This has been covered in many places, but I am still surprised that not everyone knows how to do this.
First off: find yourself a large enough and fast enough USB stick to use as your bootable media. I prefer my OCZ Rally 2 myself – 8 GB and FAST. Remember – you get what you pay for – flash drive speeds vary greatly, choose yours wisely.
- Run DISKPART with admin rights
- Type in LIST DISK to list off all disks attached to your system. Make note of your disk# representing your USB stick
- Type SELECT DISK # where # represents YOUR USB STICK
- Type CLEAN to erase everything / every partition on the disk. Remember you validated what disk to clean in step 2, right?
- Type CREATE PARTITION PRIMARY to make your new primary partition
- Type ACTIVE to mark partition as active
- Type FORMAT FS=NTFS QUICK to perform a quick format
- Type EXIT to close diskpart – unless you want to make more bootable USB disks
Next up – extract the source files your favorite ISO file to the root of the USB stick. Windows 7, Server 2008 R2, Windows Server “8” or Windows “8” Consumer Preview. You can use whatever tool you prefer – I used to use WINRAR to open and expand them. Now I just mount the ISO in my Windows 8 Consumer preview by right clicking on it and choosing MOUNT. I can then select all files and SEND TO my newly formatted USB stick.
Voila – you now have a bootable USB stick. The only way for fast OS installs in a modern world.
I was going to record a quick screencast and YouTube it up – but then again – why? It’s so simple, this text should do.
** EDIT ** – based on @tommyLee’s suggestion – I’ve created a quick screencast on how do make one yourself.
You can get more elaborate and custom make the OS with injected drivers and all sorts of deployment goodness if you CREATE your own ISO with the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit. I’ll revisit the USB OS install post in a while when the tool refreshes with the next OS update.