If you want to install or repair Windows 10 on a computer, one of the most common ways is to use a USB drive with the necessary files. That’s what this guide is all about. I will show you the easiest and most reliable way to prepare and put Windows 10 onto a USB drive.
To put Windows 10 onto a USB drive, download and run Microsoft’s Media Creation tool to prepare the USB drive properly. It will prepare the USB drive for the FAT32 file system and do everything required to make it bootable and ready to use for running the setup for Windows 10.
Now I’ll show you the procedure in detail to easily create a USB drive so that you can boot from it and install Windows 10 onto any machine.
How to put Windows 10 installation files onto a USB
Firstly, you will need to go and download the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool from Microsoft’s website.
Make sure you have plugged your USB drive into a free USB socket directly on your computer. Avoid any USB hubs if you can.
Caution: Make sure you have backed up your USB drive before attempting this procedure. Anything that’s on there will be gone for good.
From there, run the application once it has completed downloading. To do this, double-click on the downloaded file to start the process.
Note: I highly recommend you unplug all USB drives that you have plugged into your computer, except the one you want the Windows 10 installation files installed.
Follow the following steps to complete the procedure:
1. Accept license terms (if you agree)
Once you have read through the software license terms, and you agree to it all, click on the ‘Accept’ button to continue.
2. Choose installation type
3. Check or uncheck recommended options
If you aren’t using the computer that you are currently using to install your new Windows 10 on, uncheck the ‘Use the recommended options for this PC’ check box.
Then choose the language options, whether you want a 64 or 32 bit operating system (check your hardware on the target machine first), then click on the ‘Next’ button to continue.
4. Choose USB flash Drive
Choose the ‘USB flash drive’ option and click on the ‘Next’ button to proceed to the next step.
5. Select your destination drive
Select the target drive that you want the installation files to be installed on, then click on the ‘Next’ button to move on to the next step.
6. The download and installation will proceed
The Media Creation Tool will download the needed installation files and proceed to prepare and copy them onto your USB drive. This will take a bit of time, so be patient.
The process is complete, and now you have Windows 10 successfully set up on the USB drive. You can use this USB drive on as many computers as you like.
Booting from the prepared Windows 10 USB drive
From here, you will have to select the correct boot device in the computer’s bios that you wish to install Windows 10 on to.
In most cases, it’s simply a case of tapping the F12 key when your computer first power on and posts. Some computers have a full-screen logo with some key commands listed somewhere.
If things move along too quickly and you cannot see these specific key presses listed there, try pressing the ‘Pause’ key on the keyboard and see if it pauses on the post screen. You can press any other key to unpause it.
If that fails, try recording the post-screen with your smartphone slow-motion video. Play the recorded video back and pause it where you can see the keystroke information.
Just remember, if you enter the BIOS and set the first boot device to your USB drive, you will have to undo that modification once the first boot has taken place from the Windows 10 setup.
Otherwise, it will keep booting up from the USB drive, and you won’t make any progress with the installation process, and you will be stuck performing the same initial first part of the Windows 10 setup over and over.
If something goes wrong: Please read my troubleshooting guide about why Windows 10 won’t install from a USB drive if you encounter problems when trying to execute this guide.
That’s how you get Windows 10 on a USB drive, to use it to install it onto any machine.
Over time I have tested many different methods to accomplish this. Most of them are unnecessary unless you are running into problems caused by unconventional hardware setups.
Microsoft has tried to make it easy for anyone to use their tool and have Windows 10 up and running in very little time with minimal effort.