How do I create a bootable flash drive for installing Windows?

To install Windows 10 Education Edition from IUware, or if you have a Windows 8.x or 7 installation disk but do not have an optical (CD/DVD) drive on your computer, you can use a Windows or Mac OS X computer to create a bootable flash drive to use in the installation.

As part of the process, you'll need to obtain a Windows .iso file, which contains all the files needed to install Windows, and then use special software to write it to a USB drive and make it bootable. You cannot simply copy this file to a USB drive, but must use the software to write it properly.

On a Windows computer, you can use either a tool from Microsoft, or the Rufus software; using the Microsoft tool is generally simpler, while Rufus has some additional features.

Warning:
The process described in the following steps will delete any data currently on the flash drive. Before continuing, be sure to back up your flash drive's data by copying them to another flash drive, your computer, or an external hard drive.

On this page:


What you'll need

  • A flash drive with at least 4 GB of space
  • A valid product key that came with your Windows software. For Windows 10, this will be available on IUWare. For Windows 8.x or 7, this will be on the disc you purchased from IU.
  • On a Windows computer, you will need to have administrator privileges.

Insert your flash drive before beginning.

Creating a bootable installation flash drive for Windows 10 Education Edition

These instructions use a more updated and secure version of Windows 10 Education than that available on IUware; however, you will still need to visit IUware to get the product key.

  1. Go to Windows 10 Education on IUware and select either the 32-bit or 64-bit version. Review and accept the terms, and then click Get product key. Copy the product key to use later.
  2. Download and run the Academic Media Creation Tool. Accept the license terms. Enter the product key, and then click Next.
  3. To have the Microsoft tool create your bootable flash drive, make sure your flash drive is plugged in, select USB flash drive, and click Next.

    To use Rufus, select ISO file and click Next. This will save the .iso file to your computer; follow the directions at Using Rufus to write an .iso file to write this file to your flash drive.

Creating a bootable installation flash drive for Windows 8.1

Note:
Because Windows 8 is no longer supported, you must create a Windows 8.1 bootable flash drive and upgrade to Windows 8.1.
  1. Go to Microsoft's Upgrade Windows with only a product key site.
  2. Download and run the Install Windows 8.1 tool. Accept the license terms. Enter the Windows 8.x product key from your disc, and then click Next.
  3. To have the Microsoft tool create your bootable flash drive, make sure your flash drive is plugged in, select USB flash drive, and click Next.

    To use Rufus, select ISO file and click Next. This will save the .iso file to your computer; follow the directions at Using Rufus to write an .iso file to write this file to your flash drive.

Creating a bootable installation flash drive for Windows 7

You can no longer download legal .iso files for Windows 7 Ultimate. You have two options for creating a bootable installation flash drive:

  • UITS will create a bootable installation flash drive for you at the IUB or IUPUI Support Center walk-in locations; bring a blank flash drive with at least 4 GB of storage.
  • If you are unable to visit a walk-in location or would prefer to work with the .iso file yourself, you can create the Windows 7 .iso file from your Windows 7 Ultimate disc using a program called ImgBurn and then create the bootable flash drive with either the Windows USB/DVD tool or Rufus.

To create the Windows 7 Ultimate .iso file from your Windows 7 Ultimate disc:

  1. Download and install ImgBurn via Ninite. UITS does not recommend downloading directly from the ImgBurn site for security reasons.
  2. Follow the instructions at How-To Geek's How to Create a Windows ISO from a Disc Using ImgBurn.

You can now use the .iso file to create a Windows 7 Ultimate bootable installation flash drive using either a Windows tool or Rufus. To use the Windows tool:

Note:
This method formats the flash drive using the NTFS file system, which is incompatible with UEFI (secure boot).
  1. Download and install the Windows USB/DVD Download tool.
  2. Open the Windows USB/DVD Download tool.
  3. When prompted, browse to your .iso file, select it, and click Next.
  4. When asked to select the media type for your backup, make sure your flash drive is plugged in, and then choose USB device.

    You may be prompted to insert the USB device even if the flash drive is already inserted. Ignore this, and choose the USB device you'll be writing to.

  5. Click Begin Copying. If prompted, confirm that you wish to erase the flash disk.
  6. The .iso files will start copying to the flash drive (the process can take several minutes). When finished, close the wizard and eject and remove the flash drive.

To use Rufus to create the bootable drive, follow the directions at Using Rufus to write an .iso file to write this file to your flash drive.

Using Rufus to write an .iso file

  1. Download Rufus. Rufus is a standalone program and does not require installation.
  2. Open the Rufus program from where you downloaded it to run it.
  3. Select Create a bootable disk using and choose ISO Image from the drop-down menu. Click the disc icon and browse to your Windows .iso file and select it.
  4. To ensure the flash drive is compatible with UEFI, select FAT32 for "File System".
  5. To create the flash drive with the "Press any key to boot from USB" prompt, select the Create extended label and icon files option.
  6. When you are done selecting options, click Start When prompted, confirm that you want to erase the flash disk.
  7. The .iso files will start copying to the flash drive (the process can take several minutes). When Rufus is done, close the program and eject and remove the flash drive.

Creating a bootable installation flash drive on an OS X computer

Note:
In OS X, the option to create a Windows flash drive appears only when the computer does not have an optical drive. If your Mac has an optical drive, the option will be either missing or grayed out.
  1. From the Finder, open the Applications folder, and then Utilities.
  2. Open the Boot Camp Assistant, and then click Continue. The next screen should give you a list of options.
  3. UITS recommends making the USB drive installer first. You don't need to install Windows or download the support software at this time, as it will be easier to do both later. To proceed:
    1. Verify that the USB drive you will be writing to is plugged in.
    2. Uncheck the Install Windows 7 or later version and Download the latest Windows support software from Apple options.
    3. Check Create a Windows 7 or later install disk and click Continue.
  4. Your USB drive should be listed in the "Destination disk" area. Use choose to browse to your .iso file; after selecting it, click Continue.
  5. If prompted, confirm your action and/or provide an administrator's password. The process of writing the .iso file to the USB drive can take 20 minutes or longer.

Other resources

This is document bciz in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2016-04-29.

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