How can I install Windows 11 from USB flash drive?

Copper Contributor

Hi all,

 

I was gifted an used PC without OS on it. I want to install Windows 11 on it and I was told I can do it from a USB flash drive. I am a new tech newbie and don't know how to do this.

 

I've already downloaded the Windows 11 ISO file, but I need guidance on how to properly create a Windows 11 bootable USB drive and proceed with the installation.  If anyone has gone through this process and can share a detailed, step-by-step guide to help me install Windows 11 from USB flash drive, I would greatly appreciate it.

 

 

 

16 Replies

First, make a bootable USB with Win-Boot-Mate app. It will create two boot options (BIOS and UEFI). This means you can install Windows 11 on old and modern computers. it can also help you bypass the Windows 11 system requirements. Here is the simple guide:

https://www.tekgit.com/create-windows-11-bootable-usb

 

win11-bypass.jpg

 

After that, boot your PC from USB and follow the prompt to install Windows 11 from the USB flash drive

 

usb boot option bios uefi.png

 

 

@Esteville To install Windows 11 from a USB flash drive, start by creating a bootable USB drive. Download the Windows 11 ISO file from the official Microsoft website, and use a tool like Windows Media Creation Tool to transfer the ISO to your USB drive. Ensure the USB drive has at least 8 GB of storage space. 

 

Next, insert the bootable USB drive into the computer where you want to install Windows 11. Restart the computer and enter the BIOS/UEFI settings by pressing a key like F2, F12, Delete, or Esc during the startup process. In the BIOS/UEFI settings, change the boot order to prioritize the USB drive and save the changes. The computer will then restart and boot from the USB drive.

 

Once the computer boots from the USB drive, the Windows 11 installation setup will begin. Follow the on-screen instructions to select your language, time, and keyboard preferences, then click "Next" and "Install Now." If prompted, enter your Windows 11 product key, or choose "I don’t have a product key" to activate Windows later. Select "Custom: Install Windows only (advanced)" to perform a clean installation, then choose the partition or drive where you want to install Windows 11.

 

The installation process will commence, copying files and installing Windows 11, which may take some time and require several restarts. After the installation is complete, you'll need to set up Windows 11 by customizing settings, creating a user account, and signing in with your Microsoft account. Finally, check for updates and install any necessary drivers to ensure your system is up to date.

 

You don't need to change the BIOS settings. There is a quick boot menu available during the setup, where you can choose a temporary booting device at this time.  The quick boot menu can be accessed during the startup process by pressing a specific key, such as F12, Esc, F10, or F8, depending on the computer's manufacturer. This key is usually displayed on the screen briefly when the computer is first turned on.

Note: Choosing a boot device from the quick boot menu does not change the permanent boot order set in the BIOS/UEFI. It only applies to the current boot session. Once you select the booting device, you can now start installing Windows 11 from USB flash stick by following the screen prompts.

@EstevilleOne thing you should pay attention to is that hardware specs of the gifted PC. Windows 11 has a set of system requirements, such as TPM 2.0, Secure Boot or 8GB RAM. If your PC is not fully compatible, you will come across "this PC can't run Windows 11" error when you are trying to install Windows 11 from USB. Ask the one who gave you the PC for the hardware specs.

@Esteville When installing Windows 11 from a bootable USB , the target drive should be partitioned to GPT (GUID Partition Table). This is because GPT is necessary for UEFI boot mode, which is required by Windows 11. This is typically configured in the BIOS/UEFI settings.  

 

If the target drive is MBR, then you have to convert it to GPT with the built-in mbr2gpt utility.  Open Command Prompt as an administrator and type:

 

mbr2gpt /convert /disk:<disk_number> /allowFullOS

 

Replace <disk_number> with the number of the disk you want to convert, which you can find from the list disk command.

 

Note that this process can be done without data loss, but it is still recommended to back up your data before proceeding.

Before installing Windows 11 from a bootable USB,  please make sure your computer has the following hardware required by Windows 11:

 

  • Intel 8th Gen CPU
  • 8GB RAM
  • TPM 2.0
  • Secure Boot
  • Internet connection
  • Microsoft account

 

If any of the requirements is missing, then you are unable to clean install Windows 11 from bootable USB in normal ways. You have to apply registry hacks or other software to help you install Windows 11 on unsupported hardware. They will help you bypass the Windows 11 system requirements.

Extract the Windows 11 ISO file you downloaded earlier to a folder on your computer. You can use a tool like 7-Zip or WinZip to extract the contents.

keep your antivirus software handy! Installing Windows 11 from USB drive can potentially expose your system to malware and viruses.

@Esteville 

I also just recently clean installed Windows 11 from USB flash using the Windows Media Creation Tool, and the whole process was surprisingly easy. I downloaded the tool and inserted an 8GB USB flash drive to turn it into a bootable installation disk. The tool interface is very intuitive and it only takes a few steps to set everything up.

 

The tool started downloading all the necessary files for Windows 11 and then automatically wrote them to the USB drive. This part took a while because the files are large and the writing speed depends on the speed of your USB drive.

 

Once it was done writing, I plugged the USB into the computer I was going to install Windows 11 on, and when I booted up I went into the BIOS setup and adjusted the boot order to give priority to the USB drive. After saving and exiting, the computer booted from the USB and entered the Windows installation interface.

 

The installation was actually pretty straight forward, just follow the instructions to select the language, keyboard layout, etc., and then select to do a clean install. Since my hard drive was blank, I also had to quickly format and create partitions. The on-screen instructions were clear throughout the installation process and it only took a few simple clicks.

By pressing Shift + F10, you'll open the Command Prompt and gain access to the Disk Management utility, which allows you to prepare your disk for installation.

@Esteville 

I personally once encountered the problem of Windows Media Creation Tool not being able to detect USB flash drives. No matter what I tried, the tool just wouldn't recognize my USB drive, which really confused and frustrated me.

 

Since I needed to install Windows 11 from USB urgently, I decided to look for an alternative. I had heard of Rufus before, a very popular free tool for creating bootable USB installation drives. I decided to give it a try. After downloading and installing Rufus, I found its interface to be simple and easy to understand. Everything went smoothly without any problems.

 

After the creation, I restarted the computer, adjusted the BIOS settings to prioritize the USB device for boot, and the computer successfully booted from the USB into the Windows installer. The rest of the installation process was as straightforward as usual.

Did you recovered your personal files from drives after installing window?

 

I have done this before. My advise is using another tool if Windows Media Creation Tool stuck on downloading ISO. In fact, I had no success with this official tool. In addition, use a flash USB 3.0 as it is much faster to copy ISO files and write files to the internal drive. These two things are very important if you want to install Windows 11 from USB flash drive.
You have to back up the important data as well as the apps when installing Windows 11 from a USB drive. Though you have the option to keep the files during installation, it is high recommended taking a backup in case of data loss. You might have to reinstall the apps even you choose the Keep files option. The clean install will delete personal data and apps for sure!

@Chavezlee 

I recently tried to install Windows 11 from a bootable USB and ran into some trouble. Because Windows 11 requires UEFI mode, the target hard drive must be in GPT format, and my hard drive is in MBR format. So I decided to use the mbr2gpt tool to convert the hard drive from MBR to GPT.

 

Following the steps, I first opened the command prompt (run as administrator), entered the diskpart command, and found the number of the target disk, such as Disk 0. Then I exited diskpart and entered the mbr2gpt /convert /disk:0 /allowFullOS command. The tool showed that the conversion was successful and everything seemed to go smoothly.

 

However, when I restarted the computer and tried to continue installing Windows 11, the system still could not recognize my disk and prompted a GPT partition error. I checked the BIOS settings and confirmed that it was set to UEFI mode, but the problem persisted. After a while, I found that it might be because the Legacy Mode in the BIOS was not completely turned off, which caused the converted GPT disk to not be correctly recognized. I turned off Legacy Mode and made sure only UEFI mode was enabled, but the problem was still not solved.

 

Finally, I had no choice but to give up this method and reformat the hard drive, choosing the GPT partition format when installing Windows 11 directly. This time the installation was finally successful.

 It’s actually very simple and there are many tools that can do it, but I used command line tools to create a bootable USB drive, then I can install Windows 11 from a USB flash drive. The whole process is also quite simple. Here are the steps:

 

1. Insert the USB drive and open the command prompt (run as administrator).

2. Type diskpart to start the partition management tool, and then enter the following commands in sequence:

 

list disk
select disk X (X is your driver)
clean
create partition primary
format fs=ntfs quick
active
assign
exit

3. Your USB drive is now formatted and set up.

 

Then, use the xcopy command to copy the contents of the ISO file to the USB drive. Assuming the ISO file is on drive D and the USB drive is drive E, enter:

 

xcopy D:\*.* /s/e/f E:\

This process may take several minutes, but once it's finished, your USB drive will be ready to install Windows 11.

 

I successfully created a bootable USB drive using this method, and the installation went smoothly. I hope this helps you, and feel free to ask any questions!