Installing Windows 7 from USB thumb drive

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by Fried Chicken, Jun 16, 2011.

  1. Fried Chicken macrumors 6502

    Fried Chicken

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2011
    #1
    Apparently if you have a windows CD, and you want to install it onto a computer w/o an optical drive (such as my lenovo thinkpad),
    Windows makes it very easy, all you have to do is copy over the documents.

    Unfortunately, whenever I try to do this, my computer just displays a blank screen and doesn't do anything.

    I've tried installing to an external HD, but M$ doesn't let you do that either.
    Does anyone know what might be causing this issue? I've tried formatting my USB drive in NTFS, FAT, and ExFAT... Every time it just doesn't work.
     
  2. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    New England
    #2
    Mac's have a very different boot process than typical PCs, and thus what works on many if not most PCs doesn't work reliably on Macs.

    Sometimes, using rEFIt http://refit.sf.net can help with booting the USB stick, but it doesn't always work with all Macs and USB drives.

    You are best off burning it to a disc and installing from the SuperDrive. If you can't for one reason or another, read the long thread on the topic. http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=601414&highlight=without+super+drive

    B
     
  3. Fried Chicken thread starter macrumors 6502

    Fried Chicken

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    #3
    Ah, I'm trying to install it on a Lenovo x100e, which doesn't have a dvd drive, not install it on the iMac.
     
  4. TEG macrumors 604

    TEG

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    #4
    Actually, it is nearly impossible to boot Windows from USB, due to driver requirements. You can usually use a USB DVD drive, because the BIOS understands the signals, but for some reason it doesn't work with external USB hard drives.

    TEG
     
  5. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #5
    Yes, but that's not what the OP is trying to do.

    It's not enough to just copy the contents of the ISO to a thumb drive. See, for example, the guide linked below that I have used successfully, just not on my Macs.

    http://www.intowindows.com/how-to-install-windows-7vista-from-usb-drive-detailed-100-working-guide/

    B
     
  6. TEG macrumors 604

    TEG

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    #6
    Actually, the Installer for Windows is in and of itself, a version of Windows, and therefore is nearly impossible to run off of a thumbdrive.


    TEG
     
  7. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #7
    :confused: Then why have I, and many others, been able to install Windows from a thumbdrive that was created from the guide I linked to above? :confused:

    It works fine on a typical BIOS-laden PC, just not on a Mac.

    B
     
  8. Fried Chicken thread starter macrumors 6502

    Fried Chicken

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2011
    #8
    See, this is where I'm stuck.

    It should work fine on my Lenovo Thinkpad. I've tried the strategy using a USB drive formatted in both FAT and NTFS, neither worked.
     
  9. mankymanning macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    #9
    This is untrue. It is a common way to install Windows from Vista onwards.

    You do need to ensure that when you build the bootable usb drive that you do the following steps

    1) Format it properly and set up the partition using diskpart
    2) Copy the install media files over
    3) Run bootsect from the media on the usb drive

    Plenty of guides around like this one:-

    http://www.maximumpc.com/article/howtos/how_to_install_windows_7_beta_a_usb_key

    Ensure that if building a 32 bit usb install you run bootsect within a 32 bit environment and when building x64 do it from an x64 environment. Although nowhere specifically states this I have always had issues say building an x64 bootable USB drive from within a 32 bit environment.
     
  10. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #10
    You need to follow one of the guides like:

    It's not just copying the files over.

    Plus, your BIOS settings have to be such that it will try and boot from it.

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  11. Eidorian macrumors Penryn

    Eidorian

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    Mar 23, 2005
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    #11
    I made an ISO under OS X via Disk Utility (by default it is a hybrid image under disc/cdmaster, just change the extension).

    I then used the Windows 7 USB/DVD download tool (in Windows) that prepped my flash drive. I am not against using diskpart and drag/dropping the files over but I wanted something with fewer steps.

    Now if the bootloader on a Mac is going to like that flash drive is another story. It works just fine just going to USB-HDD from the Boot Menu on my other machines. I have not tried it on my Macbook (Late 2007).
     
  12. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #12
    The OP is trying on a Lenovo, but it definitely seems like most Macs don't like them. Sometimes rEFIt helps get them over the hump, but not always.

    OS X from a flash drive, sure. Windows, not so much.

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  13. Eidorian macrumors Penryn

    Eidorian

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    #13
    I could have made the ISO of the disc in the optical drive using a wide variety of utilities under Windows as well. I am somewhat surprised I did not have one installed to be honest. The Windows 7 USB/DVD download tool is a simple wizard and knowing the letter of your flash drive after that. The process is automated outside of the file path of the ISO and the drive letter of your Flash drive. (It formats your flash drive as well, obviously.)

    rEFIt came to my mind as well to try to coax a Mac into boot onto the Windows installer flash drive.

    I liked using the flash drive to install Windows. It did not appear to be that much faster but it was much less noisy compared to the hum of the optical drive.
     
  14. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #14
    Likewise. I used it for the first time on a desktop I built that was initially without ODD. It was faster for me to download the official ISO than to rip one of my own, but I did do the manual route for building the installer.

    B
     

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