I recently built a new computer among its component list are items like 32 Gigabytes of Ram and an 8 core 4.4 GHz Processor. While those components are talking points the thing that has caught the most attention is the lack of any optical drive.
So why does such a high spec machine come wihtout any type of optical drive? In these modern times I consider that akin to asking “why no floppy disk”. With the large capacity of modern USB keys and external hard disk drives, there is little use for CDs or DVDs. Combine that with the ability to add and remove content at will, transportability and durability, and you may wonder how we ever used optical discs.
Ah yes, I hear you say, but how does a USB replace my Windows install disk or ISO file? This question has a very simple answer: Bootable USB. A bootable USB is not something you have to go out and buy, any USB can be made bootable with a few simple commands.
- Open an Administrators command prompt:
- Press the Windows key
- Type cmd
- Hold shift and control and press enter or right click and select run as admin
In your console type the following commands:
DISKPART >LIST DISK
This command will display a list of all drives connected to the machine.
DISKPART >SELECT DISK [NUMBER]
Enter the disk number of your USB from the list.
Deletes all partitions on the selected drive.
DISKPART >CREATE PARTITION PRIMARY
Creates a new partition using all available space.
DISKPART >SELECT PARTITION 1
By default the first partition is 1 unlike disks where the first one is 0.
DISKPART >FORMAT FS=NTFS QUICK
Format the new partition, Fat32 could be used instead of NTFS.
If you forget to add ‘quick’ to the end of the command depending on the size of the USB you could be in for a long wait.
DISKPART >ASSIGN LETTER=Y
The system will automatically assign a drive letter.
You could use the list volume command to view this or assign the letter of your choice as I have done here.
Exit the diskpart tool back to the cmd shell.
C:\Users\Administrator>bootsect /nt60 y:
Copies the boot files to the USB drive
Congratulations you are now the proud owner of a bootable USB.
What now? The next step is to copy the files over from our CD/DVD/ISO. For a CD or DVD this is a simple copy and paste. However if you’re working from an ISO there are a couple of things you might need to know, Windows 8 will allow you to mount an ISO as a virtual DVD drive with a simple double click.
For a Windows 7 machine there are a lot of third party applications that will allow you to have the same functionality or alternatively you can just extract the ISO onto the drive using 7zip.
The beauty of your bootable USB is that it remains bootable until you reformat it. This means that you can copy the contents from your Windows 8 install DVD to your USB and use it to install a number of machines. When the occasion arises that you need to do an install of another operating system, you simply delete the contents of the USB and copy the contents of your other DVD/ISO to the USB drive. Once that’s done your ready to go again but with a different Operating system.
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