How To Install Windows 8 or 8.1 From a USB Device

Installing Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 from a USB device, like a flash drive, has become one of the most common and essential thing this days.

It’s not surprising why many new computers, especially tablets and smaller laptops and desktops, no longer have optical drives.

USB flash drive

That Windows 8 install disc is of no use and importance if there is no disk drive available to run the DVD!

If you want to install Windows 8 from a USB device, you’ll need to copy the setup files from the DVD to the USB drive. But, by copying it simply there won’t be everything. Windows 8 software is also sold as a downloadable ISO file which, if you choose to buy Windows 8 that way,it requires similar steps to get it properly copied to a USB drive.

Irrespective of the kind of Windows 8 DVD software you have, you need a flash drive to copy the setup, or a Windows 8 ISO file to achieve the same goal. The following steps will guide you through the installation process with the Windows 8 installation files properly copied to a flash drive.

Duration: Transferring/ Copying the Windows 8 installation files into a flash drive or other external USB device will take between 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the format your copy of Windows 8 is in right now and the speed of your computer.

Compatibility: The following steps can also be used for Windows 8 (standard) or Windows 8 Pro, as well as those editions of Windows 8.1.

Required Materials:

  • A USB flash drive (4 GB for 32-bit, 8 GB for 64-bit)
  • A Windows 8/8.1 DVD or ISO
  • Availability of a computer with a DVD drive, if you have a Windows 8 DVD installation disk) with either of these operating systems (Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows XP) installed or the Availability of an External USB DVD Drive.

NOTE: If you have a Windows 8 ISO file and you want to transfer it to a flash drive, begin with second step (Step 2) but if you have a Windows 8 DVD instead, Proceed from Step 1.

Installing Windows 8 or 8.1 From a USB Device

  1. Create an ISO file from the Windows 8 DVD. This is the process in which you create a single file, called an ISO image, which contains all the data stored on the Windows 8 setup DVD disc. This ISO file can be created with Daemon Tool or Ripping.

    Once you have an ISO image created from your Windows 8 disc, come back here and continue on with this tutorial which will explain how to get that ISO file onto a flash drive.

    Note: If you have created your ISO file already with your favorite program, called “ripping,” then you can use whatever application or software you mostly use. However, if you’ve never created an ISO image, or don’t have a program installed right now that does it, Kindly search for tools and application with a video tutorial on how to Create an ISO file.

  2. Download the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool from Microsoft and then install it.

    This is a free Microsoft program that helps to properly format your flash drive and then copies the contents of the Windows 8 installation ISO file you have to the USB flash drive.

    Note: Don’t be disturbed by the program title “Windows 7”. This program works perfectly well with Windows 8 ISO files which is compatible with all these windows Operating systems, e.g. Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows XP.

  3. Launch the Windows 7 USB DVD Download Tool program. The shortcut should appear on the Desktop, as well as in “All Programs” on your Start menu, depending on Version of Windows you installed on your computer.
  4. On Step 1 of 4: Choose ISO file screen, Click Browse
  5. Locate, and then select, your Windows 8 ISO file. Then click or touch Open.

    Note: If you have downloaded Windows 8 from Microsoft, check your Downloads folder or your Desktop for the ISO image. If you created an ISO image from your Windows 8 DVD, the ISO file will be wherever you have created it.

  6. Click Next.
  7. At the Step 2 of 4: Choose media type screen, Select USB device

    Note: At this stage, you can see that there is also a DVD option. Since our aim is to transfer Windows 8’s setup files to a USB flash drive, this tool you can also be used to burn a Windows 8 ISO image to a DVD or BD disc.

  8. At the Step 3 of 4: Insert USB device screen, choose from the drop-down list the USB flash drive or USB external hard drive which you want to copy the Windows 8 setup files into and then click Begin copying.

    Tip: If the USB storage device you’re planning to use hasn’t been connected, you can insert it into the computer now and then click the blue refresh button to make it show up on the list.

  9. Click Erase USB Device if you are prompted with a “Not Enough Free Space window” message. If this message doesn’t appear, don’t worry, it means that your flash drive or external hard disk is already empty.

    Note: Every data/file you might have on this USB drive is going to be deleted as part of the process of getting the Windows 8 installation files copied.

  10. On Step 4 of 4: Creating bootable USB device, At this point, the Windows 8 installation files will begin to copy, it just takes few minutes for the Windows 7 USB DVD Downloaded Tool to prepare the drive.

    The first Process you will see is Formatting, which will be done under few seconds, depending on the size of your USB drive. The next process will be Copying files which could take up to 30 minutes long, depending on which Windows 8 ISO file you’re working from, as well as You computer speed.

  11. If all stages were successfully completed, then the next screen should display Bootable USB device created successfully with a Status that says Backup completed.

    You can now close the Windows 7 USB DVD Download Tool program window. The flash drive, or other external USB drive you’re using has now been properly configured as a bootable device and also has the necessary files to install Windows 8 on any system.

  12. Boot from the USB device that you just created to start the Windows 8 install process.

    Tip: If the Windows 8 setup process doesn’t start, it’s very likely that you’ll need to make boot order changes in the BIOS. See How To Change the Boot Order in BIOS if you need help doing that.

    Tip: If you have a UEFI based system and you still can’t boot Windows 8 Setup from the flash drive, even after setting the USB device first in the boot order, see Tip #1 below for help.

Tips & More Information

1. The Windows 7 USB DVD Downloaded Tool formats your USB drive as NTFS, a file system that many UEFI based computers will not boot from when on a USB drive.

To work around this issue, do this:

  • After Step 11 above, copy all the files from your flash drive to a named folder on your PC.
  • Manually Format the flash drive, with the older FAT32 file system option.
  • Copy back all the files from the named folder you created in Tip 1.1 back to the flash drive.
  • Repeat Step 12 above.

2. There are other alternative methods for getting a Windows 8 or 8.1 ISO image properly onto a USB flash drive but I prefer the procedure I’ve outlined above, but if you have trouble with it, that general ISO-to-USB procedure should work as well. 

3. Still having trouble installing Windows 8 or 8.1 from a flash drive or other USB device? Use the contact page, social networks or via email, and more.

Still having trouble installing Windows 8 or 8.1 from a flash drive or other USB device? Use the contact page, social networks or via email, and more.

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