Home > My tips and tricks, Software > Installing Windows Vista – Server 2008 R2 off of a flash drive

Installing Windows Vista – Server 2008 R2 off of a flash drive


During the course of last week, I had the task of installing Windows Server 2008 onto a server. Normally it’s easy enough to use the DVD and off you go, but this tale has a twist in it: the “DVD” drive in the server was actually a plain old CD-ROM drive, nothing more. While at first I thought it was simply struggling to read the Server DVD, later tests showed that it wouldn’t read any DVD at all, but would read CD’s fine. Go figure.

Investigating other methods to install Server revealed that I could use a USB flash drive to install the software, provided the server supports booting off of USB based devices. Luckily it did, and though it didn’t actually work for me, the bootable flash drive I made worked in another computer just fine. Your mileage may vary with this trick, but it should work on the majority of computers for installing Windows Vista and up. I would suggest using a speedy USB stick as well, as it is to your benefit. I suggest doing these steps on a Vista or above machine, as Diskpart on Windows XP didn’t pick up my flash drive.

  1. Open a command prompt. Type diskpart and hit enter. UAC may prompt you to elevate your rights, do so. A new command window should appear.
  2. Type list disk to find your flash drive. It will appear as a number.
  3. Type select disk <your flash drive from step 2>
  4. Type clean to wipe the flash drive. Optional step, but worth it.
  5. Type create partition primary to create the partition.
  6. Type select partition 1 to select the partition.
  7. Type active to make it active.
  8. Type format fs=fat32 so that it is formatted as FAT32.
  9. Type assign.
  10. Type exit to exit diskpart.

The last step to be done is to copy the actual install files onto the flash drive.

Type xcopy d:\*.* /s/e/f e:\ into your command prompt, where D:\ is the DVD drive with the setup files, and E:\ your flash drive. D:\ can be substituted for a folder if you have the install files somewhere else.

With flash drives being so cheap, it’s easy enough to have one for each OS you want to install this way. Another sign that optical drives are on the decline I guess.

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  1. June 30, 2010 at 07:00

    thanks for ur articles

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