USB Bootable Vista Installation Flash Thumb Drive

ByLine
How to Create a Vista Installation USB Key
Synopsis
This will show you how to create a USB flash key drive that you can boot from to install Vista with
How to Create a Vista Installation USB Key


information   Information
This will show you how to create a USB flash key drive that you can boot from to install Vista with.
Tip   Tip
If the USB flash drive is of sufficient capacity, say 8GB, then after copying the Vista installation DVD onto it, you can create a new folder (ex: Device Drivers) in the USB key and place all of your latest driver installation files in it. This way you will have them handy to manually install the drivers after installing Vista from the USB key.
warning   Warning

  • You can only create a 32-bit Vista USB key from within a 32-bit OS (ex: Vista or XP).
  • You can only create a 64-bit Vista USB key from within a 64-bit OS (ex: Vista or XP).
  • The USB key needs to be at least 4 GB in size.
  • You must have a Retail Vista installation DVD, not a OEM Vista recovery CD.
  • This will delete everything on the USB key. Be sure to save anything that you do not want to lose on it somewhere else.
  • Before installing Vista from the USB key, you will need to:
    • Enable Legacy USB storage detect in the BIOS
    • Temporarily set the USB FDD (USB Flash Disk Drive) to be listed right before the hard drive (or partition) that you will be installing Vista on in the hard drive Boot Priority order list in the BIOS.
    • After you are finished installing Vista from the USB key, make the Vista hard drive (or partition) listed first in the hard drive Boot Priority order list in the BIOS.





METHOD ONE
Create Vista Installation USB Key using Vista ISO


Note   Note
You will need to have a Vista ISO file to do this option.

If you like, you can use the Create image file from disc feature of the free program ImgBurn with a retail Vista installation DVD to create a Vista ISO file.

If you do not have a retail Vista installation DVD, then you can download and create an official Vista ISO file using the tutorial here: Installation & Upgrade - Vista ISO - Download and Create Installation DVD or USB


1. Download and install the trial version of UltraIso.​
2. Plug in your USB key.​
3. Right click on the UltraIso shortcut, and click on Run as administrator.​
4. Click on File (menu bar) and Open. (See screenshot below)​
UltrISO-2.jpg

5. Navigate to your Vista ISO file and select it and click on the Open button. (See screenshot below)​
UltrISO-3.jpg

6. In the bottom Local pane, select your USB flash key drive. (See screenshot below)​
UltrISO-5.jpg

7. Click on Bootable (menu bar) and Write Disk Image. (See screenshot above)​
8. Make sure the locations are correct, and check the Verify box and click on the Write button. (See screenshot below)​
UltrISO-6.jpg

9. Click on Yes to confirm writing to the USB drive.​
10. When it's done, click on the Close button. (See screenshot below)​
UltrISO-8.jpg

11. You now have a Vista installation USB flash key drive. :)



METHOD TWO
Manually Create Vista Installation USB Key

1. Plug the USB key in.​
2. If AutoPlay opens a pop-up for the USB key, then just close it.​
NOTE: Make note of what the drive size is for the USB key for step 6 below. You can also open Computer (step 21) to see what the drive size is to. For example, mine is 3920 MB.​
4. In the elevated command prompt, type diskpart and press Enter. (See screenshot below)​
Step1.jpg

5. In the elevated command prompt, type list disk and press Enter. (See screenshot below)​
NOTE: Make note of what disk # your USB key is listed as for step 6 below. You can also look for the drive size (step 2) for the USB key to help ID the disk number. For example, mine is listed as Disk 1 here for the 3920 MB disk.​
Step2.jpg

6. In the elevated command prompt, type select disk # (your USB disk #) and press Enter. (See screenshot below)​
NOTE: You can also look for the drive size (step 2) for the USB key to help ID the disk number. For example, my USB key is listed as Disk 1, so I would type select disk 1 and press Enter.​
Step3.jpg

7. In the elevated command prompt, type clean and press Enter. (See screenshot below)​
Step4.jpg

8. In the elevated command prompt, type create partition primary and press Enter. (See screenshot below)​
Step5.jpg

9. In the elevated command prompt, type select partition 1 and press Enter. (See screenshot below)​
Step6.jpg

10. In the elevated command prompt, type active and press Enter. (See screenshot below)​
Step7.jpg

11. In the elevated command prompt, type format fs=ntfs and press Enter. (See screenshot below)​
NOTE: This may take a few moments to finish formatting the USB key.​
Step8.jpg

12. If AutoPlay opens a pop-up for the USB key, then just close it.
13. In the elevated command prompt, type assign and press Enter. (See screenshot below)​
NOTE: This will assign a new drive letter to the USB key. Make note of the new USB drive letter for step 19 below. For example, mine is now H.​
Step9.jpg

14. If AutoPlay opens a pop-up for the USB key, then just close it.​
NOTE: Make note of the new USB drive letter for step 18 below. For example, mine is now H.​
15. In the elevated command prompt, type exit and press Enter. (See screenshot below)​
NOTE: This will exit you from DiskPart from step 4.​
Step10.jpg

16. Insert your retail Vista installation DVD into the DVD drive.​
17. If AutoPlay opens a pop-up for the retail Vista installation DVD, then just close it.​
NOTE: Make note of what the drive letter is for the DVD drive that has the retail Vista installation DVD in for step 19 below. You can also open Computer (step 21) to see what the drive letter is to. (See right screenshot below)
18. In the elevated command prompt, type cd\ and press Enter. (See screenshot below)​
Step11.jpg

19. In the elevated command prompt, type the command below, and press Enter. (See screenshot below)​
WARNING: Subtitute the letter F with your actual DVD drive letter (step 17), and substitute H with your actual USB key drive letter (step 13).​
F:\boot\bootsect.exe /nt60 H:
Step12.jpg

20. When it finishes, close the elevated command prompt.​
21. Open the Start Menu, and right click on the Computer button and click on Open.​
22. Right click on the DVD drive (ex: F: ) that has the retail Vista installation DVD, and click on Open. (See screenshot below)​
Open.jpg

23. Highlight all of the contents, right click on the highlighted contents, and click on Copy. (See screenshot below)​
NOTE: You will need to copy all of the files and folders on the retail Vista installation DVD to the USB key.​
Copy.jpg

24. Go back to Computer, right click on the USB key drive (ex: H ), and click on Paste. (See screenshot below)​
Paste.jpg

25. The contents of the retail Vista installation DVD will now start copying over to the USB key.​
NOTE: This may take a few moments to complete.​
26. When finished, you can close the Computer window and unplug the USB key.​
27. You now have a Vista installation USB flash drive.​
warning   Warning
Before installing Vista from the USB key, you will need to:
warning   Warning

  • Enable Legacy USB storage detect in the BIOS
  • Temporarily set the USB FDD (USB Flash Disk Drive) to be listed right before the hard drive (or partition) that you will be installing Vista on in the hard drive Boot Priority order list in the BIOS.
  • After you are finished installing Vista from the USB key, make the Vista hard drive (or partition) listed first in the hard drive Boot Priority order list in the BIOS.

That's it,
Shawn


 
Last edited by a moderator:
Shawn Brink

Comments

how come when i select the volume then type in active, it tells me to please select a partition and try again? should it work the same way with a XP boot disk or it has to be vista?

here is a screen shot...
 
Hi UndeFinitiOn,

Yeah, it needs to be from Vista. Did you format the USB key from within Vista?
 
Ok,




Try typing these commands instead starting at step 11 in the tutorial. It will delete all partitions on the USB flash drive and create a new one.
  • diskpart
  • select volume 9
  • clean
  • create partition primary
  • select partition 1
  • active
  • format fs=fat32
  • assign (note that this changes the USB drive letter)
  • list volume (to see what the new USB drive letter is)
  • exit
Now continue on with the rest of the steps in the tutorial starting with step 20 to finish creating the Vista installation USB flash drive.


Hope this helps,
Shawn
 
Thanks, it formated the flash drive... but the thing is that XP does not have the boot folder... or the version of XP I have does not have the boot folder with the bootsect.exe file, i think ill just put vista on the usb drive... should be alot easier.... thanks for all ur help Shawn =D
 
Hi Shawn,

Another question. If the USB flash drive is of sufficient capacity, say 8GB, can you add another folder to it after you have followed the procedure in your Tutorial? I would like to create a folder called 'Vista Support', and I would keep this folder updated with the latest drivers so that when it comes to reinstallation, everything would be in one place. Could I also place RAID drivers in this folder (assuming that I can locate them) and use them during the initial installation of Vista if the necessary drivers aren't included with Vista itself. It would also be useful to have other programs on there as well, such as Adobe Reader and possibly Microsoft Office 2007 with SP1, together with other documents, information and files. Is this possible or not?
 
Hi Shawn,

Another question. If the USB flash drive is of sufficient capacity, say 8GB, can you add another folder to it after you have followed the procedure in your Tutorial? I would like to create a folder called 'Vista Support', and I would keep this folder updated with the latest drivers so that when it comes to reinstallation, everything would be in one place. Could I also place RAID drivers in this folder (assuming that I can locate them) and use them during the initial installation of Vista if the necessary drivers aren't included with Vista itself. It would also be useful to have other programs on there as well, such as Adobe Reader and possibly Microsoft Office 2007 with SP1, together with other documents, information and files. Is this possible or not?
Oh yes absolutely. Great idea, but you would still have to manually install them after Vista of course. :geek:

I will add a TIP box for this to the tutorial.
 
Superb Tutorial... and that fact that all the drivers can also be stored on the flash drive too will save a shed load of time on my next format... when i stop being lazy... lol

Edit: can you add a little piece on how to data write protect the USB key to prevent accidental formatting
 
You're welcome Ripbox.

I'm not sure about how to go about that so that the USB key will be write protected for any computer it is plugged into.
 
Unfortunately, it only prevents the computer you install it on unable to write to the USB drive and not write protect the USB drive itself. Plus, you can easily edit the registry for this without having to install a 3rd party program. :(

If you like I can create a tutorial on this, but without the USB drive itself being write protected, I do not see much need for it.
 
Np brink... i can always make some other backup... i only asked because sometimes i have my blonde moments and end up deleting things i had no intention of deleting
And i wasn't sure of how to protect data stored on a flash drive... no big ussue though
I'm in need of a larger USB stick so ill look for 1 with the protetion switch on :geek:

Edit: 1 more thing... Is there a way to embed your/my serial key into the USB stick so that i/we don't have to enter it on install?
 
There is a way using vLite with the Unattended button. I have not done this myself, so I'm not sure on how to do it. You might post this in the General Discussion forum to see if someone knows how for you.
 
thanx for your help
i get "the system can not find the path specified " after step 21
plz i need your help coz it is important to me to have this bootable usb flash

note my usb flash (8GB) come with u3 application preinstalled ...
also i formated the drive from windows vista home premium32 and second time using your reply cmd
for another user here ....

Code:
Microsoft Windows [Version 6.0.6001]
Copyright (c) 2006 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
C:\Windows\system32>diskpart
Microsoft DiskPart version 6.0.6001
Copyright (C) 1999-2007 Microsoft Corporation.
On computer: KOTEIBA-PC
DISKPART> list volume
Volume ### Ltr Label Fs Type Size Status Info
---------- --- ----------- ----- ---------- ------- --------- --------
Volume 0 D 11 CDFS DVD-ROM 4658 MB Healthy
Volume 1 C NTFS Partition 99 GB Healthy System
Volume 2 F New Volume NTFS Partition 29 GB Healthy
Volume 3 G NTFS Partition 29 GB Healthy
Volume 4 H New Volume NTFS Partition 29 GB Healthy
Volume 5 E FAT32 Removable 7666 MB Healthy
 
 
DISKPART> select volume 5
Volume 5 is the selected volume.
DISKPART> active
DiskPart marked the current partition as active.
DISKPART> exit
Leaving DiskPart...
C:\Windows\system32>cd\
C:\>D:\boot\bootsect.exe/nt60 E:
The system cannot find the path specified.
C:\>
 
update
i used a recovery dvd from hp which has windows vista home premium
and i guess it has no bootsect.exe on it :cry:
.... so any other idea about how to make it
bootable on my usb flash drive
thanx
 
Hello kfm, and welcome to Vista Forums.

Are you using a retail Vista installtion DVD?

Do you have more than one partition on the USB flash drive?

The reply link will change the drive letter again. Do the list volume command again to see if the USB flash drive letter is now different than the E: you have used in the command.
 
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