USB flash drive preference for image deployment on Windows 7 RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hello,

    I am currently deploying number of images across different laptop models.  I have been using various USB flash drives to store my images on (all 8GB or more either USB 2 or USB 3).  All of my drives are manufactured by SanDisk I have noticed over number of weeks whilst doing deployments that some USB flash drives will work with image deployment and some will not.  So, I just wanted to find out if there is an official preference by Microsoft as to which USB flash drives will work with image deployment and which wont, so things like preferential; Manufacturer, USB format (2 or 3), Size, File system format (NTFS or FAT32), Partitioning of the drive and or activating partition, etc?


    I am deploying an image using extracted files from Windows 7 disk which are extracted to a USB flash drive, I have created a .WIM image file and replaced the default one (install.wim) in the 'source folder' (so that install picks up my image which I also called install.wim).  In addition I have created an autounattend.xml file and placed it in the root of the USB drive, inherently having to create new catalogue files (using WSIM) I did so and placed those in the 'Source' folder as well on the USB which replaced the original windows ones (Windows 7 Home, Pro, Ultimate, etc - these have been deleted).  Furthermore ei.cfg file has been deleted from 'source' folder which was one of the prerequisites for this type of config.


    I have now been left with a hybrid Windows 7 x64 Professional source installation which deploys fine on some USB flash drives but not on others (please be advised this was the case even before I made aforementioned changes using original windows files).  This in hand brings me to my original question if there is an 'official' Microsoft preference for USB flash hardware and/or config of the USB flash drives for custom/hybrid OS deployment as mentioned above?

    Many thanks in advance


    Tuesday, June 24, 2014 12:03 AM


  • Hi Guys,

    Quick heads up I may have found the answer to some of my questions but I still wanted your input for my original question.  Please find what I had to do to my non-deploying USB flash drives before they started working:

    The simplest method is to copy the DVD files or extract an official ISO. It is also possible to use the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) to customize an image and deploy this via USB drive.

    End users could use Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/cfs-file.ashx/__key/communityserver-components-sitefiles/10_5F00_external.png . Please ensure that the USB flash drive has a minimum capacity of 4GB.

    Basic Overview

    1. Using diskpart:
      1. Clean USB drive
      2. Create primary partition
      3. Format partition as NTFS
      4. Set partition as active
    2. Copy DVD files or extract official ISO onto the drive
    3. Boot PC from USB and install

    Diskpart Commands

    This process will prepare the USB drive for the Windows 7 disk files. In normal Windows GUI format tool, the Allocation Unit Size must be set to 4096 bytes. This works with some USB drives and fails in some USB drives. Therefore, diskpart is used.

    Please note: This will delete all data on the drive, so ensure all files are backed up before continuing.

    1. Open the command prompt
    2. Type: diskpart
    3. Type: list disk
    4. This will show all connected disks, their disk numbers, connection status and disk size
    5. Using the sizes, determine which disk is your USB drive and remember its disk number (i.e. Disk 2)
    6. Type the following commands: (where X is the disk number of your USB drive)
      1. sel dis X
      2. clean
      3. cre par pri  
      4. active
      5. format fs=ntfs  Quick
      6. exit

    Once the disk is formatted and prepared, you can copy the Windows 7 installation files onto the disk, whether this is from the DVD, ISO or a modified image.


    You can find this info on the following site: http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/234.how-to-deploy-windows-7-from-a-usb-drive.aspx

    Hope this helps some of you.

    • Proposed as answer by Wade__Liu Monday, June 30, 2014 9:32 AM
    • Marked as answer by Cloud_TS Tuesday, July 1, 2014 1:12 AM
    Tuesday, June 24, 2014 12:09 AM