Tip 15: Use a USB Key to Install Win7 — Even on a Netbook
Putting the Win7 installation on a USB thumb drive has a few advantages—a small USB key is much more convenient for carrying around than a DVD, the OS will actually install much faster, and you can use a USB key to install Windows 7 on systems that do not have a DVD drive, such as a netbook. In fact, you can even install Windows 7 on netbooks that have fairly modest hardware. Dennis Chung, an IT Pro Evangelist at Microsoft recently posted a video demonstrating how easy it is to prepare your thumb drive and use it to install Windows 7. Here’s a quick look at the process:
- First, you’ll need the DiskPart utility on the system you will use to prep the thumb drive. This is a free disk partitioning utility that is likely already installed on your Windows system. If not, you can download DiskPart here (http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=0FD9788A-5D64-4F57-949F-EF62DE7AB1AE).
- Launch the DiskPart utility by typing diskpart at the Start Menu.
- Then run the list disk command to check the status of your drive.
Now run select disk 1 where the "1" is actually the corresponding number of your USB drive.
- Run clean.
- Once the thumb drive is clean, you can run create partition primary.
- Now make the partition active by entering active
- Then you need to set up the file system as Fat32 by running format fs=fat32 quick (quick, of course, specifies that you want to perform a quick format to speed up the process).
- Entering the assign command gives the USB drive a drive letter, making it easy to access from Windows Explorer
- Then you can copy everything from the Windows 7 installation DVD onto the USB key (a simple drag and drop will do).
- Now you can insert the thumb drive into the system you want to install Windows 7 onto and boot the system. The installation will now proceed as usual—but faster.