How to install Windows 8 from a USB drive

by Parm Mann on 1 June 2012, 15:02

Tags: Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Windows 8

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Editor's note: the below guide was first published in September 2011. An updated guide - How to clean install Windows 10 from a USB drive - is now available at the following URL:

For many enthusiasts there's nothing quite like getting your hands on a shiny new release of Microsoft's Windows operating system. And that's precisely why the web is buzzing with all things Microsoft, as the software giant has made available a Release Preview of its next flagship OS, Windows 8.

The Release Preview is the final pre-release version of Windows 8 and is free to try, but if you want to put it through its paces without donating a blank DVD, here's a brief guide on how to easily install Windows 8 from a USB pen drive.

Here's what you need: a USB pen drive (4GB or greater in size), the Windows 8 Consumer Preview disk image file (64-bit download here, 32-bit download here), Microsoft's Windows 7 USB tool (download here) and a working PC.

Once you have all those, follow these steps:

1. Install and run Microsoft's Windows 7 USB tool. In the subsequent window (pictured below), browse to the 32-bit or 64-bit Windows 8 disk image file you've already downloaded and hit next.

2. With your USB stick plugged in (remember, it'll need to be at least 4GB in size for a 64-bit install), choose USB device as your media type.

3. Select the correct removable device from the drop-down menu, then click begin copying.

4. Sit back, relax, and make a cuppa while the USB tool formats your pen drive, makes it bootable, and copies over all of the Windows 8 files.

5. Once the process is complete, the USB drive can be used to boot a PC and run the Windows 8 setup process.

That's all there is to it. You'll save yourself a blank DVD, the Windows 8 setup process should be quicker from flash-based media, and it's of course a must on netbooks or laptops without an optical drive.

Already running the Windows 8 preview? Share your thoughts and experiences in our dedicated Windows forum.

HEXUS Forums :: 37 Comments

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I'll be trying this later, wish the works connection was faster, 2 and a half hours left@455kb/sec lol
Is there a way to install this to work alongside Windows 7? Only got my main PC and MBP so it's gonna have to go on my PC with Windows 7…
I use Oracle Virtual Box..
Trig;2123287']I use Oracle Virtual Box..

Is that easy to use? I've never played with that sort of thing before.
(I use Oracle Virtual Box..) Is that easy to use? I've never played with that sort of thing before.
Yes, it's dead simple - I use it for development work. Actually "misuse“ is probably more appropriate, since I just checked and I've got 25 VM's defined in my instance (currently running 4, including a Windows XP Pro VM). Great option for me because if I've got a task that needs a lot of cpu, then I can lift-n-shift that VM from my dev box (dual core laptop running 64bit Ubuntu) to my gaming box (hexcore tower running Windows7Pro/64).

I ran the Windows7 RC in a VM because I didn't have any spare hardware - and it's definitely a good way to do things. This time I actually do have a ex-VistaBasic Acer laptop that's ”surplus to requirements", so I can try a ‘real’ install. I might still try a VM though - just to compare with the performance of the Win7RC when it was installed.

VirtualBox is also definitely the way to go if you want to try Linux - especially if you're not sure about which distro, because you can just create a couple of VM's and try a few. My gaming box has the official Microsoft VM installed (for the XP mode) but I'm not that impressed with it.