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One of the ways you can install Windows 7 is by creating a bootable USB flash key drive, and then you load the operating system from that drive. It’ll then override whatever version of Windows you were using before, and have your computer up and running on the Windows 7 version instead.

It’s not quite as kind as the simplicity of Windows 10 that just gets installed without the need of a disk or a USB stick, but it’s easier than having to get it installed from a CD unless you buy Windows 7 already on a CD out of the box. There are also a lot of computers and laptops out there trying to install Windows 7 that don’t have disk drives, so the idea of installing it from a disk just won’t work.

There are some things you’ll need to note before starting:

  • You’ll need to have a USB stick that is at least 4GB in size. It doesn’t matter if it’s considerably larger than 4GB’s like many of them these days are, but you’ll need for it to be at last 4GB’s or else the operating system won’t fit.
  • The installation of the operating system needs to wipe anything that’s on there as well, so you’ll want to use a fresh one or make sure there isn’t any data on the existing one that you plan to use.
  • You need to have enabled the “Legacy USB storage detect” in the BIOS before you can install the Windows 7 operating system from the USB key drive. To do that, reboot the computer via Power menu > Restart and then tap the F key on your keyboard to get the BIOS up on the computer’s display. The specific F key you need to press varied between manufacturers, which is a bit annoying, but you should be able to find out that information from your manufacturer’s websites.
  • There are three different ways you can get Windows 7 up and running on a computer by using an installation key drive. They are the following: by using the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool, using Rufus, and by manually creating a Windows 7 Installation USB flash drive. We’ll run through all the options in the guide below.

Use Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool to Create Bootable Windows 7 Installation USB

Things to note before starting:

  • Anyone starting this guide using a version of the Windows XP operating system need to first install Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 and Microsoft Image Mastering API v2 before continuing on with this guide. Windows Vista users can just carry on with the normal installation.
  • You need to have a computer that is at least running on Windows XP SP2, Windows Vista, or Windows 7 (32-bit or 64-bit) to use the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool
  • You need a Pentium 233-megahertz (MHz) processor or faster (300MHz is recommended)
  • You need a hard drive that has at least 50MB’s of spare space.
  • DVD-R drive or 4GB removable USB drive

1. You’ll need to start by logging in to the computer you want to get Windows 7 installed on by using one of the accounts that have the administrative permissions assigned to it. The first user account created on the computer always has those admin rights and then that same account can choose to assign those same admin permissions to other user accounts as well. But if you just have a secondary user account and the original account hasn’t assigned you those administration rights then you won’t be able to install the tool from that account.

2. Download the Windows 7 Installation USB tool from the Microsoft website.

3. Wait for the file to finish downloading above the taskbar and then click on the center of it, so it opens up.

4. Click on the “Download” and then “Run” buttons.

5. Now just follow the on-screen instructions when you get the tool guiding you on what to do next from the dialog window.

6. You’ll need to have bought the Windows ISO download from the Microsoft Store and then downloaded that same ISO file to your drive. As long as you have paid for it, you can always open up your account in the Microsoft Store and download it again.

7. All that’s left to do is make a copy of the ISO file and then begin copying (if using USB) or begin burning (if using a DVD). You can read more on that from the Microsoft webpage.

Create Bootable Windows 7 Installation USB with Rufus

Not everyone knows the name “Rufus, ” but it is a viral tool to help people to get Windows 7 running on a computer. Many people prefer using Rufus because they feel it’s quicker and easier than the other ways. Everyone has their own personal preferences with things types of things, but if you are new to this kind of thing, then we do recommend giving Rufus a try to see how you go, in particular if you are trying this nearly 3/4 of the way through 2017 because some of the other methods can be hard to find the tools because Microsoft has taken them down, etc.

1. Download Rufus from the official Rufus website. You’ll end up with just an executable file. You want to save that executable file to the desktop.

2. Get your USB flash drive, make sure there is nothing on it, and then connect it to the computer in its port.

3. Minimize your web browser and then click on the Rufus executable file that’s on the desktop, so you are now running the tool. You might get prompted by User Account Control for security reasons; just always tap on the “Yes” button anytime you see it during this installation.

4. You’ll now see a set of drop-down menus available from the Rufus tool that you need to fill in. Do them with the following:

  • Click on the drop-down menu under “Device” and select the USB flash storage drive that you have connected to the computer.
  • Click on the drop-down menu under “Partition scheme and target system type” and select the “MBR partition scheme for BIOS or UEFI computers.”
  • Click on the “File System” drop-down menu and select “NTFS.”
  • Click on the “Cluster size” drop-down menu and select whatever option as the “Default” next to it in parentheses.
  • Click on the “New volume label” drop-down menu and give your installation a name or just leave it set on the default name if you prefer.
  • Lastly, you have a set of checkboxes. Leave the first one (Check device for bad blocks) unchecked and check the rest: Quick format, Create a bootable disk using (Iso image), Create extended label and icon files.

5. You’ll now be prompted by Rufus to let you know that all device data on (name of flash drive) will be destroyed, referring to any existing data that you had on it. Click on the “OK” button to continue.

6. Rufus then creates the bootable UEFI USB flash drive, and when it’s done, you can install it.

Create Bootable Windows 7 Installation USB Flash Drive Manually

  • Lots of people choose to use the manual method, but there are some things to consider before you do, including some drawbacks. They are the following:
  • You can only create a 64-bit version of the Windows 7 operating system bootable USB flash drive if your current version of Windows 7 is 64-bit. On the contrary, if you have a 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows 7 now, you are then able to create a 32-bit or 64-bit Windows 7 bootable USB flash drive.

This method makes use of a USB drive and a DVD. In other words, you’ll need a DVD and a DVD drive for this method to work on top of having the USB flash drive.

1. Get started by connecting the USB flash key into the computer in the available slot.

2. You might get prompted by an AutoPlay for the USB key; just close it if that happens.

3. Open an elevated Command Prompt window by clicking on Start menu > searching for “CMD” > right-clicking on the “Command prompt” link and then choosing to “Run as administrator” from the menu.

4. Type the “diskpart” command into the command line and then press the “Enter” key on your keyboard to execute the command.

5. Type “list disk” into the command line and then press the “Enter” key on your keyboard.

It’ll now show you the size of your disk and give your disk a number (e.g., disk 1, disk 1, etc.).

6. Type “select disk (your disk number)” replacing the (your disk number) for your real disk number without the parenthesis and then hitting the “Enter” key on your keyboard.

7. Type “clean” into the command line and then press the “Enter” key on your keyboard.

8. Type “create partition primary” into the command line and then press the “Enter” key on your keyboard.

9. Type “select partition 1” into the command line and then press the “Enter” key on your keyboard.

10. Type “active” into the command line and then press the “Enter” key on your keyboard.

11. Type “format fs=ntfs label=”Windows 7″ quick” if you have NTFS or “format fs=fat32 label=”Windows 7″ quick” if you have FAT32 and then press the “Enter” key on your keyboards.

AutoPlay might pop up on your computer’s display again; just close it and continue.

12. Type “assign” into the command line and press the “Enter” key on your keyboard.

You might see a prompt from AutoPlay here; just close it and continue.

13. Type “exit” into the command line and press the “Enter” key on your keyboard.

14. Close the elevated Command prompt window by clicking on the “X” located in the top right corner of the window.

15. Open the DVD drive and insert the Windows 7 installation DVD.

You might get prompted by AutoPlay when you insert the disk; if that happens just close it and continue.

16. Now navigate to the Start menu, right-click on the “Computer” and then select “Open” from the menu.

17. You should see the “DVD drive” and the “Removable disk” under the “Devices and Removable storage” heading. Right-click on the “DVD drive” and then select “Open” from the menu.

18. Copy everything you can see here by holding down the “Ctrl” key and clicking the mouse on each entry. Once they’ve all been copied, right-click the mouse and select “Copy” from the menu.

19. Now from the “Computer” window, right-click on the “Removable disk” and select the “Paste” option from the menu, so you have copied the contents of the disk and are now pasting it to the USB flash storage.

20. You’ll get a small window letting you know that the contents of the Windows 7 installation DVD is being copied over to the USB key. It’ll probably be a few gigs and could take a while. Just leave it and make sure nobody clicks on the “Cancel” button until it has completed.

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