How to install Windows 10 onto a new computer using a USB drive
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- You can install Windows 10 by downloading a copy of the installation files onto a USB flash drive.
- Your USB flash drive will need to be 8GB or larger, and preferably should have no other files on it.
- To install Windows 10, your PC will need at least a 1 GHz CPU, 1 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of hard drive space.
Installing Windows used to require putting the files on a CD or DVD. These days, installing Windows 10 is simple. All you’ll need is a USB flash drive and another computer with access to the internet.
System requirements for installing Windows 10
Microsoft’s system requirements for Windows 10 are fairly relaxed — you don’t need a powerful computer to get it up and running.
How to create a Windows 10 Installation USB
If in doubt, here are the minimum system requirements you’ll need:
- Processor: 1 GHz or faster CPU.
- RAM: At least 1 GB for the 32-bit version of Windows 10. or 2 GB for the 64-bit version.
- Storage: 16 GB or more free space on your hard drive for the 32-bit version of Windows 10. You’ll need 20 GB or more for 64-bit Windows 10.
- Graphics chipset: It needs to be compatible with DirectX 9 or later, with WDDM 1.0 drivers.
- Display: It should support at least 800×600 pixels.
- Internet access. While internet access is generally not required for setup, in some rare cases (notably, Windows 10 in S mode), your computer needs a connection to the internet via Ethernet or Wi-Fi.
How to install Windows 10
To get the Windows installation files ready, you’ll need a Windows computer that’s already set up and connected to the internet. Once that’s done, you’ll move them to the new computer.
Preparing your installation files
Insert your 8 GB or larger USB drive. It doesn’t need to be blank, but note that any content on the drive will be erased during the setup.
Open the Download Windows 10 website in a browser. There, scroll to the “Create Windows 10 installation media” option and click “Download tool now.”
After the software downloads to your computer, run it and accept the license agreement.
On the “What do you want to do” page, click “Create installation media for another PC” and then click “Next” (unless you’re planning on re-installing Windows on this same computer).
On the next page, you can customize the Windows 10 installation settings. If you don’t want the defaults, clear the checkbox for “Use the recommended options for this PC” and then choose the language, edition, and architecture you want. When you’re done, click “Next.”
On the “Choose which media to use” page, choose to burn the image to a “USB flash drive.” Click “Next.”
Windows should automatically find the USB drive and select it. If you have more than one inserted in your PC, choose the right one, and then click “Next.”
The installation files will be copied to your USB flash drive. This will take a while. When it’s done, take the USB drive and insert it into the computer you want to install Windows onto.
Installing the files
You’ll need to change the boot order so that the PC will recognize the USB drive. Start the computer and press the correct key to launch the UEFI or BIOS controls at startup — this is usually done by pressing F1, F2, Escape, or Delete as it starts.
When the startup menu appears, find the “boot” control menu and ensure your computer is configured to boot from USB. Then save the UEFI/BIOS and exit.
When the computer restarts, it should boot from the USB drive and automatically start the Windows 10 installation program. Now you can just follow the instructions to install Windows to your PC.
You’ll need a license key to complete the Windows 10 setup, but you don’t actually need it to get Windows up and running. If you don’t have a key yet, you can postpone entering the key until after the files are installed.
In the meantime, Windows 10 will run in a limited state. Some features will be disabled, but the operating system is still completely usable. That will allow you time to purchase a Windows 10 key.
Dave Johnson is a technology journalist who writes about consumer tech and how the industry is transforming the speculative world of science fiction into modern-day real life. Dave grew up in New Jersey before entering the Air Force to operate satellites, teach space operations, and do space launch planning. He then spent eight years as a content lead on the Windows team at Microsoft. As a photographer, Dave has photographed wolves in their natural environment; he’s also a scuba instructor and co-host of several podcasts. Dave is the author of more than two dozen books and has contributed to many sites and publications including CNET, Forbes, PC World, How To Geek, and Insider.
Create a Windows 10 USB Bootable Flash Drive
In this post I will cover different methods to create a Windows 10 USB bootable from a Windows 10 ISO file. There are many tools available to create a USB bootable device but not all of them are free. So in this post I will cover some free tools that will help you install Windows 10 using a USB flash drive.
With Windows 7 reaching it’s end of support, a lot of Windows 7 users are now looking to upgrade to Windows 10. Some people prefer to install Windows 10 from scratch. While others might look to retain their data by simply upgrading to Windows 10.
Gone are the days when you bought a PC that had a DVD writer installed. Most of the software installations were done via either a CD or DVD. Today most of the CPU cases don’t even have a DVD drive slot. External DVD writers have gained popularity since they are easy to connect and use.
Installing Windows 10 on a PC has become very simple. To start with you need a Windows 10 ISO file, a pen drive that can hold the Windows 10 installation files (at-least 8GB size). And finally a tool that can create a Windows 10 bootable media.
Using Rufus to Create Windows 10 USB Bootable
Rufus is free tool to create bootable USB drives. It’s a very light utility that helps format and create bootable USB flash drives. It is also available as portable installer. To download the latest version of Rufus tool, click here.
To create Windows 10 USB bootable using Rufus
- Open the Rufus.exe tool.
- Plug-in the USB device to the computer.
- If it is a virtual machine, ensure you select the VM and click Connect.
- Select the Device which is a pen drive in our case.
- Under Boot Selection, select the Windows 10 ISO file.
- Choose the partition scheme.
- Under Format options, choose the file system and cluster size.
- Finally click Start. Wait for the tool to complete the operation.
You can now unplug the USB device. Use this USB device to install Windows 10 on a computer.
Windows USB/DVD Download Tool
An alternate and free tool to create Windows 10 USB bootable is Windows USB/DVD tool. When this tool was first released it was called Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool.
The Windows USB/DVD Download tool allows you to create a copy of your Windows 10 ISO file on a USB flash drive or a DVD.
Before you install this tool, install the.NET Framework 2.0 first. That’s because this tool requires.NET Framework 2.0 to work.
Run the setup and on the welcome screen click Next.
Select the Source file by clicking Browse. Select the Windows 10 ISO file and click Next.
Choose the media type which is either USB device or DVD. If you are selecting USB device, plug-in the USB device to your system.
Click Begin Copying.
The tool copies the contents of ISO file to the USB device that you specified. Wait for the message “Boot USB device created successfully“. Unplug the USB device and you can now use this USB device to image a PC.
Create Windows 10 Installation Media – Media Creation Tool
You can use Media Creation tool from Microsoft to create Windows 10 installation media. Most of all you will first need to have a license to install Windows 10. You can then download and run the media creation tool.
To download the Windows 10 media creation tool, click here. The media creation tool will help you achieve two things.
- You can use this tool to upgrade your PC to Windows 10.
- You can create a Windows 10 installation media and use it to install Windows 10 on another PC.
This tool needs a working internet connection to download the installation files. Ensure the USB stick is of at-least 8GB capacity or more.
Run the setup file and on the welcome page, click Accept.
Select Create Installation media (USB flash drive, DVD or ISO file) for another PC. Click Next.
By default the option “Use the recommended options for this PC” is checked. Uncheck the box to choose custom language, edition and architecture. Click Next.
If you are going to create a Windows 10 ISO file choose the second option. Else select USB Flash Drive and click Next.
Make a Bootable Windows 10 or 11 USB for Free
Select a USB flash drive here. Click Next.
The tool now creates a Windows 10 USB bootable media. Click Finish.
Unplug the USB device and use it to image other PC’s.
Prajwal Desai Last Updated: March 1, 2021
How to Create Portable Windows 10 to USB Drive (Windows 11 Support)
You can create portable Windows 10 on a USB in two ways. One is using EaseUS Todo Backup to create Windows 10 portable drive. The other is downloading ISO files from the Microsoft website to make a Windows 10 To Go USB.
Updated by Larissa on 2023/04/23
Written by Tracy King
There are at least two ways to make portable Windows 10 on USB. You can run the portable USB creator software from EaseUS, or download the ISO files to your USB.
What Is A Windows 11/10/8/7 Portable Drive?
According to Google’s search results, it can be identified that a portable Windows USB drive is a pen drive that is installed Windows system with Windows ISO and system files. It allows users to boot their computers or other PCs from the USB portable drive.
What is this for? Here is a list of advantages of a portable Windows USB drive:
|When your computer or laptop suddenly crashes due to system failure or internal error, you can no longer boot from the PC. A portable Windows USB drive can help you reboot the PC from the USB drive, and then you can continue your work and find a solution to repair the corrupted Windows system.||Windows portable USB drive allows you to take your own Windows system anywhere you need, and you can even directly boot your Windows from a USB drive on other computers. This will save your time and energy to take a laptop wherever you go on business.|
Tip 1. How to Make Portable Windows 10 on USB Drive (with Software)
So how to effectively create such a portable Windows USB drive? For example, how to create a portable Windows USB drive for Windows 10 users? How to install and clone a Windows system to a USB drive without complex methods?
Fortunately, powerful system clone software EaseUS Todo Backup can do the job. It allows you to effectively clone and install Windows 10, 8, or 7, etc. systems to a USB drive with simple clicks. All ordinary users can do the job. You may download this software and learn how to make your Windows system bootable from a tiny USB drive now.
- Check the unallocated space (enough unallocated space on the left)
- Check the partition style (the same with the system drive)
Here is a detailed step-by-step guide to help you effectively create a portable USB system boot drive for Windows 10:
Check how much disk space is used for the system C drive. Let’s assume 40GB. Then prepare a qualified USB drive, of which the disk capacity must be larger than 40GB.
Do you use an empty new USB drive or an old one? Make sure that all the important data has been safely transferred because the system clone will overwrite data on it completely.
Correctly connect the USB drive to your machine and make sure that Windows has detected it and assigned a drive letter to it.
Follow the overall process to create a portable Windows USB drive and boot from it:
Step 1. Launch EaseUS Todo Backup. Expand the Tools menu and click “System Clone”.
Step 2. On the “System clone” window, the software will choose the system partition and boot partition by default. Just Choose the USB drive as the destination disk. Click on “Advanced options” and then “Create a portable Windows USB Drive”. Click “OK” and then “Next”.
Step 3. You can preview or adjust the disk layout on the destination drive. If there is no problem, click “Proceed” and the software will start immediately cloning the default system partitions of your desktop/laptop to the USB drive. After the cloning process is over, you can safely plug the USB drive out.
Step 4. Boot from the USB drive.
- Connect your portable USB to the computer
- Restart the computer and press “Del” to enter BIOS
- Set the PC to boot from the portable USB by changing the boot order in BIOS under the “Boot” tab
- Save changes and you’ll see your system booting up from the USB drive
You can migrate Windows 10 to SSD by means of cloning the Windows system drive partition from HDD/SSD to the new SSD.
Tip 2. How to Make a Windows 10 To Go USB Drive (with ISO File)
If you don’t want to use the software, you can download Windows 10 ISO file to make a portable Windows USB. To make it, you need to create Windows 10 installation media and then burn the ISO to DVD. Here are the details.
- A copy of Rufus (https://rufus.ie/) or WinToUSB
- A USB 3.0 flash drive with at least 32 GB of storage space
- A Windows ISO file
- A valid license for your portable copy of Windows
Step 1. You need to download and run the media creation tool.
As creating Windows 10 installation media will delete the content on USB or blank DVD, you’d better use a blank USB or blank DVD.
Step 2. On the “What do you want to do?” interface, select “Create installation media for another PC”, and then select “Next”.
Step 3. Choose the language, edition, and architecture (64-bit or 32-bit) for Windows 10. Select media tool you want to use:
To Burn ISO to USB in Windows 10:
Go to Rufus and download the latest version. After that, double-click the.exe file to launch Rufus and connect your USB to your computer. Then burn ISO to USB.
Step 1. Choose the USB device you want to burn the ISO file to. From the Boot selection drop-down menu, choose “Disk or ISO image (Please select)”, then click “SELECT” and choose the ISO file stored on your computer.
Step 2. To ensure you can boot from the USB on both UEFI and BIOS computer, choose “MBR” under the Partition scheme,
Step 3. Leave the other options unchanged and click “Start” to begin burning the Windows 10 ISO file to the USB drive.
How to Run Windows 10 from a USB Drive
When you want to launch Windows 10 on a different computer, insert your USB drive into that PC. Then, follow these steps to run Windows 10 from a USB drive.
Step 1. Press the appropriate key (F2, F12, Delete, or Esc) to launch your Boot menu and choose boot from the USB drive.
Step 2. The first time you run Windows 10 off the USB drive, you’ll need to go through the normal Windows setup process. Then, activate Windows 10 with your license code.
Both of the solutions can help you create a portable USB drive. No matter which method you choose, plan accordingly. Make sure the hardware is available wherever you’re going.
FAQ on How to Create Portable Windows 10 to USB
How do I run a portable version of Windows from a USB drive?
You can first insert your USB drive into that PC, then press the appropriate key (F2, F12, Delete, or Esc) to launch your Boot menu and choose boot from the USB drive. The first time you run Windows 10 off the USB drive, you’ll need to go through the normal Windows setup process. Then, activate Windows 10 with your license code.
Can I just put the Windows 10 ISO on USB?
No, you’ll need to create a bootable USB drive using either the Media Creation Tool or Rufus. The Windows 10 ISO is a disc image that needs to be written to a USB drive in order for it to be used as installation media.
Larissa has rich experience in writing technical articles. After joining EaseUS, she frantically learned about data recovery, disk partitioning, data backup, and other related knowledge. Now she is able to master the relevant content proficiently and write effective step-by-step guides on computer issues.
Tracy joined in EaseUS in 2013 and has been working with EaseUS content team for over 10 years. Being enthusiastic in computing and technology, she writes tech how-to articles and share technical solutions to resolve Windows Mac data recovery, data backup, partition management, data transfer, Windows update issues, etc.
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How to Make a Bootable Windows USB Install / Recovery Drive
Any 8GB or larger USB Flash drive can boot Windows installer.
Microsoft makes it easy to create a bootable USB Flash drive for Windows 10. This nifty little all-purpose tool works to install whichever Windows 10 version it contains. Because it’s bootable, it also serves quite nicely as a bootable recovery drive, should you be unable to start.
That means you can instruct your PC to boot to the USB drive by interrupting the normal boot sequence. Then, by targeting this drive as your boot source, you can run the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE) it contains to conduct repairs on any Windows 10 PC or do a fresh install (see how to get Windows 10 for free or cheap). This is extremely handy when a PC experiences a BSOD or won’t boot and you need to fix the problem or access files on the boot drive.
Meet the Microsoft Media Creation Tool (aka MCT)
In order to create a bootable Windows 10 USB drive, you need to get Microsoft’s Media Creation Tool (MCT).
Insert a blank USB Flash drive into your PC. It needs to be at least 8GB. If it’s not blank, note that it will be overwritten.
Click Download tool now under under “Create Windows 10 installation media”
This downloads a file named MediaCreationTool.exe to your Downloads folder. I usually rename this file to include the Windows Version at the end of the string, so it becomes MediaCreationTool21H1.exe. Insert a blank or reusable USB flash drive into an open USB port on your PC, and run this tool. First it tells you it’s “Getting a few things ready.” This can take a minute or two, so be patient.
Click Accept when prompted. The MCT will continue on “Getting a few things” ready.
Select “Create installation media …” and click Next.
Choose the language, edition and architecture to match the target PC (the one you want to fix). Most of the time the defaults from your working PC will match those of your target PC, so you can stick with them unchanged as in Figure 4.
Select USB Flash drive. If you choose ISO, you will later need to write the ISO to a Flash drive so this saves a step.
Select your USB Flash drive from the storage device menu.Warning! All contents will be overwritten. As you can see in Figure 6, I have numerous USB drives on my PC, and I’ll be recycling a drive which has bootable media for older Windows Version 1709. Once you’ve selected your destination drive, click Next.
The MCT will download a fresh copy of the installation files for Windows 10 to your local C: drive. This usually involves 4-5 GB of material, so it can take a while to complete. On my system, it took about 2 minutes thanks to a gigabit Ethernet connection via Spectrum. A progress indicator counts you through the download process.
Once the counter gets to 100%, it then verifies the download and counts through its check in percentages there as well. I’ll skip the screencap of this step. Once it hits 100%. this process can take a minute or two – then the MCT writes the contents of the USB drive. When that’s done you’ll see a “ready” report like the one shown in Figure 8. Click Finish to complete the process and close the MCT.
The process concludes with a brief cleanup to get rid of temporary files and other detritus. Then the MCT exits. Now, you’ve got a brand-new, ready-to-use bootable USB flash drive with Windows 10 21H1 (or whatever version is current as you read this).
Booting Your Windows 10 Install USB
As a Windows PC is booting, you may be able to interrupt the boot sequence before the Windows loader gets going by striking a function or special key on that machine. On my newer Lenovo PCs, the BIOS tells me that striking the proverbial “any” key will interrupt initial boot-up. If I take that route, I must then strike the F12 function key to get to an alternate boot menu.
If you can boot into Windows, you can force your PC to boot off the USB drive on restart. If you click through Start Settings Update Security Recovery Advanced Startup Restart Now, your PC will restart immediately and offer the Recovery environment as an option upon start-up. Either way, as long as you’ve got the USB drive plugged into a USB port as the system restarts, you will then be able to boot from that device into WinRE. If you boot to this drive, you can also use it to perform a clean install of Windows 10 on your PC by running setup.exe from the drive’s root folder. It will take over from there.
On the other hand, if you want to, you can upgrade your PC to whichever version of Windows 10 is present on your USB flash drive. Simply run setup.exe from the root folder to launch the upgrade process, and the software will take it from there.
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Ed Tittel is a long-time IT writer, researcher and consultant, and occasional contributor to Tom’s Hardware. A Windows Insider MVP since 2018, he likes to cover OS-related driver, troubleshooting, and security topics.