| By Woody 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.
When USB installation beckons for Windows 7
If you intend to install Windows 7 on only one or two machines — each of which has a functioning DVD drive — then the setup DVD is all you need. There’s no reason to futz around with a USB drive.
However, if you’re going to load Win7 onto several machines, installing the OS from a USB drive is much faster than doing so from a DVD. And you don’t have to worry about greasy thumb prints or the family cat scratching the working side of that pricey setup disc.
A USB-based installation’s speed and durability are nice, but there are situations where it’s essentially your only good option. The USB installation method actually originated as a means for owners of netbooks (which often ship with no optical drive at all) to install Windows 7.
In fact, a USB install may be the best way to install Win7 if either of the following two situations applies:
- Your PC is running Windows, but you don’t have or can’t easily attach a DVD drive to it. For example, you don’t want to buy an external DVD drive for your netbook, or your desktop has a CD drive but no DVD drive. Maybe you want to install Win7, but the machine’s DVD drive suddenly turns belly-up, which is what happened to me recently.