How-to: Create a bootable Windows 8 USB flash drive

Bootable USB flash drives are far more convenient than DVD discs.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

This has become a popular question as of late so I thought I'd throw a quick page up outlining how to do it.

Note: This procedure also works for Windows 7.

I'll warn you in advance that there are a lot of steps involved to do this! Also, you'll need an 8GB or larger USB flash drive.

  1. Download the Windows 8 .ISO from the Microsoft website.
  2. Mount the .ISO file as a drive ... if you don't have a tool to do this, I suggest SlySoft's Virtual CloneDrive - it's free! Alternatively, you can burn it to a DVD using a tool such as ImgBurn and pop the disc in your drive.
  3. Format your USB flash drive ready like this: - Insert a USB flash drive into your computer - Start a Command Prompt as an administrator (right-click on the entry and select Run as administrator) and type diskpart and then press ENTER - Next, type the following BOLD lines a line at a time, pressing ENTER at the end of each line after the command has completed: DISKPART> list disk DISKPART> select disk X Note: X is the number for your USB flash drive you obtained from the list command from the previous step. DISKPART> clean DISKPART> create partition primary DISKPART> select partition 1 DISKPART> active DISKPART> format FS=NTFS DISKPART> assign DISKPART> exit
  4. Next you need to make your USB flash drive bootable. Start another Command Prompt as an administrator and navigate to the boot folder of the Windows 8 ISO image then type the following: bootsect /nt60 X: Note: Where X is the drive letter for your USB flash drive
  5. From a Command Prompt type the following: XCOPY X:\*.* Y:\ /E /J /H Note: Where Y is the drive letter for your USB flash drive and X is the drive letter of your mounted Windows 8 .ISO file
  6. Boot your PC up from your USB flash drive. If your PC won't boot from your USB flash drive then you'll need to dig out your motherboard manual and twiddle with the boot device settings.

And you're done!

Editorial standards