Microsoft Windows 7 comes pre-installed on most laptops and PCs but there will be a time when you might want to reinstall the operating system or maybe you're building a machine from scratch. Installing Windows from a USB drive is by far the easiest and neatest way of doing so and here's a step by step guide on how to do it.

There is a geeky command line method of creating a bootable USB drive but Microsoft has a free tool for this task which is much quicker and simpler.

You will need a USB drive with a minimum 4GB of space and a Windows ISO file.

The easiest thing to do is download the correct ISO file from the internet. has downloads available for the different versions of Windows 7 - ideally make sure the ISO matches the version which is associated to your product key. However, we have included a trick which will allow you to choose which version you want to install.

Alternatively you can create an ISO file from a Windows disc if you have one. How to geek has a guide on this.

NOTE: The drive will be formatted so make sure you don't have any files on the drive that you wish to keep.  

Step One

Once you have your USB drive and ISO file ready to go. Click the following link and download and install Microsoft's Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool.

Windows 7 USB Tool

Step Two

Insert your USB drive and run the Windows 7 USB download tool - a shortcut should have appeared on your desktop.

Step Three

Select your ISO file to install onto the USB drive and click 'Next'.

Windows 7 USB TOol ISO select

Step Four

The software gives you a choice of burning the ISO file to a USB drive or DVD. For the purposes of this guide select 'USB'.

Windows 7 USB Tool Media Type

Step Five

Now select the USB drive you wish to use from the drop down box and click 'Begin Copying'. You will be presented with a warning that the USB drive needs to be erased, click 'Erase USB Device' and then 'Yes' when asked whether you are sure. Your bootable Windows 7 USB drive will now be created.

Windows 7 USB Tool USB select

Step Six

If you wish you be able to select the version of Windows 7 to install from the one USB drive then open the drive in Windows Explorer and delete the 'ei.cfg' file found in the 'Sources' folder.

Windows 7 USB Drive Version Tweak