Boot Camp Error - "Non-system disk" - Win 7 USB not bootable (Yosemite)

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by thejamesmartin, Dec 22, 2014.

  1. thejamesmartin, Dec 22, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2014

    thejamesmartin macrumors newbie

    Dec 22, 2014
    I have a MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2014) - Yosemite 10.10.1, and am using Boot Camp Assistant to install Windows 7 Home Premium. However, I can't for the life of me get the Mac to recognize/boot from the USB drive. Here's what I've done:

    Macbook Pro Retina - Yosemite 10.10.1

    1. Used Boot Camp Assistant to "Create a Windows 7 install disk" and "Install Windows 7". I downloaded a Windows 7 Home Premium x64 .iso from Digital River (file name is X17-58997.iso).
    2. I'm installing on a 32GB Sandisk Ultra Fit USB drive.
    3. Installation works fine and finishes.
    4. System restarts, but throws "Non-system disk - Press any key to reboot" error. (interestingly, hitting a key does nothing on this screen).
    5. So, I force reboot, and it then throws a "No bootable device -- insert disk and press any key" error.
    6. So, I force reboot again, while holding option, and my only choice is my main "Macintosh HD" drive - it does not show the USB drive as an option. So, I boot as usual.
    7. Then, I check System Preferences > Startup Disk, and the USB drive is not available there either.

    Why is this happening? I've also attached a few screenshots of the USB drive. I've read that the USB drive needs to be formatted in ways other than MS-DOS, but that's what Bootcamp Assistant is choosing for me, and the process continues no problem.. Also, it seems as though the contents on the USB drive look fine.


    Attached Files:

  2. rigormortis macrumors 68000


    Jun 11, 2009
    when creating boot disks on usb you need to use a specific utility to do this.

    usb doesn't have a boot sector, any booting on usb is done through emulation

    usb does not have a "track 0"

    try using a windows computer and " HP USB DISK FORMAT TOOL " to write the iso

    that should work

    if that method fails, try a different brand of usb key, better yet, use a class 10 sd card, using the same tool

  3. thejamesmartin thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 22, 2014
    Thanks, rigor. So, by using your method, will I have to worry about all of the Mac drivers Boot Camp downloaded/added to the USB drive? Are they something that Windows will sort out once booted?
  4. rigormortis macrumors 68000


    Jun 11, 2009

    can u do the method i said and then have bootcamp make a separate driver cd???

    i thoguht at one time bootcamp wrote a driver disk and didn't mix it with your windows install usb key

    its been a while since i worked with bootcamp

    can bootcamp write everything to a iso file and then you write that ?

    maybe the reason its not working is you should try a different brand of usb key/sd card too
  5. rigormortis macrumors 68000


    Jun 11, 2009
    peter cohen's article from Apr 22, 2014 still says you can stillwrite two usb keys

    use hp usb tool to write the iso key to a usb key

    use boot camp assistnt to write a driver cd

    once u boot the usb key and install windows and its running
    you can put the driver cd in and run setup
  6. thejamesmartin thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 22, 2014
    Ok, using the HP USB tool, I'm not sure exactly how I'm supposed to "write the ISO" to USB. It gives the options to format to FAT32 or NTFS. Only the FAT32 option enables the "Create a DOS startup disk using system files located at:" feature. Should I be selecting that? If so, where am I locating the system files? The .iso file is not allowed..

    And btw, I'm still totally confused as to why my Mac creates a "bootable" USB drive via Boot Camp that isn't actually bootable. Makes no sense whatsoever. Why is it creating something that immediately doesn't work?
  7. rigormortis macrumors 68000


    Jun 11, 2009

    i might of been wrong with hp tool and maybe u need another tool like
    "usb boot tool", but the general post was most likely correct heh

  8. thejamesmartin thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 22, 2014
    I really appreciate the info, but I'm not paying for that software - especially when my Mac is supposed to handle everything for free.

    Again, this seems like such a roundabout method for something that Macs are supposed to with Boot Camp Assistant.

    Any other thoughts?
  9. rigormortis macrumors 68000


    Jun 11, 2009
    i think u should not change it from "fat" but i am not 100 % sure on that
    so don't change it from fat the first time you try


    its probably the fault of your usb key then

    this is how usb keys work, they don't have boot sectors. they do not have a track 0. if you could manage to write a real boot sector to a flash drive , you would ruin it. all booting is done by emulation in the firmware of the usb key. when you try to boot a usb key, the usb key is supposed to look for certain system files, like the boot manager or "" and it emulates a floppy disk drive and passes the boot manager to the computer.

    format the usb key as "fat"
    re write the iso file to different keys or different sd cards until you get one that works

    if you took a usb key and formatted it as fat and went to a dos computer and typed
    xcopy /h c:\*.* d:, it would also make a "bootable usb key" because the usb key's firmware would see the boot hand then pass along and msdos iOS etc
  10. thejamesmartin thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 22, 2014
    Will do - going to try several other thumb drives, although unfortunate because this is my only USB 3.0 drive, so I was hoping installation would be much quicker..
  11. thejamesmartin thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 22, 2014
    Tried several USB thumb drives and it still won't boot from it. I can get these USB drives to boot easily on a Windows PC, my Mac just doesn't see them..

    Also, FYI, no matter how I format the thumb drive, Boot Camp Assistant will format it again during installation.

    I simply can't get this Mac to recognize any bootable USB drive.
  12. Gjwilly macrumors 68030

    May 1, 2011
    SF Bay Area
    More important than the formatting is the partitioning.
    Make sure you go to the Partition tab and select MBR as the partition table.
    Select FAT as the file system.
    Do NOT use USB 3.0 -- USB 2.0 only.
  13. thejamesmartin thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 22, 2014
    Thanks for the info, but I just could never get Win 7 to boot from USB. I tried every possible partion type, format type, 4 USB drives (3.0 and 2.0) - no luck when trying to boot.

    So, I downloaded the technical copy of Windows 10 and it booted and installed perfectly. Runs well on Yosemite.

    There are a few threads on Apple support that get pretty in-depth about F-disk, etc., but it ended up taking too much time to get Win 7 to run.
  14. gonja macrumors newbie

    Apr 6, 2015

    I am going to try this now. I have the same exact issue you described and I've searched for a solution with no avail. I have not tried using a different program to burn the iso to a usb drive either however. I also have not tried using an external USB cd rom drive but that's the next thing I'm going to try if this Windows 10 suggestion doesn't work. Whole thing has been pretty annoying because while this problem has been documented many times as far as i can tell, the solution is still not readily available.
  15. allison1derland macrumors newbie

    Mar 22, 2015
    Read SP1 was the problem, just a 7.iso with no service pack could work???

    I had Windows 7 successfully installed via bootcamp a few years ago. I later had to wipe my drive though (unrelated to Windows), and that got rid of it obviously. I haven't tried reinstalling 7 until recently, and met the same problems the OP did. I tried booting from a DVD and from a USB I created with Bootcamp Assistant and even one I created on a Windows machine. None worked. I just read somewhere else that people had problems with using .iso files that were Win7SP1, but some had success with using the regular Win 7 base .iso files with no service pack included. Considering trying that. But I might just try the 10TP because why not?
  16. zedboy macrumors newbie

    Apr 30, 2015

    When I used bootcamp assistant, and went through the steps; Creating a windows 7 usb, as well as downloading the drivers to a separate usb, I then received the error Non-system disk. I then removed the drivers usb and restarted the mac. This time I successfully booted to windows usb. After formatting the boot camp partition I inserted the Drivers usb to prevent any issues with the drivers.

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