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Install Vista/Win7 From USB Drive


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#1 Verran

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Posted 10 March 2009 - 05:16 PM

You may have seen my thread before about wanting to make a Multi-Boot USB Flash Drive to install all flavors of XP and Vista as well as boot utilities like memtest and liveCD images. Well, that may have been a bit ambitious for my first try :P I have, however, been successful in getting a Vista install to work from USB. The steps were actually quite easy.

Step 1: Format The Drive For Booting
Follow the steps at the command prompt as seen here (making VERY sure to select the proper disk number):
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Also, keep in mind that this probably won't work in XP. The diskpart command is available, but when listing the available disks XP does not identify USB flash drives in the list.

Step 2: Copy Vista Install Files To Drive
Now just drag the files from the root of the Vista or Win7 DVD to the root of your USB drive. You can also run the disc image through vLite and slim down and simplify your install process if you want before doing this.

Step 3: Boot From The Drive
The newer the motherboard, the easier this is going to be. Older boards might refuse to do it entirely. Newer boards definitely will, though I found it to be a bit tricky. In the boot order menu, I selected USB Disk in place of the floppy option and put it before the CD-ROM and hard disk options. This didn't work. What I actually had to do was go into the hard drive specific boot priority menu where the actual USB drive is shown and move it up to the top of the order.

The easiest way still, IMO, is to use the boot menu option at the POST screen to just boot from the drive once that way when the install process reboots you don't end up with an install loop.

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So why do this? Well, the Vista Home Premium install files are about 2.5GB. So it'll easily fit on a 4GB drive. If you want to get tricky with vLite, I'm sure you could slim it below 2GB fairly easily and shoehorn it onto a 2GB drive. Either way, those size flash drives are a dime a dozen these days. $10 will get you a very nice 4GB and if you get one with good read speeds, it's probably a bit faster than optical media. Besides that, if you like to toy around with vLite and automated installs, it beats burning a new disc every time you change something :) It also provides the simplest method for installing an OS on a PC without an optical drive (like a netbook).

FYI: I have no idea why, but this does NOT work for me when I format the same way and copy XP to the drive. I'll be working on a similar procedure to install XP from USB next...
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#2 jammin

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Posted 10 March 2009 - 05:21 PM

I have installed XP on my NC10 using a CF card plugged into a USB reader and it was certainly more involved than the process above.
I have been thinking about putting Windows 7 on it and if it is as easy as that then I will probably do it soon. :)

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#3 Verran

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Posted 10 March 2009 - 05:35 PM

I've not tried it with Win7 yet. I think I'll try that right now :P
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#4 Verran

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Posted 10 March 2009 - 06:00 PM

Yup, it works with the official beta release image files for Windows 7 as well. I'll edit the guide to say that and also add the no-optical drive/netbook thing as another use for installing from USB.

All I did was delete the files for Vista and copy the Win7 files over. I didn't have to reformat or change any boot files.
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#5 jammin

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Posted 11 March 2009 - 11:32 AM

Got Windows 7 installed using the method just fine (4GB CF Card).

Works quite well on the NC10 :)

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#6 IVIYTH0S

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Posted 14 March 2009 - 04:35 PM

I'm about to upgrade from Win7 build 7048 to 7057 with my flash so I'll either be thanking you or be sending you the tab for the extra DVD-R I have to use :P

EDIT: SUCCESS!!!!! Verran you are the man!!! thank you sooo much for that guide, that was the quickest OS install ever.

Edited by IVIYTH0S, 14 March 2009 - 06:07 PM.

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#7 cchalogamer

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Posted 14 March 2009 - 09:05 PM

/me works on getting this bad boy to work with XP

So yeah, turns out ONE of my problems in getting this to work for XP is an issue with my 8GB flash drive not playing nice with much of anything, I can at least get the crappy 2GB Kingston I have here to APPEAR to work, but keep getting a few random recurring issues, I think I'll play with it more tomorrow if i have time.

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#8 IVIYTH0S

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Posted 14 March 2009 - 11:33 PM

/me works on getting this bad boy to work with XP

it doesn't work with XP?
It was weird because loading the setup took longer than the CD but the Installing and Expanding part was so quick

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#9 cchalogamer

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Posted 14 March 2009 - 11:50 PM

It just flat out doesn't function with XP files, and I have a few guesses why. (Though not all have been tested :lol:) To bad I wasted a LOT of time with th 8GB drive that doesn't want to work for this sort of thing. After a nice night's sleep hopefully I'll know what I'm doing wrong in my testing etc. 3:30 in the morning prob isn't the best time to be messing with windows installs afterall (Though if I hose anything on the test system it'll be...well nothing, it's a diskless folding system that I tossed a 40GB HDD and X600 into.

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i7-5930K/GA-X99-UD4/32GB G.Skill/512GB Intel 600p/512GB Crucial M550/480GB ADATA SP550/5TB/GTX 1080 Ti/Rosewill Capstone 1000-M/Rosewill Blackhawk (main rig)

i7-4930K/GA-X79-UP4/32GB G.Skill & Team Vulcan Mixed/240GB Seagate 600 SSD/4 x 1TB/GeForce 315/Rosewill Capstone 750/Corsair Carbide 200R (VM Server)

i7-6820HK/Aorus X7 v6/16GB G.Skill/512GB Samsung SM951/1TB/GTX 1070/230w AC Adapter/94.24Wh Battery (Gaming/Fun Laptop)

i7-7500U/Razer Blade Stealth/16GB/512GB Samsung SM951/45w USB-C AC Adapter/53.6Wh Battery (Work Laptop)

i7-4770K/GA-Z87X-UD5H/16GB Kingston/240GB Seagate 600 SSD/2TB/GTX 1070/Rosewill Capstone 750-M/Rosewill Blackhawk (the wife took this one)

i5-3570K/GA-Z77X-UD5H/24GB  ADATA/120GB Crucial M500 SSD/2 x 8TB/3 x 5TB/4TB/2TB/Antec BP550/Bookshelf (server)

i5-8600K/ASRock Z370 Gaming-ITX/ac/16GB Team Dark/512GB Sandisk 400 SSD/GTX 1070 Ti/EVGA Supernova 650 G1/Phanteks Evolv ITX (HTPC)


#10 jammin

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Posted 15 March 2009 - 01:34 PM

I suspect for XP you'll need to use this method: http://www.eeeguides...-usb-thumb.html

Note that you can't set that up using a 64bit OS.

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#11 Verran

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 05:14 AM

I suspect for XP you'll need to use this method: http://www.eeeguides...-usb-thumb.html

Note that you can't set that up using a 64bit OS.

That's the same exact link I found and saved :) But it's not a direct boot, as far as I can tell. You have to boot to a DOS prompt and then manually start the install process. I may just stick to optical media for XP if that's the case :(
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