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Can I install WIN 7 on a thumb drive and boot from there?

    Question

  • Can I install WIN 7 on a thumb drive and boot from there?
    I run a Core 2 duo 8 gig Ram,
    Is there a method to install 7 on a thumb drive so I can choose when to use 7 and when to use my current system?

    I cannot afford to drop current configuration at this time.

    Mike
    Monday, June 22, 2009 11:56 PM

Answers

  • Yes it is very easy to do and there is many site telling you how to do it. I'll give this link to a site (not the one I used, can't get into the one I used, it's on the Win 7 Comp that I'm setting up Media Center on right now :(   )  

    http://kmwoley.com/blog/?p=345


    That's only one but if you do a google site search "Making a Bootable USB flash Drive" you'll get plenty of sites telling you how. I know that I didn't need any special software to do it (some sites say use a special prog, that might make it easier) but you need at least a 4gig USB flash drive (USB thumb drive) the original downloaded and unzipped or if it was an ISO file you D/L'd you'll have to get something like MagicISO to create a virtual DVD of the files you need. Then you'll have to follow the directions on what ever site you choose. Really sounds like a lot but it's really easy.

    BTW there are a lot of sites that target the USB WIN7 install so try those too.

    Hope this helps ya.

    Mike K
    • Marked as answer by MikeJMiller Tuesday, June 23, 2009 12:48 AM
    Tuesday, June 23, 2009 12:45 AM

All replies

  • Yes it is very easy to do and there is many site telling you how to do it. I'll give this link to a site (not the one I used, can't get into the one I used, it's on the Win 7 Comp that I'm setting up Media Center on right now :(   )  

    http://kmwoley.com/blog/?p=345


    That's only one but if you do a google site search "Making a Bootable USB flash Drive" you'll get plenty of sites telling you how. I know that I didn't need any special software to do it (some sites say use a special prog, that might make it easier) but you need at least a 4gig USB flash drive (USB thumb drive) the original downloaded and unzipped or if it was an ISO file you D/L'd you'll have to get something like MagicISO to create a virtual DVD of the files you need. Then you'll have to follow the directions on what ever site you choose. Really sounds like a lot but it's really easy.

    BTW there are a lot of sites that target the USB WIN7 install so try those too.

    Hope this helps ya.

    Mike K
    • Marked as answer by MikeJMiller Tuesday, June 23, 2009 12:48 AM
    Tuesday, June 23, 2009 12:45 AM
  • Hi Mike--

    I just wanted to comment/bounce off you an experience I had if this message isn't too late for you to see it.

    I wanted to help my friend install Win 7 RC1 on his older laptop whose optical drive was brokena before MSFT makes it unvailable August 1.  I decided to do it with a thumb drive and it was easy.  However, in checking out several of the many links, they all had a step that I could never make happen, and I noticed a lot of people couldn't either.  I tested this command on XP boxes and Win 7 boxes.  I didn't have a Vista box to test them on any more, but some of the threads I've read said the command would run on a Win 7 box.d

    The command is bootsect /nt60 g:  where g would be the target drive that is the thumb drive letter (of course it would be whatever letter the thumb drive assumes.  The instructions all call this command the command that "codes" the USB drive.  I have no idea explicitly what they mean by "coding" the USB drive.  I just know I couldn't/didn't run the command but it doesn't stop my thumb drive from installing Win 7 on a box (either upgrading or custom (formatting the drive with a previous or no OS on it).

    Another part of most instructions that I found unnecessary was running the diskpart and list disk commands to find out what number the usb drive is.  You could get the same information by simply going to diskmgmt.msc and seeing what number it's assigned, but I fail to see the point since you don't need the number assigned to the USB drive for anything.

    I wondered if you knew the rationale for these.

    I did follow the part of the directions in the link you offered that changed the USB drive from Fat 32 to NTFS.  I didn't know why that was necessary, since I've never needed to change a USB drive to transfer files before, but simply since Windows has gone NTFS from XP on, I decided to go on and do that.

    What worked fine for me then was

    1) Extract the files from an .iso or a magic iso file via Win Rar.  Right clicking the file and selecting "Extract here" gets the job done.
    2) Convert the thumb drive from Fat32 to NTFS.
    3) Format the drive simply by right clicking it from Disk Management reached by typing diskmgmt.msc into the run box or Search box or typing Disk Management into the Search box.
    4) Select all the extracted files and folders (3 folders and five files for a total of 8) and right click copy them to the USB drive.
    5) Insert USB drive into target computer and click setup and Win 7 setup will run.

    Thanks,

    CH
    Tuesday, July 21, 2009 1:54 AM
  • I should have added I understand that the bootsect command switch according to
    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc749177(WS.10).aspx and a number of other resources is to 

    Apply the master boot code that is compatible with BOOTMGR to SYS, ALL, or <DriveLetter>. The operating system installed on SYS, ALL, or <DriveLetter> must be Windows Vista.

    I've seen it used on forums when people overwrite their MBR often when installing an older OS last instead of first for example, when trying to dual boot Vista and XP.
     
    But while it seems to be recommended in many of the instructions on thumb booting Win 7, it doesn't seem to be needed at all, and I couldn't make it run on a Win 7 or XP box.

    Best,

    CH

    Tuesday, July 21, 2009 2:10 AM
  • It depends on the flash drive as to whether these partitioning and boot sector commands are needed. The instructions include those commands just to cover all bases.

    I'll add my own question, though: Does this allow you to RUN Windows 7 from the flash drive, or does it only allow you to INSTALL Windows 7 from the flash drive? I guess you can always boot to a command prompt from the install disk, but that's not really the same thing as an installed OS. ??
    Tuesday, July 21, 2009 4:14 AM
  • Hi rmfii--

    You wrote:

    "I'll add my own question, though: Does this allow you to RUN Windows 7 from the flash drive, or does it only allow you to INSTALL Windows 7 from the flash drive? I guess you can always boot to a command prompt from the install disk, but that's not really the same thing as an installed OS. ??"

    First to answer your question directly this allows you not to run Win 7 from the flash drive--and while that possibility may exist and I hope people will chime in--I'm sure not aware that it does.  Maybe flash drives and other flash drives in the future or other form factors will run Windows OS's.  Of course we all know the cloud conocepts which are being advanced where phones and blactkberrys will eventually reach applications and spell the OS by using a browser to reach it on a cloud.  At least that seems to be where Google and perhaps MSFT are headed.,

    Again to your question, my experience with Win 7 and USB drives is that they will install Win 7 (either upgrade or custom) onto a pc, but you cannot run the OS from the flash or USB drive.  And I'm not aware of a situation where you can boot to a command prompt via the USB drive or that it would help you if you could for purposes of INSTALLING the OS.  We all know that if you have a repair disk either from MSFT in the form of a Win 7 DVD, or say the repair disk that you can either download from Neosoft, or now get from the Start Menu of a Win 7 box at Maintainance or was hidden in Vista SP1 in the System 32 folder for some very strange reasons you could boot to Startup Repair's options and select command prfompt, but that's not the situation we're confronted with when we have to install Win 7 de novo in the first place, or to upgrade Vista to Win 7 using the files on a USB stick.


    I take your point that different flash drives may have different requirements as to that bootsect /nt60 command with the flash drive as a target in the switch.  After all, there are a lot of flash drives around.

    But my point was, after beating my head against the wall trying to run the command, I simply could never run the command.  As I said, I had seen the command around for a good while or at least the nt60 commands around and the nt52 commands around during the Vista Beta.  I first saw them used by some of the MSFT setup team for straightening out problems where someone wanted to set up a dual boot of XP and Vista and they ignored the rule to always install the oldest OS first, and they had overwritten and lost the MBR for one of the OSs--usually the first one installed.nce

    Since I couldn't run the command I went on and did everything else but mainly all I did was to convert the FAT32 USB to an NTFS using directions posted on most of the guides to USB booting Windows 7; using Win Zip or Win Rar to extract the files from a download of the Win 7 .iso (actually I just extracted from a Magic ISO format and it worked fine because that's what was downloaded), and then I copied the files onto the USB drive.

    I still wonder what the rationale /or necessity if you want to use that word is for converting the USB drive from FAT 32 to NTFS.  I am not arguing that it has validity, I'm just trying to understand the reasoning.   As to that NTFS 60 switch, it may well depend on what USB drive you're using (mine is an 8GB LG) but I don't know how you'd know before hand.

    Here's the thing though.  Whether the bootsect /nt60 f: (I'll arbitrarily pretend f:/ was the drive the USB assumed--could have been other letters) was needed for my particular USB drive--it didn't matter because I could not get it to run on my box.  I would have liked to experiment with more USB drives, but that was the only one I had that was above 2GB unfortunately or I would have.

    So I got Win 7 installed quick and easy on my friend's old laptop without using that command (but of course only because I simply could not make it run) so I copied the files to the USB drive and it worked like a charm.

    I hope this answers your question.

    Best,

    HKLM

    Tuesday, July 21, 2009 4:59 AM
  • Two other slightly different methods than the one I used successfully without using the Bootsect command or frankly worrying about what "number" my USB drive was  in any of my commands or steps are heree .  I think my way was frigtfully simple.  I know I can install Win 7 with the USB stick I have using my meg thod.  If I have to make adjustments some day using another USB stick, then I will.

    Here's a link for two other longer methods, and I want to quote a tip that one of the commenters to this guide suggested.  From Win 7 Forum Guides:

    http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/2432-usb-windows-7-installation-key-drive-create.html

    The tip I liked was:

    Quote: Originally Posted by limneos:

    I just wanted to point out that the E:\boot\bootsect.exe /nt60 H: part is not necessary, cause since you copy the whole dvd contents the bootmgr file is included,so after you've made the partition active from diskpart, all you need is to copy the source files, boots just fine.

    Best,

    CH



    Tuesday, July 21, 2009 5:07 AM
  • Hey Chad -- I was Googling for a site like that last week, and I came up empty. Everything I found was about running the Win7 install from a USB, but yours looks like the real trick to running the entire OS from a USB stick. Thanks for the link!
    Tuesday, July 21, 2009 9:26 PM
  • rmfii--

    Once you give that link a shot please let us know how it went for you.  I didn't realize you could do that, but I ran across it shortly after reading your question.  The site is pretty reliable.

    Good luck,

    CH

    Tuesday, July 21, 2009 10:19 PM
  • Can I install WIN 7 on a thumb drive and boot from there?
    I run a Core 2 duo 8 gig Ram,
    Is there a method to install 7 on a thumb drive so I can choose when to use 7 and when to use my current system?

    I cannot afford to drop current configuration at this time.

    Mike
    Hi Mike

    I think there is some misunderstanding in this thread.

    It sounds like you want to know if you can install Windows 7 on a USB drive and then use that drive to boot and run Windows 7?

    If this is what you are asking, then the answer is No, you cannot do this.

    What everyone else here is describing is how to extract and place the Windows 7 installation files on a USB thumb drive and then use that thumb drive to install Windows 7 on the computers hard drive.

    Hope this helps.

    Thank You for testing Windows 7

    Ronnie Vernon MVP

    Wednesday, July 22, 2009 12:58 AM
    Moderator
  • Confusion indeed. I thought that the link Chad provided showed how to install Windows 7 onto a USB drive, but now I'm wondering how that could be possible with an 8GB stick. My Windows 7 install directory is substantially bigger than that.

    Wednesday, July 22, 2009 4:25 AM
  • Hi Ronnie--

    As you know there are an infinite number of directions on the web and several ways to use a USB drive to extract files and folders from a .iso of a particular build of Windows (7) in this case and install it easily.

    But the last link that I posted, indeed does propose using the USB as a live disk and running Windows 7 from there.  The site has pretty decent tutorials--Windows Club.


    I didn't (with respect) mean to propose your answer as an answer because I believe you can use a thumb as a live disk and that it was posted seriously on the link  offered as an answer.  I just clicked the wrong thing.  I wasn't familiar with this interface, and hope they'll NNTP the Windows 7 groups soon since they RTM'd it the other day.

    http://forum.thewindowsclub.com/windows-tips-tutorials-articles/28192-how-install-carry-windows-7-your-usb-flash-drive.html

    They are facilitating it by putting a virtual box or other virtual mechanism on the USB drive.

    The directions are included below.

    Best,

    CH

    Requirements:
    Bootable Windows 7 USB/DVD
    6GB + pen drive (8GB recommended)

    Procedure:

    1. Insert your USB drive and backup all your data.
    2. Next, download portable Virtual Box (sorry, I couldn’t find portable Virtual PC 2007) and extract the zip file contents to your USB flash drive.
    3. Open your USB drive, go to portable VirtualBox folder and run portable VirtualBox file.
    4. Follow the on screen procedure to create a virtual drive.
    5. Once you have virtual drive, you can easily install Windows 7 VirtualBox.
    6. After installing Windows 7 on the portable VirtualBox, safely remove your flash drive.
    7. Plug-in your USB drive to any Windows system and start using Windows 7 just like a live Cd/dvd.

    Note that I have not written each and every step as it's a long tutorial which includes creating virtual drive and installing Windows 7 on virtual drive. You can visit my site to get the detailed procedure.

    You can also use this method to carry Windows Vista and XP on your USB.


    Friday, July 24, 2009 7:00 AM
  • Hi rmfli---

    The way they make that happen is to use a virtual box or mount the drive with some type virtual machine app I believe and that is exactly what the directions propose doing.  In other words they are using the thumb as a live disk the way many Linux versions are run without installing Linux on your hard drive but rather running it from the DVD or CD.  The directions suggest a minimum of 6 GB to do this:  You can give it a try and see if it works.  After all, your objective in these steps is to create a Live Disk.  See Directions below.  Virtual Box is sure not the only virtual method that you could use, but the poster at Windows Club's Forum says it works well, and thg they have a pretty good level of users posting there.  Since you aren't actually putting anything on your hard drive, it would seem the downside to trying it is minimal.

    Directions are below:

    Best,

    CH


    Requirements:
    Bootable Windows 7 USB/DVD
    6GB + pen drive (8GB recommended)

    Procedure:

    1. Insert your USB drive and backup all your data.
    2. Next, download portable Virtual Box (sorry, I couldn’t find portable Virtual PC 2007) and extract the zip file contents to your USB flash drive.
    3. Open your USB drive, go to portable VirtualBox folder and run portable VirtualBox file.
    4. Follow the on screen procedure to create a virtual drive.
    5. Once you have virtual drive, you can easily install Windows 7 VirtualBox.
    6. After installing Windows 7 on the portable VirtualBox, safely remove your flash drive.
    7. Plug-in your USB drive to any Windows system and start using Windows 7 just like a live Cd/dvd.

    Note that I have not written each and every step as it's a long tutorial which includes creating virtual drive and installing Windows 7 on virtual drive. You can visit my site to get the detailed procedure.

    You can also use this method to carry Windows Vista and XP on your USB.
    Friday, July 24, 2009 7:07 AM
  • Hi Chad -- does Virtual Box implement some kind of compression? My 64-bit Windows 7 install was nearly 20 GB before I even installed my applications, so I just don't see how all that can fit on a USB stick.
    Friday, July 24, 2009 7:46 AM
  • Virtual box would need to be intalled on every computer you want to use the USB drive installed OS on, and you would need to go in a adjust the configs for different PC's
    Plus it would be SLOW running off a USB drive. plus the computers would all need to boot to USB or use  a boot floppy (you know those old slots that older had the front of a PC which are now not in use for the most part, which knocks out MANY PC's

    So no it would not be a workable solution
    Friday, July 24, 2009 12:56 PM