Install Any Operating System from Pen Drive (Works on Netbooks)

Install Windows and Linux from USB Device With 2GB and 4GB pen drives becoming common these days it often makes more sense to burn (or rather setup) the Operating System installer onto a pen drive rather than burning it onto a CD or DVD. This is especially true if you love trying out new linux distros, or rush to install the latest leaked build of Windows 7. Not only that many notebooks such as Acer Aspire One doesn’t come with a built in CD/DVD drive and USB drives are the only way users can install the latest build of Windows 7 or Ubuntu (or whatever operating system they wish to use).

This tutorial will teach you how to install any (well…almost) operating system from a USB drive.

Arrow Windows 2000 and XP

For creating a bootable USB drive with Windows 2000 or XP installer we are going to use a utility called WinSetupFromUSB. Download it from MSFN forums and install it. You are going to need the Windows 2000/XP installation disk. If you have an ISO, extract the iso. Enter the path to Windows 200/XP installer as Source. After this, plugin in your USB device and format it. You can use the PEtoUSB tool to format USB drives smaller than 2GB as FAT16 drive. However I would recommend using HP Format Tool to format drives as FAT32 or NTFS (recommended). That is all you need to do to create a basic installer for Windows 2000 and Windows XP on your pen drive (USB device). Don’t bother yourself with any of the other settings. Click on GO to begin the process. WinSetupFromUSB is a fairly advanced tool and allows to you create multiboot pen drives that can have Windows Vista, Windows 7 and even Linux installers. If you want to know more about this utility just read through the thread at MSFN forums.


Arrow Windows Vista and Windows 7

The procedure described below is slightly cumbersome.
For a completely automated method use Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool

First we need to copy the bootsector from the Windows Installation DVD to the USB drive. But before that we need to format the USB drive and prepare it.

Bullet Start Command Prompt by typing CMD in the start menu and hitting Ctrl+ Shift+ Enter (for Windows XP and older OS simply type CMD in the RUN prompt and hit Enter).
Bullet Type DISKPART
Bullet Type LIST DISK
Note down the disk number (###) of your USB drive.
Bullet Type SELECT DISK # (replace # with the disk number e.g. SELECT DISK 1).
Bullet Type CLEAN
Bullet Type ACTIVE
Bullet Type ASSIGN
Bullet Type EXIT

Now we will copy the bootsector from the original disk. If you have an image you will need to mount it using a tool like Slysoft Virtual Clone Drive. Now I am assuming that the drive letter for the installer disc is X. You need to open up CMD one again.
Bullet Type X:
Bullet Type CD BOOT
Bullet Type BOOTSECT.EXE/NT60 Y:
where Y is the USB drive letter.

Now that the DVD is setup all you need to do is copy the contents of the DVD to the USB Drive (or extract the ISO file).

[Via IntoWindows]

Arrow LINUX (Ubuntu and almost all other popular distros including BSD variants)

Installing almost any version of Linux from a pen drive(USB device) is ridiculously simple thanks to UNetbootin (Universal Netboot Installer). All you need is a bootable image and a pen drive. Start UNetbootin, point to the location of the cd/dvd image and set the USB drive letter. UNetbootin will do the rest. If you don’t have an iso file handy I would suggest that you create one using your favourite disk burning tool (such as Nero). Although there are other solutions they are slightly complicated and creating an iso is the simpler solution. You can find the full list of supported Distros over here.


Now that you have your USB device ready, restart your computer and enter the BIOS by pressing the appropriate key. Change the boot order and set USB Device at #1 (highest priority). Save and exit. Your system should load from the USB device (pen drive) and launch the OS installer.


21 Responses to Install Any Operating System from Pen Drive (Works on Netbooks)

  1. Attorney Optimization June 1, 2009 at 3:03 pm #

    I am facing problem by downloading the 98 drivers from the amitte site.It does not work yaaar, please solve my problem………

  2. Underfloor Heating June 1, 2009 at 10:33 pm #

    If i used my pendrive on a computer known to be infected with viruses, and then format/ quick format it using right-click menu before using it on my system, is that good enough? I have ‘auto-play’ turned off for drives. I am worried as i have to use the pendrive often, as my cd drive not working presently. Can viruses spread merely on attaching the pendrive? And is repetitive formatting of pendrive advisable?

  3. Atul June 2, 2009 at 12:55 pm #

    great post

    Atul’s last blog post..Murphy’s Laws on Girls

  4. Pallab June 8, 2009 at 7:59 pm #

    In case autoplay is completely turned off, formatting a pen drive before accessing it should be good enough.

  5. keshav February 17, 2010 at 6:58 am # prev os is on c drive.and when im trying to install using usb my c drive is not getting i reinstalled on the same drive.but after installation is completed prev files are not getting deleted..can any one help???

    • Pallab De February 28, 2010 at 9:50 am #

      Sounds like you messed up. If you reinstall your OS on the same partition without formatting first, then you would end up with 2 installations on the same partition. Both the OS would co-exist. I would reccomend formatting the partition and doing a clean re-installation of the OS.

  6. vani September 24, 2010 at 1:22 pm #

    i’don’t have a cd writer in my pc, i want to install linux os from usb pen drive… it’s possible?

  7. Jaydee September 26, 2010 at 6:57 am #

    I haven’t tried it.
    Seems good to backup and recover from a faulty operating system. I like ubuntu live cd but usb drive is cooler. :)

  8. Tragaperras October 22, 2010 at 10:54 pm #

    Breaking news today, I just read that Apple revealed today OS X 10.7 . The Lion as it is called seems to have some great new features. I am amazed! It is scheduled to ship next summer.

  9. anand April 4, 2011 at 1:53 pm #

    List Disk is not working with my pendrive.. i have tried that in many computers. please help bro…. Mu CD/DVD rive has gone bad and i cant format my computer…. please help..

  10. UVESH August 27, 2011 at 11:12 pm #


  11. sunilkumar December 29, 2011 at 4:43 pm #

    thankyou its working

  12. Augustin Mgendi January 25, 2012 at 8:00 pm #

    Hi, thanks to this website for creating such a useful tutorials just to help IT developments in worldwide. Big up to all ya

  13. Sachin March 3, 2012 at 7:39 pm #

    after typing LIST DISK USB drive was not shown please help me out

    • aidster March 11, 2012 at 7:36 am #

      Fool u dont type LIST DISK USB just list disk i no it complicated to just copy exactly wat it says above but please if u get stuck again shot urself
      and do the rest of the world a favour

      • anonymous September 28, 2012 at 11:49 am #

        Good spelling, thanks for a positive input…

  14. NAVEEN May 25, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    I want install the win xp in my pen drive is this possible

    rewart me fast

  15. moringa leaf powder August 1, 2012 at 11:04 am #

    This is my first time pay a visit at here and i am genuinely
    pleassant to read all at single place.

  16. purchase settlements August 2, 2012 at 3:47 am #

    Thanks for the info. This has been really helpful.

  17. RAMAKRISHNA January 2, 2013 at 9:53 pm #

    hi bro when finalise setting it will take restart and then it start from first onwards how to recover these files
    help bro


  1. installing xp on notebook - July 10, 2010

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