Do you want to install Windows 10 on a laptop with no DVD drive and save precious hours of your work schedule by skipping the sluggish DVD read/write speeds and proceeding with your installation through a blazing-fast USB flash drive?
In the contemporary times of speedy SSD storage devices and fast wireless Internet connection, laptop and desktop manufacturers depreciate the usage of CD/DVD drives as efficient portable devices.
Hence, USB drives such as flash drives, external HDD, and ISO disc images are highly preferred while installing any operating system on your computer.
This article will provide detailed instructions on How to Install Windows 10 from USB devices when your computer doesn’t have a CD Drive or an installation disc.
What are the Benefits of Installing Windows 10 Using a Bootable USB Drive?
There are numerous benefits when you install Windows 10 using a bootable USB drive, and learning about them is necessary for preferring such installation media in the future over other devices:
- There are several instances where installing a fresh copy of Windows 10 over the previous one becomes critical, especially in cases of a severe BSOD error, faulty system files, damaged or corrupted hard drive, or simply while upgrading or downgrading your PC.
- A proper Windows setup is possible only when you have the correct installation files. Disc images are conveniently available online, which is faster to copy directly to a USB flash drive rather than burning them to CD/DVDs.
- Some All-In-One Windows 10 ISO files require at least 8GB of storage space on a portable device to initiate Windows installation. In such cases, it is preferred to use a bootable USB drive, as a single DVD can store only 4 GB of data.
- USB drives are blazing fast and can complete the installation within 10 minutes, and numerous tools are available online that facilitate making a USB drive bootable.
How to Install Windows 10 From USB Flash Drive?
Since installing Windows 10 using a USB flash drive on your PC has some huge benefits, performing this action might still be troublesome for you if you don’t know the correct procedures for installing an operating system on your device.
The official Windows website has a manual for the Windows 10 installation using their Media Creation tool.
Still, they fail to complete the whole picture by exempting from using faster third-party tools and not including brief explanations before proceeding with the recommended options.
Therefore, this comprehensive article will show you how to install Windows 10 from USB Flash Drive through a series of step-by-step procedures and detailed descriptions. But first, let us know about the prerequisites for the entire process.
Windows 10 USB Installation Prerequisites:
- USB Flash Drive of at least 8GB capacity. The pen drive will be formatted fully, so ensure there isn’t anything important inside. (Because they will be deleted and wiped clean!)
- A Windows 10 ISO file (of any edition) (If you already have it, proceed to Step 2)
- Technician PC – A fully-functioning Windows 10 PC having an Internet connection where we will download Windows 10 disk images and create installation media using the USB flash drive.
- Destination PC – A PC where there isn’t any operating system installed. If any OS were previously installed, everything would be deleted!
Recommended System Requirements for running Windows 10 smoothly:
Ensure that your Destination PC meets the following hardware specifications chart before installing Windows 10 from USB. If your PC falls short in specific hardware categories, make sure to upgrade them from a PC technician or refrain from installing Windows 10:
- Processor: Intel 8th generation processors (Intel i3/i5/i7/i9-7x), Core M3-7xxx , Xeon E3-xxxx, and Xeon E5-xxxx processors, AMD 8th generation processors (A Series Ax-9xxx, E-Series Ex-9xxx, FX-9xxx) or ARM64 processors (Snapdragon SDM850 or later)
- RAM: 4 GB (for 32-bit architecture) / 16 GB (for 64-bit)
- HDD (less recommended): At least 512 GB for both 64-bit and 32-bit OS
- SSD/NVMe (faster boot time): At least 128 GB for both 64-bit and 32-bit OS
- Graphics Card: Any GPU that supports DirectX 9 or later.
- Display resolution: 800 x 600, a minimum diagonal display size for the primary display of 7-inches or larger
Step 1: Download Windows 10 ISO File On Your PC without using the Media Creation Tool
If you have everything from the Prerequisites section except for the Windows 10 ISO file, we will show you how to procure the image file from the official Microsoft site ethically.
Users who are well-versed with the Windows 10 website shall also be aware that there is no other way to download the Windows 10 ISO without using the Media Creation Tool using the “Download tool now” button.
On the contrary, the steps given below will provide you with an alternate route that skips the usage of the tool:
- Open Google Chrome on the Technician PC and head to the Microsoft Windows Download website.
- Click on the 3-dotted icon beside your Google profile image, expand the More tools category from the option list, and select Developer Tools . Alternatively, you can use the Ctrl + Shift + I shortcut keys to perform the same action.
- A new Developer Tools window opens at the right with lots of HTML codes written inside. Select the 3-dotted button beside the gear icon, expand the More tools section, and select Network conditions.
- Inside the new Network conditions menu, uncheck the “Use browser default” option beside User agent, expand the Custom… list, and select BlackBerry – BB10.
- This action spoofs your PC as a Blackberry BB10 device, and the Microsoft website will not show the tool download button since you are running a non-Windows device.
- Refresh the Microsoft website while keeping the Developer tools tab open, and this time you will notice a drop-down menu through which you can select the Windows 10 (multi-edition ISO) you want to download. Select the Confirm button to proceed.
- Select the Windows 10 product language from the drop-down menu and click on Confirm again.
- After the website validates your request, click on either 32-bit Download or 64-bit Download, depending on your CPU architecture.
- Chrome will start downloading the ISO file now, whose size may vary depending on your selected Windows edition.
Wait patiently until the download is completed, and you can proceed to the next step: flash the ISO file on your USB flash drive and make it bootable.
Step 2: Create Bootable USB Drive
If you have already procured the ISO file of Windows 10, then transferring it to a USB flash drive will be our immediate step. The flash drive must have at least 8GB of free space, and any critical files must be backed up beforehand.
Transferring the Windows installation system files to the USB drive and making it bootable from the bios is more complex than moving the ISO files directly.
Therefore, the task is performed by different software according to the instructions of three popular USB flashing software mentioned below:
Create Installation Media Using Microsoft Media Creation Tool
The Media Creation tool creates a bootable USB device after downloading an ISO file from the official Microsoft servers. It uses the latest GPT partition scheme, targets UEFI systems by default to make the USB bootable, and provides only the latest edition of Windows 10.
Therefore, there aren’t many customization options here, but at the end of the day, you have a genuine copy of Windows disc images free from malware and spyware.
- Even if you don’t have a Windows 10 installation image, you can use the official Media Creation Tool by Microsoft to download it and flash it to a USB drive automatically.
- Head to the Windows 10 Download Page on the Technician PC and click the Download Tool Now / Download Now button.
- Plug the USB Flash drive inside the PC port and ensure the device is formatted with the FAT32 file system.
- Double-click on the downloaded file from the Downloads folder to open the Media Creation Tool.
- On the first launch, the tool will initialize with a few settings.
- Click on Accept to conform with the License agreements before proceeding with the USB Flashing.
- After further processing, select the “Create installation media (USB flash drive, DVD, or ISO file) for another PC” option, and click on the Next button.
- If you want to change Windows editions or region language, uncheck the “Use the recommended options for this PC” option and make appropriate selections for Language, Edition, and Architecture. Click on Next to continue.
- Select the “USB Flash Drive” option and click on Next.
- Select your pen drive from the list of removable drives. If your USB device isn’t listed there, plug it in again and click “Refresh drive list.” After selection, click on Next to continue.
- The Windows 10 ISO file will now be downloaded automatically; a percentage indicates the download progress.
- After the download completes, the tool will start creating Windows 10 media, where your USB drive will be wiped clean and made bootable for any UEFI bios after copying the installation system files.
- After creating the Windows setup drive, the path to the bootable USB drive is listed below. Press the Finish button to complete the process and clean up any remaining setup files.
Create Windows Installation USB Drive using Rufus
Rufus is one of the best freeware utilities out there that helps format and create bootable USB flash drives from an ISO file that might be present beforehand or downloaded using the built-in ISO downloader.
Rufus is faster and smaller than most tools tested by us while creating a Windows installation media and provides a vast range of customization options according to the Destination PC.
Follow the steps given below to create a Windows 10 bootable USB drive using a pre-existing ISO or by downloading a new one:
- Head to the official Rufus website on the Technician PC and click on the first link under the Download section.
- After the download, plug the USB drive inside and launch the Rufus-x.xx.exe application from the Downloads folder.
- The destination USB drive will be listed under the Device category automatically.
- If you have already downloaded the image files from the previous section, click on the SELECT button, navigate to the folder where the ISO is stored, click on the file and select the Open button.
- If you don’t have the ISO file, click on the down arrow beside the SELECT button, mark the DOWNLOAD button and click on it again.
- When the download script runs, select the Windows 10 version on the Download ISO Image window and click on Continue.
- After a while, select your preferred Windows 10 Release version from the drop-down menu, and select Continue again. (The latest version is Windows 10 21H2)
- Press Continue again after selecting the Windows 10 Home/Pro/Edu Edition and the Regional Language.
- Select x64 (64-bit) or x86 (32-bit) architecture, and click the Download button to download the Windows setup ISO file. Select the download location and click on Save.
- The downloaded ISO will be automatically loaded in Rufus for flashing on the USB drive.
- Select the Standard Windows Installation under the Image option section.
- If your destination PC is purchased within 5 years, or if you have a UEFI bios system, select GPT under the Partition scheme section and UEFI (non-CSM) as the Target system.
- If the Destination PC is older or has a legacy bios and doesn’t support UEFI-based installations, select MBR from the Partition scheme menu and BIOS (or UEFI-CSM) as the Target system.
- Click on the START button to start flashing the ISO file onto the USB drive and make it bootable in the Destination PC according to the provided parameters. Select OK on the USB format warning.
- After deleting the existing USB files, creating the necessary file system, and copying ISO files for a few minutes, click the CLOSE button to exit the utility and plug out the USB drive safely.
Create Windows Installation USB Drive using WinToUSB
WinToUSB is another free software utility designed specifically for creating Windows installation media or making a version of Windows bootable directly from the pen drive without any installation.
Follow the steps given below to install the utility and create a new Windows setup on any USB drive:
- Head to the WinToUSB website on the Technician PC and click on the Download button for the latest free version.
- After the download, launch the setup and follow the on-screen instructions to install WinToUSB on your device.
- Go to the desktop and double-click the Hasleo WinToUSB icon to open the utility software.
- You can select a downloaded ISO file or use previous Windows 10 installation DVDs and flash them directly to the USB drive. You can also clone your current Windows 10 OS and transfer it to the USB drive. This guide will show you only the ISO flashing method as a demonstration.
- Click on the Tools button at the top-right corner and select the Windows Installation USB Creator button.
- Click the Explore button, navigate to the Windows 10 ISO file downloaded in the previous section, and click on Open to load it.
- When asked to Select the USB Device, click the down arrow and select your plugged-in USB drive.
- Click on the Yes button to continue formatting the pen drive.
- After the USB drive is wiped clean, the system partition and the boot partition will be displayed through a partition scheme. Click on OK to proceed with the recommended settings.
- The Win2USB tool will spend several minutes creating the Windows installation media until a “The operation completed successfully” dialog box appears. Click on OK to exit.
- Safely eject the USB drive and plug it out from the port.
Step 3: Reboot Into Bootable USB Drive After Changing Boot Order
Flashing the USB drive with the Windows setup and making it bootable completes only the initial steps required to install Windows 10 on the Destination PC.
For the installation to start successfully, you must instruct the new PC to boot from the USB flash drive instead of its HDD or SSD, and changing its default Boot Order is necessary.
Follow the steps below the boot into the Windows installation media and start the Windows setup.
- Head to the Destination PC and plug in the flash drive where the ISO image file was installed in the previous section.
- Power On the PC (if already turned off) or press Restart from the Start menu (if already running).
- When you turn on the power, keep spamming your keyboard’s F10 / F12 keys to bring up the boot selection menu. (Refer to your PC manufacturer for the correct keyboard settings key to bring up the boot selection menu)
- Highlight the UEFI USB device mentioned on the boot selection menu using the cursor keys on the keyboard and press Enter to select them.
- The system will reboot into the bootable USB drive and press any key to begin the Windows installation.
Step 4: Commence Windows Installation and Choose HDD / SSD Partition
With the boot order of your computer set to load the USB device first, you may begin installing Windows from the USB drive.
- After you boot into the USB drive, you will see the Windows 10 logo with a spinning icon below.
- You will be greeted with a Windows Setup window, where you can choose your Language, Time, and currency format and the Keyboard or input method from the corresponding drop-down menu. Click on Next to continue.
- Click on the Install Now button.
- The setup window will ask for a genuine Windows 10 product key which you can type in the box as shown above. If you don’t have it right now, select the “I don’t have a product key” option to activate Windows 10 later.
- Choose the Windows 10 edition you wish to install in your system and click on Next.
- Click on the “I accept the license terms” checkbox to confirm reading and click Next.
- If your PC had a Windows OS installed previously, you would notice 2 types of installation: Upgrade and Custom. Choose the Custom installation type for installing a fresh copy of Windows 10 from USB.
- You will now see the partition scheme of your HDD or SSD that is already existing. If there is no partition table present, click on the New button.
- Select the disk size you wish to allocate within a single partition, and click Apply to confirm and successfully create the partition.
- Select the partition where you wish to install the Windows 10 system files, and click on the Next button.
- The Windows setup will automatically format the partition and start the installation procedure.
Step 5: Wait For Windows 10 Installation to Complete And Set Up Your New Operating System
- After you are done with creating a partition table and selecting it as your primary drive where the system files are stored, all you have to do is lie back and grab a cup of coffee while the setup goes through the following steps:
- Copying Windows files: Transfer system files from the flash drive to the system partition.
- Getting files ready for installation: Decompressing the installation files.
- Installing features: Installing additional files.
- Installing updates: Updating the installed Windows files.
- Finishing up: Deleting any excess Windows installation files.
- When the setup is finished, Windows will restart a few times automatically. Make sure to plug out the pen drive once the computer restarts.
- When the new Windows installation boots up for the first time, you will be asked for your region location. Select the region and click on Yes.
- Windows will ask for an Internet connection and instruct you to sign in to Microsoft with an email address, phone number, or Skype ID. Click on Create Account if you don’t have a Microsoft account.
- Afterward, follow the on-screen instructions to set up additional Windows 10 account settings.
- Wait for a few minutes after the above screen appears, and you will be redirected to your Windows 10 desktop screen.