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Published on 09.15.08 by Brent Trahan

Create a Bootable USB Drive to Install Windows Vista

How-to create a USB drive you can install Windows Vista from.

Create a Bootable Windows Vista USB Drive

Get your hands on a USB drive that’s at least 3GB in size. You’ll also need a Windows Vista installation disk.

Format the USB Drive

  1. Insert the USB drive into your computer.
  2. Right-click Computer in the Start menu and then select Manage.
  3. Select Disk Management under Storage in the left column of the Computer Management window.

  4. Right-click the USB drive in the bottom center section of the Computer Management window and select Format. Warning: Make sure you select the right disk to format. Formatting a disk will erase all data on it.
  5. Change the file system to NTFS and then click OK to format the USB drive.

  6. Wait for the USB drive to be formatted. The formatting progress will be shown in the Computer Management window.

Set the USB Drive’s Volume to Active

  1. Open the command prompt with administrative privileges by going to Start, All Programs, Accessories, and the right-click Command Prompt and select Run as administrator.
  2. Type diskpart in the command prompt and then press enter on your keyboard.

  3. Type list volume and the press enter.

  4. Find the USB drive in the list of volumes. In this example Volume 3 is the USB disk I’m using. Select the volume by typing select volume X (with X being the volume number of the appropriate USB drive) and then press enter.

  5. Set the volume as active by typing active and then press enter.

  6. Type exit and then press enter.

Create a Boot Sector on the USB Drive

  1. You’ll need a utility called bootsect.exe which can be found in any Windows Vista DVD in the boot folder. Copy bootsect.exe from a Windows Vista installation disk and past it in the C:\Windows\System32 directory in your computer.
  2. Once you copied bootsect.exe from a Vista installation disk to the System32 folder on your computer, type bootsect /nt60 X: (where X is the drive letter of the USB drive) and then press enter.

Copy Windows Vista Installation Files

  1. Insert a Windows Vista installation DVD.
  2. Open Computer from the Start Menu.
  3. Right-click the DVD drive the Vista install DVD is in and select Explore.
  4. Copy all of the files from the Vista installation DVD and past them in the USB drive.

Now you can install Windows Vista from a USB drive!

Still need help? Ask your computer question now.

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17 Responses to “Create a Bootable USB Drive to Install Windows Vista”

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  1. mike says:

    Thx for the guide. The setup fails saying i have corrupted installation files. Any suggestions?

  2. Ze'ev Russak says:

    Works like a charm, Thank!

  3. Neil says:

    The setup fails for me when i type ‘active’ saying no partition selected which i have done so using the above method. could the reason why its not doing this be that under type in the table it is named ‘removable’ and not ‘Partition’

  4. Maxii says:

    Works fantasicly, thanks XD

  5. Iced says:

    Thx! Worked like a charm!

  6. Jawad says:

    Thank You but i have a question.
    my question is what if we have windows xp installed and want to create vista bootable disk. Then what command should we folllow??
    bootsect /nt60 OR bootsect /nt52

    Please rep

  7. lucus says:

    hey, there is a utility, bootsect.exe, in the DVD but when i double click it it opens and close promptly. help

  8. Noseve says:

    Alternative to copying bootsect is simply to make the current directory the \boot drive of the Vista disk (I used an upgrade Vista DVD) and run the bootsect command from there. Always better to avoid cluttering up the System32 folder whenever possible.

  9. Noseve says:

    err.. sorry, instead of ‘\boot drive’, I of course meant ‘\boot folder’

  10. heine says:

    at last, where shall I type : bootsect /nt60 ?

  11. Jason says:

    will this works on Windows XP installation disk and Windows 7? in other words if I use this steps will it works on XP/7 installers?

    Please reply….

  12. W. Spiess says:

    Hi, Windows 7 Users. Have a preinstalled Windows 7 System. As I have a External USB HD, I would like to get it booting for additional backup. NTFS Formatted an ready to get the boot information on it. Since Vista is out there are no ways to get a bootable HD. Read a lot about bootable DVDs, but I need a bootable Windows 7 HD. Is there a way to get some help.

    Thanks and Regards

  13. syama says:

    Here’s an easier way to make a bootable USB to install Windows Vista.
    It automates everything.

  14. W. Spiess says:

    Thanks for the advice to get Vista (Win7) bootable.
    As I have a ?OEM Version? on a new computer, I am unable to create a bootable HD. Is there a way to get this boot information out of the pree-installed version?

    Acronis Support mentioned that Win7 is not bootable from external devices, is this true?

    How do I get a boot section on a existing on a HD?
    Tried to set the HD as active, but pos. only works if a boot section is added to the HD.

    Thanks for any help

  15. KatMc says:

    Hi, I keep typing the bootsect/nt60 and the drive, but all i get is ‘bootsect’ is not recognised as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file!


  16. leah says:

    In my file system options during format i only have the file option of FAT and FAT32

    what the hell?

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