How to Create an XP Bootable USB Drive - Installing Windows from a USB Drive

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You may find yourself in a situation where you need to install an OS on a friend’s PC, but you don’t have a spare DVD to burn the installation ISO file. I will show you how you can install any OS using a USB drive by copying its image on to your USB stick. I would recommend that you carry out the task using Windows XP.

The things you’ll need for carrying out this task are:

1. A USB drive that has enough space to store the contents of the installation ISO file.

2. The ISO file.

3. An application that can read and extract files from the ISO file such as 7zip.

Preparing your USB Drive

To prepare your USB drive for installing the ISO contents, follow the steps below.

1. Back up the contents of your USB drive to a safe location.

2. Open the command prompt by typing cmd under Run in the Start Menu.

3. Type DISKPART in the prompt. Now type List Disk and identify the disk number of your USB drive from the information on screen.

4. If your USB drive is Disk X, type in the commands below in the sequence given below:

  • FORMAT FS=FAT (You will have to wait for the formatting to complete)
  • EXIT

Making the USB drive Bootable

Now that we have prepared and properly formatted the USB drive, we need to make it bootable. Follow the steps below to make it bootable.

1. Insert any bootable CD or DVD in your DVD drive.

2. Type in the following in a new command prompt. I have taken D to be your DVD drive letter.


3. Now note the drive letter of your USB drive and type the following.

  • BOOTSECT.EXE/NT60 J: (Where J is your USB drive letter)

If you see the message “Successfully Updated FAT filesystem Bootcode”, you have prepared your USB drive and made it bootable.

Copying the ISO contents

Now you need to extract the contents of the ISO file to a folder. Use 7zip to extract the ISO’s contents and make a note of the location of the folder. Copy all of the files that you have extracted onto the USB flash drive.

Now all you need to do is connect your USB flash drive and change the boot order in your BIOS to boot from the USB drive. You can now install the contents of the ISO using your USB drive. Please use the comments section if you have any problems installing your ISO via USB.