Creating a Windows 7 RTM bootable USB Key

*** UPDATED  17th August 2009  ***

For some reason the copy and paste of this last point of this post didn’t come through, thanks Jason for picking this, anyway it’s all updated now.

With the release over the weekend of the RTM of Windows 7 I’ve been doing a wholesale upgrade of all of our PC’s. On my laptop this was easy as I have a DVD drive, but we also have a couple of Netbook / Ultra Mobile PC’s a Fujitsu U1010 Tablet and an Asus EEEPC. What you  need to do this is a USB drive that is 4Gb or greater. Another thing to also note is that some of these USB drives come with a special partition installed by the manufacturer which will not allow the Win 7 partition to boot. In my case I used a San Disk 8Gb Cruzer which come out of the box with a U3 partition on it. I think this same process can be used for Vista installations but I haven’t tested this.

Remove U3 Partition

To remove the U3 Partition you simply have to download this utility, and run it as an Administrator. If you’d like to reinstall the U3 tools after you’ve finished you can download this utility to restore the partition to your flash drive.

Formatting the Flash Drive

  1. Plug in the flash drive and let windows detect it.
  2. Open a “Command Prompt” as “Administrator” Right Click on the Command prompt and select “Run As Administrator”, now type the following commands into this window.
  3. Type “diskpart
  4. Next we need to find the drive number of the usb disk for the next step by entering “list disk”. Each disk will be listed with a number next to it, in my case this was disk 1.
  5. The next step is to format the drive, simply substitute your disk number where I use 1. At this point it’s probably time for a coffee as this will take a few minutes.
select disk 1
create partition primary
select partition 1
format fs=NTFS

Making the drive bootable

  1. Insert the Windows 7 DVD or mount the iso.
  2. In the same Command Prompt that was open before change the directory to DVD’s boot directory (“\boot”) which is “bootsect.exe” is located, this is the tool that will be used for the step of this process.
  3. Run following command, assuming the “F:” is the usb drive. “bootsect /nt60 f:

Copy the Contents of DVD to the Flash Drive

  1. Select all files on the Windows DVD and copy them over to the USB Key. The easiest way to do this is to use Windows Explorer.

Once you’ve done all the steps above your ready to go. Simply change the bios to boot off the usb device and the Windows 7 install should be ready to roll.