If you’re often searching for ways to optimize your tech methods, creating USB installation media is a good place to start. Leave those CD wallets behind and utilize a few USB flash drives, something you can carry around easier and something that will speed up those installations as well. The requirements are few, and it won’t take long at all to create a bootable Windows 7 USB drive. With one extra step, you can make it a universal Windows 7 installation tool.
- 1. 4GB(or more) USB Drive
- 2. Windows 7 ISO
- 3. WinUSB Maker (Developed by Josh Cell Softwares)
- 4. 5 – 10 minutes – mostly automated file copying
Yes, there is an official Microsoft Windows 7 USB DVD Tool, but it apparently does not work with all USB drives, whereas I have yet to see WinUSB fail to successfully create a bootable Windows 7 USB drive. Also, WinUSB Maker is freeware, and has a few other handy functions not related to this topic, so it’s definitely worth getting even if you’ve already got the Windows USB tool. There are other methods of creating a Windows 7 USB drive, some of which require a lot of typing in the command line interface, but if you can do it automatically, and faster, with a free tool, why not use it? Go ahead and run the program, and you’ll see what I mean.
1. Select the USB device.
2. Choose Setup to USB.
3. Select “I want to work with an ISO,” and select your Windows 7 ISO.
4. Select “Make USB Bootable,” and affirm the prompt to begin creation.
5. Wait 5 to 10 minutes, and it should be done.
That’s all there is to it. If you want to create a universal bootable Windows 7 USB drive, there’s one final step. There has been some controversy regarding whether or not performing this step is within the bounds of the Microsoft EULA, but as there is official Microsoft documentation detailing modifying installation media files, including the file in question, thus leading many to the conclusion this modification falls within actions allowed by the EULA.
Navigate to the ‘sources’ directory on the USB drive you just used, and delete the file ei.cfg. This allows you to choose which edition of Windows 7 you want to install when you use the USB to install Windows. It goes without saying that you’ll only be able to activate Windows 7 versions for your clients if they have legal license keys for them. Also, as you probably know already, you’ll need a drive for 32 bit versions and a drive for 64 bit versions; you won’t be able to install a 64 bit OS from a 32 bit ISO.
As Benjamin Franklin once said, ‘Time is money’, and those of us in the Tech sector realize the importance of optimizing our operating procedures, streamlining our processes, and minimizing time spent performing manual tasks. USB installation media is just one step in the direction of optimization, but every step counts.
Do you have a utility you’ve found useful for bootable USB drives? Leave a comment!