Back in March, I wrote about creating a macOS installer to USB stick. But you may not know that it is entirely possible to do the same with Windows 10 (or any other current version of Windows).
Windows comes preinstalled on every PC, but there are times when the USB version becomes invaluable. The first is when you have problems installing operating system updates in the usual way (which happened to me last year). Second, if you make a living wiping and repairing used computers. Having the latest version of Windows with a USB port makes reinstalling your system absurdly easy.
Obviously Windows is not freeware, so along with the USB installer you will also need a valid legal license key. Obviously, we cannot help you with this. But an installer? No problems. Read on.
Create a Windows USB Stick installation
Before we begin, it’s worth noting that whichever version of Windows is installed on the USB stick will be the current version offered by Microsoft. This means that any subsequent fixes and updates will not be included as the USB stick obviously will not update automatically.
Therefore, after you have installed Windows using the USB method, you will need to check regularly if Windows is up to date. If so, you will have to uninstall the version from the flash drive and replace it with the new one. The whole process I’m going to describe doesn’t take long, so it doesn’t really matter.
Wipe your USB drive
Erase the USB Stick
The first step is to make sure the USB stick is completely empty. If you just bought it, it will already be empty. But if this is a used flash drive, it needs to be formatted. This will delete all content. The installer requires at least 8 GB of free space to build the installer correctly.
To format a USB flash drive, right-click it in Windows Explorer and select Format.
In the window that appears, click “Start” to begin the formatting process.
How long it takes depends on how you use the flash drive and how much data is already on it.
Download Microsoft’s Media Creation Tool
Download Media Creation Tool from Microsoft
Then go to the Microsoft website and download the “Media Creation Tool”. It is a portable application so no installation is required. Just download the file and double-click it to get started.
Select Installer Format
Choose your installer format
After scanning your computer to see what you need and asking you to pretend to read the Terms and Conditions, the installer will ask you what you want to do.
He saw that I hadn’t installed the latest patch yet, so he suggested it to me. But I want to make a USB installer, so I need the second option. You can also put Windows 10 on a DVD or ISO file and I will be discussing ISO files in my next article. As far as DVDs go, I find them impractical and expensive for something like this.
You will then be prompted to select your language, Windows version, and 32-bit or 64-bit Windows. It will put it in the â€œrecommended optionsâ€, but if you disagree with any of them, just uncheck the box and choose what you want.
But unless you have a compelling reason and don’t know what you’re doing, it’s best to stick with the recommended options.
Remember, do not select a version of Windows for which you do not have a valid license key!
Now confirm that you want the USB option and not the ISO file.
Click the USB drive you want to install it on. If you don’t see it in the list, click the Refresh Disk List link.
Be extremely careful when choosing the correct USB device. I almost chose my portable hard drive for backup, which would be a disaster.
Now sit down and wait
Now sit back and wait
Your installer will now start transferring to your USB stick. As shown on the progress screen, you can continue to use the computer while you wait. But my experience showed that when installing the installer the PC slowed down a bit.
It took about 15 minutes anyway.
What a USB drive looks like now
What does a USB stick look like now
Here’s what you’ll see when you click on the USB drive in Windows Explorer.
The only file you need is the “setup.exe” file. When you click on it, the Windows installation window will open, after which you will be prompted for a license key.