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Thread: Install Win 7 From Flash Drive

  1. #1
    clocker's Avatar Shovel Ready
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    Mar 2003
    I've been anticipating a semi-disruptive hardware change to Sprocket for a while now and Good Do Bee that I am, preparations have begun.

    I use my C: drive as OS only, all data is stored on separate (both internal and external) drives, so a wipe and reload is relatively painless- install OS and reload programs ( and not many of those).

    I have a fairly good collection of program/driver executables and Windows 7 has been amazingly capable installing it's own drivers during setup (it's rare not to be internet ready after a fresh install), so post-install is pretty much trivial as well.

    Many of my commonly used apps (like uTorrent and Chrome) are so frequently updated that I typically prefer to download the newest copies, but I do have backups if necessary.
    Speaking of Chrome, Google Chrome Backup is a handy free app that will backup and restore your Chrome install- favorites, themes, extensions, cookies, etc.- much like MozBackup does for Firefox.
    I make a fresh backup about once a week.
    After a fresh install, DL/install the newest Chrome and then run the backup tool, point it at your latest backup and let it do it's thing (about 15 sec. worth).
    Hark and voila!, it's just like it always was...logins, favorites, passwords, all saved.

    Microsoft has made a free tool available- get it here- that makes creating a bootable flash drive with Windows ridiculously simple (especially compared to the command line method of yore).

    You'll need to have an .ISO image of the OS copied to your harddrive, a flash drive (min. of 4GB) and the tool.
    Point the app at the image, tell it where the flash is and a few minutes later you have a bootable stick. Seriously, like three clicks.
    Technology, Fuck Yeah!

    Before using the new flash install, there are two more things to do.
    - Turn off the machine and unplug every storage device except the harddrive you'll be installing on. All optical drives and all other hard drives- unplugged.
    You want the options for the installer cut to the bone- only one place to look for data and one place to put it.

    - Go into BIOS and make sure you can set a USB device into the boot order.

    That's about it.

    Insert the flash drive, restart the PC and it will jump right into the install process.

    On a 30GB Vertex2 SSD, the entire install takes 10 minutes from start to desktop and the internet.
    (I did this six times, on two different SSDs, with the same results)
    I thought this was bloody excellent.

    Another handy post install tool (free) is Ninite.
    You choose from groups of apps (browsers, media and the like) and it bundles them into a single executable.
    Just go to the webpage and look, it's simple to grasp and use and will save some time.

    I spend so much time with XP machines that this sort of software use is a real luxury.
    "I am the one who knocks."- Heisenberg

  2. Software & Hardware   -   #2
    mjmacky's Avatar an alchemist?
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    May 2010
    day book
    Quote Originally Posted by clocker View Post
    On a 30GB Vertex2 SSD, the entire install takes 10 minutes from start to desktop and the internet.
    (I did this six times, on two different SSDs, with the same results)
    For comparison purposes, and I imagine you've installed this way as well, how long did it take to you to install and get to desktop using Win7 DVD onto an SSD?
    I can't remember how long it took to go from DVD Install to HD, but I'm guessing like 30 to 45 minutes.

  3. Software & Hardware   -   #3
    clocker's Avatar Shovel Ready
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    Mar 2003
    Given that I actually timed the six installs yesterday, I'd hate to sully the scientific integrity of my findings with mere guesswork.
    "Mission creep" has set in and to be relevant, I'd really need to execute another set of tests.

    Install to SSD from DVD.
    Install to a regular mechanical drive with both DVD and flash.

    Which kinda seems like work to me.

    IIRC, an install to the SSD from disk would take about 15 minutes, maybe a tad longer.
    So I'd estimate the flash install reduces the process by about 5 or 6 minutes, or 33%.
    If you've performed multiple Win7 installs, you'll be familiar with two points that seem to take a lot of time.
    The first comes right at the beginning as Windows "expands files"- it sits for quite a while on 0% before finally moving.
    The second comes after the reboot as Windows searches for and installs a video driver (you can tell because the screen goes black and returns with adjusted resolution).

    Both of these points go much more quickly with the flash drive...I assume because of the intensive disk seek required from an optical drive compared to the near instantaneous seek of the flash memory.

    No matter the time saving, a flash install is so easy I'd recommend it to anyone- if only for the fun of it.

    Also note the eerie silence during the process.
    With a solid state drive and no optical, there're no moving parts involved so all you'll hear are fans.
    "I am the one who knocks."- Heisenberg

  4. Software & Hardware   -   #4
    Thanks Clocker, this will come in handy if I ever open my Win 7 Home Premium family pack. I think I'll wait until SP2 or 3 or 4, what ever. Do you think it would also work with Vista since they are sort of cousins?

  5. Software & Hardware   -   #5
    clocker's Avatar Shovel Ready
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    Mar 2003
    It works on XP- assuming the pc's BIOS will allow booting from a USB device- so I assume it works for Vista (but I haven't tried).
    "I am the one who knocks."- Heisenberg

  6. Software & Hardware   -   #6
    Disme's Avatar I'm Belgian BT Rep: +7BT Rep +7
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    Dec 2006
    Thiscould come in very handy ... no more messing around with scratched-DVD's, and with the prices of flashdrives this is a piece of cake!
    Can you feel the LOVE

  7. Software & Hardware   -   #7
    Quote Originally Posted by nullifygirls View Post
    I want same working on windows XP.
    clocker said this works on XP some posts above.

    This is a pretty nice method, note Windows should take less time to install from a flashdrive, since USB speeds are higher and the seek time is near-zero when compared to an optical drive. Sadly my desktop PC is pretty old and doesn't support booting from USB devices. Well, it's not like I reinstall Windows regularly anyway.
    "Come visit sometime, okay? We'll always be here for you. We... we all love you."

  8. Software & Hardware   -   #8
    just go google and search Install Win 7 From Flash Drive tutorial it's better guide to u

  9. Software & Hardware   -   #9
    Nice post and topic but i have also search this topic.

  10. Software & Hardware   -   #10
    Artemis's Avatar ןɐɯɹou ǝq ʎɥʍ BT Rep: +3
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    Jun 2007
    I have installed Win7 using a flashdrive on netbooks as well as more than one laptop with a dicey optical drive, and as clocker says it is a far quicker process. Admittedly though I have only installed to mechanical drives not an SSD yet, but I have one flash drive preformatted and simply copy over the 32bit or 64bit version depending on which I am installing.


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