Create a USB stick to install Windows 11 or Windows 10

Pen with Windows
Have a bootable USB stick when booting your computer to use for the installation of Windows saves time during installation or formatting and is especially important for those who have a notebook without a CD player. On laptops there is always the reset or factory reset function, but this forces you to keep the system starting which, often, is not the best choice.In the guide that follows we will show you how to create a bootable USB stick at boot, so that you can install Windows 10 or Windows 11, the most modern operating systems still supported by Microsoft, on any computer. For all the procedures that we will see in the guide, it is advisable to use a USB stick of at least 8 GB, without any files inside.

READ FIRST: How to download the ISO of each version of Windows

Index

Media Creation Tool

The quickest way to create a ready-to-use Windows USB stick is to use the Media Creation Toolavailable for Windows 10 or the same tool for Windows 11.
Media Creation Tool

After opening this program, insert the USB key in our possession, open the tool just downloaded, accept the user license and, in the window that opens, make sure to select Create installation media (USB flash drive, DVD or ISO file) for another PC.

On the next screen, make sure the item is checked Use the recommended options for this PC (we can also deselect it and choose which version of Windows to use), press at the bottom on Forwardwe check the item USB flash drivewe indicate the key inserted in the computer and start the operation.

The tool will download the Windows ISO independently and copy it to the USB key, which can be started on another PC changing the boot order.

Rufus

Alternatively we can create a bootable USB stick on boot using the program Rufusone of the best for creating bootable USB sticks starting from the Windows ISO image.
Rufus

As a first step we download the ISO image of Windows 10 or Windows 11 on our PC.

For the Windows 10 ISO we will have to download Media Creation Tool and choose as an option File ISO when creating the key; for Windows 11 we can download the ISO directly from the official website, taking us to the section Downloading the Windows 11 disk image (ISO)selecting the item in the drop-down menu, pressing on Download and following the instructions on the screen.

After downloading the ISO image file, insert the USB key into a free port on the computer, open the tool Rufuswe press the button SELECTselect the ISO image to save, make sure the key is selected in the field Device / unitwe choose MBR O UEFA in the field Partition schemewe give the disk a name in the field Volume label then we press down on Start to create the USB stick.

This program can also be used to create USB sticks with other operating systems (Linux or Chrome OS), as also seen in the guide to programs to burn ISO to USB.

Manual procedure via DOS

In case of problems with the automatic tools we can also follow the manual procedure for creating the installation USB stick for Windows 10 and Windows 11 via prompt. This procedure is reserved for experts who have a Windows installation DVD (and a burner connected to the PC), but it can be followed by anyone paying attention to all the steps shown.

To start we open the command prompt by right clicking on the Start menu and opening Terminale Windows (Admin); alternatively we type the command cmd within the Start menu, right-click on the prompt and choose Run as administrator.

Once you have started the command prompt you have to write the following commands, one by one, and for each press Enter to run:

  • DISKPART (hit enter)
  • LIST DISK (hit enter) (list disk, it will show the numbers of all disk drives connected to the PC)
  • SELECT DISK 1 (enter) (Replace “DISK 1 with the number shown for the USB drive, for example: If the USB stick is 4GB and disk 2 shows the size of 4000MB, type
  • SELECT DISK 1)
  • CLEAN (invio)
  • CREATE PARTITION PRIMARY (invio)
  • SELECT PARTITION 1 (invio)
  • ACTIVE (enter)
  • FORMAT FS = NTFS (enter) (The formatting process may take a few minutes, depending on the size of the USB drive)
  • ASSIGN (enter)
  • EXIT (invio)

We don’t close the command prompt because it’s not over yet. To identify the letters assigned to the USB stick and the DVD just open File Explorer and take us in This PC. Now let’s go back to the command prompt and write:

  • D: CD BOOT (where D: is the letter of the DVD) and press Enter.
  • BOOTSECT / NT60 F: (where F: is the USB) and press Enter; this is the command to make the USB stick bootable.
  • XCOPY D: \ *. * / S / E / FF: \ (Where D: is the DVD drive, and F: is the USB drive) and press Enter; this copies the files to the DVD inside the USB stick.

All we have to do is wait for the end of the copy to USB. This procedure will make the USB bootable if the USB drive is selected as the first boot option when you turn on the computer.

The DVD to be used for the procedure can be created on the fly even without a burner, mounting the ISO image via player virtualization programs.

Conclusions

Creating a USB stick to install Windows 11 and 10 is really very simple, being able to use both the tool provided directly by Microsoft (very practical and convenient) and the Rufus program, one of the best in its class. If we have an installation DVD we can copy it to the USB stick with the manual procedure, very advanced and reserved only for expert users.

To learn more we can read our guide on how to put Windows 10 or 11 on USB drive to use it in portable version.

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