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Installing Windows Vista/7 Via flash drive (Mussels Method)

Mussels

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#1
2016 Update: Rufus is my tool of choice now, as its a lot faster than most other methods with freedom to use any OS you want. Doesnt support multiple OS on the one stick, but USB sticks are a lot cheaper these days so it's less of an issue than it used to be.

https://rufus.akeo.ie/

Updating/editing this thread to add in a newer method using the program SARDU, which allows you to store multiple variants of windows on the USB at the same time.


Old method archived in spoiler tags below.

Dropbox link for SARDU:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/dctpv0rc8x2nst3/SARDU_2.0.6.5.zip?dl=0
beta 3 isnt as good IMO, so heres a link to the final build of 2. Their website currently has no link for it.

Be aware that during the install SARDU will offer you some third party crapware. Decline them.

Sardu is NOT limited to USB flash drives. you can use DVD's, SD memory cards, USB hard drives, etc. As long as your device can boot from it, SARDU can install from it.

1. Prepare your ISO's. You'll need an ISO image or DVD of every operating system you want on the USB drive. You can also add stuff like kasperskys antivirus rescue disk, or a variety of other supported tools.

2. Rename the ISO's into the format SARDU understands, "InstallwinNAMEGOESHERE" and place them into SARDU's "ISO" folder. I've included windows 7, 8.1 and XP on the same USB stick using this method.
You can only have one of each OS, but technically you could label a 32 bit copy of windows 8.1 "vista" and just remember that.



3. Add them in sardu (Beta 3 seems limited to one windows installer. avoid it for now)

I started SARDU and it detected mine, since i named them in ways it understood, and told me the total size (will fit on an 8GB USB, or dual layer DVD)


4. Add anything else you want in SARDU, then click create.

5. Once done, add any other files you think you may want - drivers, antivirus, etc - and you've got a portable windows installer wherever you go.


Screenshot from the SARDU website (it says boot from hard drive, in english)


You simply select the windows menu, and pick the ISO you wanted.





The other thread seemed popular, so i'm adding my way of doing things. Its generally simpler and easier (one copy-paste line of text - thats it)

No tweaking, no Fking around, no program installs - put the DVD in the drive, put the flash drive in the USB port and run the command. thats it.

The rest of this post is purely there because people always try and do something differently, or don't bother reading the instructions properly!

This does NOT work with XP, so dont ask.
Mussels said:
command for copying vista (or 7) DVD to flash drive


Open a run command - use the "windows key + R" trick to open a run menu, if its not enabled in your start menu

xcopy X:\*.* /s/e/f Y:\



X: being source (DVD / ISO image on Virtual drive)
Y: being destination drive (flash drive)

A DOS prompt will open and show the files copying - it may appear to have stopped on a file (install.WIM), but dont worry - thats a large file so it takes a while.

FWIW, this doesnt work on all flash drives - tested maybe 5, and one of those 5 would NOT boot on my test machine. If you have issues, use another drive. This WILL work on USB HDD's, and not just flash drives!

You can use this to install vista off a flash drive, no longer needing a DVD.
*****************************Above this line is all you need to make a bootable flash drive!*******************************
As simple as this is, people always ask a bazillion questions. common ones are answered below.
  • The drive letters X: and Y: need to be substituted with whatever letters your system uses. Its obvious, but some people still miss that.
  • I've done this with NTFS and FAT32 flash drives heaps of times - havent burned a DVD for an OS in years.
  • Your motherboard is going to need to boot from USB for this to install. Many motherboards have a "quick boot" method by pressing escape or F8 while the BIOS POST screen is still loading. Dont always assume it will show as a USB device, often it shows under the HDD menus
  • Obviously, you're going to need a DVD in the drive, or mount the ISO via some virtual drive software, like deamon tools or Virtual clone drive
  • If your flash drive is full, the DOS prompt will just close without copying the last files. Make sure you have enough free space to fit the contents of the ISO (a 4GB flash drive is not exactly 4GB - mine is 3.83GB after formatting, and too small for a vista SP2 install)
  • I suggest formatting and starting with a blank flash drive - you can always add your other files back afterwards.
  • you can do this from any windows OS - Xcopy hasnt changed in a looooong time, so it should even work in OS's as old as win95. Since this has to be clarified, i mean you can make the vista/7 bootable USB disk in older OS's. that is not the same as making bootable copies of them!


and a picture guide, for those who cant live without them.

1. command line


2. format flash drive to NTFS (16GB drive)


3. Files copying


4. Open your boot menu in the BIOS, or change the boot order.
My media PC allows me to hit F12 and get this:

(If i had my flash drive plugged in for this photo, it would read as "USB-HDD Imation Nano" in the '+Hard Disk' menu)

5. run the vista/7 installer as normal


Out of niceness, i quote Pyeti and Naelex's alternate method.
This one is rather noob friendly, but requires a third party program.
This method works for XP!

Code:
Plug in your USB key.

Right click on the UltraIso shortcut, and click on Run as administrator.

Click on File (menu bar) and Open.

Navigate to your Windows 7 ISO file and select it and click on the Open button.

In the bottom Local pane, select your USB flash key drive.

Click on Bootable (menu bar) and Wite Disk Image.

Make sure the locations are correct, and check the Verify box and click on the Write button.

Click on Yes to confirm writing to the USB drive.

When it's done, click on the Close button.

You now have a Windows 7 installation USB flash key.
 
Last edited:

Pyeti

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#2
for people completely comand line phobic, ultra iso can also be used to make bootable flash drives from any bootable iso
 

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#3
updated first post with pictures at the end.

Hardly needed with the simplicity of the guide, but what the hell.
 

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#4
for people completely comand line phobic, ultra iso can also be used to make bootable flash drives from any bootable iso
Indeed, this is the way i did it and it worked perfectly.

edit: added to 1st post thanks Mussels

though tbh the command line method is just as easy ;)
 

Mussels

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#5
more pics added.
 
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#6
Awesome, I need to do this again as I removed Windows 7 off my 4GB USB drive for other stuff so I'll try this method.
 

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#7
Also, note the alternate method using ultraiso will work on XP unlike the command line
 
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#8
carefull gentlemen talk of using iso buster and (copys)of windows 7 might be construed as naughty
 
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#9
Don't know about ISO Buster (I'm assuming it's just a file to copy/burn ISO files) but there's nothing wrong with the free Windows 7 RC available on the MS website :D
 
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#10
i know just this thread might be seen in a few months time when 7 isn't free anymore (just trying to think of the site ;) )

still any guide should bring more people in
 

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#11
legalities are unrelated here: this thread is not related to pirating copies of an OS, merely for how to install your OS that you already have via a flash drive
 

DanTheBanjoman

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#12
You can fit Vista SP2 on a 4GB stick, just use vlite to remove all the junk media files. I had server 2008 SP1 on a 2GB stick
 

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#13
You can fit Vista SP2 on a 4GB stick, just use vlite to remove all the junk media files. I had server 2008 SP1 on a 2GB stick
fair point, but not what this guide is about: this is just a straight 1:1 copy of a disk you already have - no modifications, no fancy tricks, nothing to go wrong.
 
T

thraxed

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#14
Just to let ya know the xcopy thing a whole waste of time unless ta want to spend another 10 mins to copy/extract the iso, basically all you need is a fat32 partition on your usb or spare HDD drive. With the partition set to active. After that you can just extract the iso straight to the usb via winrar, or mount your image and copy the file folder structure over. Browse CD select all goto edit and copy to folder, choose your usb stick or spare HDD. Select the drive through the boot menu is the best way, so when windows does its first reboot, it boots off the drive it normally would, instead of loading the install again. All of ms oss can be installed off a hd but older oss like 95 you dont need the active partition, windows in those days were smart enough just to install to your c: drive, all you have to do is run setup from a folder at the dos prompt.
 
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Mussels

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#15
how is it a waste of time? it copies the files out of the ISO, and onto the flash drive.

your comment about taking another 10 minutes makes no sense. did you bother reading so little, that you thought i was copying the ISO file itself to the flash drive?

the purpose of the xcopy with its extra commands is that sometimes due to local security settings, you cant copy the files off the ISO - they fail to copy, or hidden/system files get missed and your install will fail.
 
T

thraxed

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#16
Xcopy does not copy files out of the iso, xcopy just copy files and folders from one place to another. As for copy method yeah xcopy a pain look at the directions you had to write, when all they have to do is open a window for the cd rom and drag an drop onto the usb drive, or however. You have to spend 10 mins extracting the iso to your hard drive, then to use xcopy to put it on usb is a waste of time, when you can extract it with winrar straight to the usb saving 10 minutes.

Files burned to iso usually dont have security, the xcopy swithes are for copy all files and folder and subfiles and folders, keeping the directory structure.
 
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#17
you said right at the beging this wont work for xp mate but then at the most asked questions bit you said xcopy hasn't changed in years an wil probs work as far back as win 98 i think you said so is xp just the one that wont work?
 
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#18
Does this work on U3 flash drives?
 

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#19

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#20
Xcopy does not copy files out of the iso, xcopy just copy files and folders from one place to another. As for copy method yeah xcopy a pain look at the directions you had to write, when all they have to do is open a window for the cd rom and drag an drop onto the usb drive, or however. You have to spend 10 mins extracting the iso to your hard drive, then to use xcopy to put it on usb is a waste of time, when you can extract it with winrar straight to the usb saving 10 minutes.

Files burned to iso usually dont have security, the xcopy swithes are for copy all files and folder and subfiles and folders, keeping the directory structure.
If you read his post, he did not say that the iso is to be extracted. The iso is either mounted, or a physical DVD in a drive. No extraction needed at all. It is a direct copy.
 

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#21
Why couldn't you just do "xcopy x:\ y:\"? What do you need the "*.* /s/e/f" junk for?
 
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thraxed

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#22
how is it a waste of time? it copies the files out of the ISO, and onto the flash drive. - Mussels

I guess to me that means extracting, yes i can read. pfft.
 

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#23
how is it a waste of time? it copies the files out of the ISO, and onto the flash drive. - Mussels

I guess to me that means extracting, yes i can read. pfft.
If it's mounted as a disc, or is a physical DVD in a drive, all xcopy is doing, is directly copying the files to the usb, without the need of extracting it to you drive first. It doesn't add any time at all.
 

Mussels

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#24
you said right at the beging this wont work for xp mate but then at the most asked questions bit you said xcopy hasn't changed in years an wil probs work as far back as win 98 i think you said so is xp just the one that wont work?
it means that you can stick a vista or 7 DVD into a windows 95 machine, and make a bootable flash drive.


it doesnt mean you can make a bootable 95 flash drive, it means you can make a vista/7 flash drive FROM the old OS.

Xcopy does not copy files out of the iso, xcopy just copy files and folders from one place to another. As for copy method yeah xcopy a pain look at the directions you had to write, when all they have to do is open a window for the cd rom and drag an drop onto the usb drive, or however. You have to spend 10 mins extracting the iso to your hard drive, then to use xcopy to put it on usb is a waste of time, when you can extract it with winrar straight to the usb saving 10 minutes.

Files burned to iso usually dont have security, the xcopy swithes are for copy all files and folder and subfiles and folders, keeping the directory structure.
how is it a waste of time? it copies the files out of the ISO, and onto the flash drive. - Mussels

I guess to me that means extracting, yes i can read. pfft.
well, if you can read it you lack the ability to comprehend what i wrote.

If you read his post, he did not say that the iso is to be extracted. The iso is either mounted, or a physical DVD in a drive. No extraction needed at all. It is a direct copy.
If it's mounted as a disc, or is a physical DVD in a drive, all xcopy is doing, is directly copying the files to the usb, without the need of extracting it to you drive first. It doesn't add any time at all.

Thank you wile E. The point of it is that it copies ALL files, which can go bad if you dont have hidden files and folders enabled, for example. It also makes sure that user restrictions wont affect it - AND that it works on every MS operating system that can read a DVD. Its a global method that relies on no external programs, and works on a fresh install of the OS's.

No tweaking, no Fking around, no program installs - put the DVD in the drive, put the flash drive in the USB port and run the command. thats it.

Why couldn't you just do "xcopy x:\ y:\"? What do you need the "*.* /s/e/f" junk for?
It was part of the guide i originally took it from. From what they said there, its to make sure hidden files and folders get copied too.
 

mrigom

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#25
i used to do this with windows xp using some dos program and utility like bart pe (dont exactly remember the name of the program) the whole thing would fit in a 512mb drive newayz nice post keep it up mussels.