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  1. #1
    2 Star Lounger
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    WOODY'S WINDOWS

    Install Windows 7 many times from one USB drive

    ByWoody Leonhard

    If you'll be setting up Windows 7 on more than a couple of computers — or if you need to add Win7 to a PC without a working DVD drive — save yourself time and bother by converting a USB drive into a Windows setup "disc."

    With a couple of free utilities, a 4GB or larger USB drive, any Windows 7 setup DVD, and a little time, you can build your own Win7 universal USB installer.

    The full text of this column is posted at WindowsSecrets.com/2010/01/07/06 (paid content, opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.
    Last edited by revia; 2011-01-19 at 18:28.

  2. #2
    New Lounger
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    I wanted to share how I installed Windows 7 to a 2002 vintage laptop (1GHz P3 w/ 512MB RAM, 20GB HDD). The laptop has a PCMCIA USB 2.0 card (the built-in USB port is broken) and it has a bootable CD-ROM drive. Short of purchasing a DVD drive for the laptop, installing from a USB stick was my only option; booting from the PCMCIA USB card isn't supported by the BIOS. The laptop had XP on it, but the Win7 installer will not run under XP. Since BartPE and UBCD4Win are based on XP they can't be used either. Around this time I read a blog entry on the Windows 7 AIK (Automated Installation Kit). The Windows 7 AIK is available for download to the public here and lets you build a WinPE boot CD. The laptop booted my WinPE boot disc to a command line interface (similar to safe mode with command prompt). I changed drive letters to my USB install stick and was able to install Windows 7. Rather than using the Microsoft utility I used Novicorp WinToFlash to build my USB install stick. It lets you build USB install sticks for XP, Vista, Server 2003, and Server 2008, and Win7, plus a few other options. One other possible solution I didn't try was booting a Vista recovery disk.

  3. #3
    3 Star Lounger Woody's Avatar
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    Chris -

    Excellent approach! I never would've thought of it...
    Woody

    For Dummies book author, Senior Contributing Editor for InfoWorld, and long-suffering Windows victim. Check out the latest at AskWoody.com.

  4. #4
    New Lounger
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    Thanks for the tip! I'm not ready to upgrade to Windows 7 yet but when I am, I have 3 machines I will need to update.

    As I read your article, I got to thinking: Could I use the same approach to put multiple CD ISOs on a thumb drive? I am leaving for Afghanistan in a couple of months and it would be SO much more convenient to be able to install and run my games from a USB drive than to carry a number of CDs around hoping that the heat, cold, terrain, etc. would not destroy the discs.

    What do you think?

  5. #5
    New Lounger
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    Hello Woody,

    Thanks for your excellent notes on upgrading / migrating to Windows 7. I used your information to build a 32bit Win 7 USB drive, which is right now loading onto my IBM ThinkPad T40. The 32bit USB build went like a charm. Then I went to build a 64bit Win 7 USB drive the same way. That didn't go so smoothly on my 32 bit AMD PC. I got an error saying that the (very nice) MS Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool for moving the .iso to the USB drive finished with an error because bootsect.exe would not execute. This results in a USB drive with all the right files on it, but not in a bootable format.

    The MS help page for the W7UDDT give a workaround for downloading the 32bit bootsect.exe file to the working directory on your PC. The only problem is that the workaround requires access to the MS Store Account where you purchased the .iso file... Well, that's not so good if your .iso file came from another source and you don't have a Store Account. If you've downloaded the file from a WWW source, I don't have a solution; perhaps you can supply the file via the Lounge, or something. If, however, you purchased the DVD media set, you have the needed file on the 32bit software DVD. Just put it in a DVD drive, navigate to the \boot directory, and there you will find the needed bootsect.exe file, as pretty as you please. Copy it to the W7UDDT working directory, per the help page instructions, and everything is good to go.

    I hope this helps others who are setting up to move to Windows 7 or have already run into this problem. It took me a few minutes to search around the Web and figure out this solution. I didn't see it documented anywhere, so thought this would be useful in the Lounge.

    Regards,

    Don

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