This article describes how to create a bootable USB flash drive for installing Windows 10 from the ISO file you already have downloaded. If you don’t have Windows 10 ISO file downloaded, head-over to our other step-by-step guide that shows how to download Windows 10 directly from Microsoft servers and create the USB installation drive.
For both the methods, you need to have an USB flash drive of at least 8 GB capacity (quite obvious!). The flash drive will be formatted during the process, so make sure you backup whatever you have in it.
The Easy Way using Rufus Free Utility
One of the simplest methods is to use a free program ‘Rufus’.
2. Launch the Rufus program.
3. Connect the USB flash drive to your computer.
4. Assuming that the USB installation disk is for use on a PC and not on Mac (without using Bootcamp Assistant), this is the settings that I recommend:
- Partition scheme: MBR partition scheme for BIOS or UEFI
- File System: NTFS
- Volume Label: You can name whatever you want.
- Make sure ‘Create a bootable disk using..’ is checked and since we are talking about ISO image, select ‘ISO Image’ from the drop-down list, click on the icon next to it, then browse and select the Windows ISO file that you have.
5. Click ‘Start’ and wait for the process to finish.
That’s it. You now have the Bootable USB disk which you can plug-in to your targeted computer and boot into it to start Windows 10 installation. Depending on your computer make and model you may have to configure BIOS to allow booting from USB.
Alternate Method: All Manual, No need of Third-party Software
If you prefer not to use any third-party tool to create the USB installer, you can still do it yourselves by simply using elevated Command Prompt.
1. Connect the USB flash drive to your computer.
2. Open ‘Command Prompt’ with Administrator rights. If you never used it, then you should probably not be using this method. I suggest to use the Rufus method shown above.
3. Type diskpart in the Command Prompt to open disk management utility.
4. Type list disk and hit enter to see all the writable media that you have on your PC. You should see your USB flash drive here which need to be identified by size. 7728 MB is typically 8 GB flash drive, shown in below image.
5. As per your disk number, type select disk # and hit enter. In my example, # is 1. So I just type select disk 1 and hit enter.
6. It’s time to clean the USB flash drive, so type clean and hit enter.
7. We shall now create a bootable partition – to do that, type create partition primary and hit enter.
8. Select the partition that you just created – type select partition 1.
9. Type active and hit enter.
10. Next, we need to format the USB flash drive, so type format fs=ntfs and hit enter.
11. It’s good to assign a drive letter to it, so type type assign. As soon as you hit enter, you will see the explorer window of the USB disk showing empty content. Minimize it.
12. Close the command prompt.
13. Right-click on the Windows ISO file and ‘Mount’ it. If you don’t have ‘Mount’ in right-click context menu, then you might probably be using old version of Windows. Starting from Windows 8, mounting ISO image is built-in feature. Windows XP/Vista users can use a free third-party tool like SlySoft Virtual CloneDrive.
14. When the ISO is mounted, you can access all the files in it. Copy and paste all the contents into the empty USB disk that you just created.
You are done! Go ahead and try installing Windows 10 with this USB drive. Do let us know about how it worked out for you.