Install Windows from USB flash drive — fast!

I recently updated an old PC and wanted to install a fresh copy of Win 7 on the new machine. Only after my NewEgg goodies arrived did I realize the new motherboard didn’t have PATA connection and the internal DVD drives were all PATA/EIDE. Most recent motherboards will boot from a USB drive and I did have one (thanks to having a MacBook Air), but still wasn’t 100% sure it would work or if it would be really slow.

While researching any issues with that approach, I found the free Windows 7 USB/DVD Download tool which lets you copy a Win 7 ISO to a USB flash drive or DVD. Since I had a fairly new USB flash drive (requires >= 4GB), that seemed ideal.(Note the process will wipe the flash drive.) I still wasn’t going to believe it would actually work until I saw it. (Another note of interest — I was able to create the bootable USB on my Mac via VMware Fusion, so that was pretty convenient as well.)

I plugged the USB in along with my keyboard and mouse and booted up the new rig – sure enough the Kingston USB flash drive showed up as a bootable device in my fancy-looking Asus BIOS — mouse support no less! I didn’t time it, but after selecting the USB as the boot device, the computer restarted and installed Win7 on the new SSD before I was done futzing around with putting the case back together. Now I plugged in the USB DVD drive, installed the drivers, a couple restarts later and my quad-core PC was in business!


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