G:\ is the USB drive letter:
    H:
    cd\boot
    bootsect.exe /nt60 G:

    You’ll see the following output:

    Target volumes will be updated with BOOTMGR compatible bootcode.
    
    G: (\\?\Volume{589fd5fb-bd84-11e8-a90e-1866da06b846})
    
        Successfully updated FAT32 filesystem bootcode.
    
    Bootcode was successfully updated on all targeted volumes.

    The bootsect.exe command-line builds the boot sector code in the specified partition.

That’s it! The USB drive is now bootable, and you should be able to install Windows from it.

Hope this guide proved helpful to create a bootable USB Windows Setup disk using various methods.

About the author

Ramesh Srinivasan founded Winhelponline.com back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and he has been a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for 10 consecutive years from 2003 to 2012.

4 thoughts on “Create Bootable USB Flash Drive from ISO Using Windows USB/DVD Tool or Rufus”

  1. Open the ISO using PowerISO .
    Then go to the file-> Image Properties :

    Now you click on Image Properties and then click on the UDF checkbox .

    Now save the ISO file .
    Again open the DVD USB tool and now you can create you bootable DVD or bootable pendrive easily .

  2. No need to stress your brains by following Rafael Rivera’s method which is not correctly explained and most of the times not working! MOEEN here gave the RIGHT SOLUTION!!! Thank you Moeen!!

  3. One exception:
    Windows 7 USB/DVD Tool formats the USB drive as NTFS and for that reason it may not be bootable on a UEFI machine which requires FAT32. (Some older PC’s may accept both, but the UEFI only machines only boot from FAT32 as for specification)
    To make a USB windows installation media UEFI compliant you can format the USB device as FAT32 with windows 10, then open the windows.iso with file explorer and copy all files and folders from the mounted windows.iso directly to the USB flash drive.

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