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 how to put Windows 10 on USB reliably and easily.
To put Windows 10 onto a USB drive, download and run Microsoft’s Media Creation tool to prepare it properly. It will prepare it for the FAT32 file system and do everything required to make it bootable and ready to use for running the setup.
- How to Put Windows 10 on USB
- Reinstall Windows: Steps to begin the Windows installation
- If something goes wrong
We no longer rely on a CD or DVD to contain installation files. Using a bootable USB drive will reduce the time it takes to install Windows, and it is one of the best options when choosing storage media.
Besides, getting a DVD drive or disk is becoming more difficult.
Now I’ll show you how to easily create a USB drive to boot from it and install Windows 10 onto any machine.
How to Put Windows 10 on USB
Firstly, you will need to go and download the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool from Microsoft’s website and grab the tool now.
You can download the same tool for Windows 11 instead, depending on your preference as to which version of Windows you want.
Ensure you have plugged your USB drive into a free socket directly on your computer. Don’t plug it into any 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 begin 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 these instructions to create installation media:
1. Accept license terms (if you agree)
Once you have read the software license terms and agree to them, click the Accept button to continue.
2. Choose the installation type
3. Check or uncheck recommended options
If you aren’t using the computer you are currently using to install your new Windows 10, uncheck the Use the recommended options for this PC check box. Otherwise, leave it checked.
If you uncheck the option, choose the appropriate language. Select the 64-bit or 32-bit operating system (check your hardware architecture or processor specs on the target machine first), then click the Next button to continue.
4. Choose USB flash Drive
Choose the USB flash drive option. In some cases where you want to keep the Windows 10 ISO file for manual installation to other USB flash drives using a tool like Rufus, you can choose the ISO file option instead.
Click on the Next button to proceed to the next step.
5. Select your Windows 10 destination drive
Select the target USB drive on which you want the installation files to be installed, 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 Windows installation files and prepare the USB flash drive by erasing it and setting up a new partition. It will then copy all the downloaded files onto your USB drive. This will take a bit of time, so be patient.
7. The flash drive to install Windows is ready
The process is complete, and you have Windows 10 successfully set up on a bootable USB drive. You can use this USB drive on as many computers as you like.
Reinstall Windows: Steps to begin the Windows installation
It can also be noted that having an internet connection isn’t mandatory from this point onward.
From here, you must select the correct boot device in the computer’s bios that you wish to install Windows 10 on.
Enter the BIOS
In most cases, it’s simply a case of tapping the F12 or delete key when your computer first powers 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. Then, play the recorded video back and pause it so you can see the keystroke information.
Change the boot order in the BIOS
Just remember, if you enter the BIOS and set the first boot device to your USB drive, you must 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. You will be stuck performing the same initial first part of the Windows setup repeatedly each time the computer restarts.
Select a boot drive (preferred method)
It is more convenient to select the USB drive from the boot selection menu of the BIOS if you can. This will boot from your USB drive temporarily until the next restart.
This is achieved by pressing a hotkey for the boot menu instead of entering the BIOS.
As explained above, if your motherboard doesn’t support this functionality, you must enter the BIOS and change the boot priority.
Booting from the USB drive
If your changes in the BIOS were successful, the installation process installed onto the USB drive should launch and will look similar to a normal Windows boot initially.
After the initial loading screen, a Windows Setup window will appear.
You must complete a series of selections, including language selection, provide your Windows key, and prepare the hard drive or SSD for installation.
The process is fairly straightforward for most people and shouldn’t take long.
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 get it on a USB flash drive.
That’s how to put Windows 10 on a USB flash drive and install it on any computer’s HDD or SSD.
You can use it for a clean install or other repair purposes.
Over time, I have tested many different methods to accomplish this. However, most are unnecessary unless you encounter problems caused by unconventional hardware setups.
With minimal effort, Microsoft has tried to make it easy for anyone to use their tool and have Windows 10 up and running quickly.