Wish to reinstall Windows 7 operating system on your computer? A Windows 7 bootable USB is an excellent solution. Learn why and how to create a bootable USB on Windows 7 and recover data if your computer won’t boot.
In this article
Why make a Bootable USB for Windows 7?
A Windows 7 iso bootable USB saves you the trouble of burning a Windows ISO file to a DVD (CDs don’t have sufficient storage). Besides being more inconvenient, DVDs are more prone to damage than USB drives; merely scratching them would render them unplayable.
Moreover, newer computers don’t have CD/DVD drives, making a bootable USB your only viable option for installing Windows. Let’s see what items and tools you need for a Windows 7 USB boot.
What You Need to make a bootable USB for Windows 7
A Windows 7 USB boot requires the following items.
USB Flash Drive
Installing Windows 7 from a bootable USB requires a blank USB flash drive with at least 4 GB of space for a 32-bit processor or 8 GB for a 64-bit architecture. However, some tools require a minimum of 8 GB, regardless of the CPU.
Official Windows 7
Purchasing the official Windows 7 ISO file from Microsoft Store is necessary to install the OS. However, Microsoft has ended the Windows 7 support, so you can’t find direct download links on the official site.
Fortunately, we’ve found magnet links for Windows 7 versions (original files on a secure server), but you’ll need a valid product key to activate Windows. Hopefully, you’ve written yours down when initially installing your OS.
Rufus or Windows USB/DVD Download Tool
Third-party software like Rufus or Windows USB/DVD Download Tool will help you make a bootable USB for Windows 7. Rufus can also download a Windows 7 ISO file for you.
Moreover, your computer has a built-in tool (Command Prompt) that can help you create a bootable USB.
Let’s see how to make a bootable USB for Windows 7 once you finish the preparations.
Top 3 Methods for Creating a Windows 7 Bootable USB
The following methods will tell you how to make a bootable USB for Windows 7 within minutes. Let’s start with the most straightforward.
Rufus is a free, open-source app for creating bootable USB drives. It’s a lightweight Windows utility for all OS versions, supporting multiple file systems (FAT16, FAT32, exFAT, NTFS, and ReFS) and ensuring file integrity. It doesn’t need an installation but requires at least 8 GB of free space to make a bootable USB.
Here’s how to install Windows 7 from USB drives with Rufus:
- Connect your USB to your computer (or another PC if yours crashed).
- Download Rufus from the official website and run the file to start the app.
- Rufus will detect your USB drive automatically, but you must select it if you’ve connected other removable devices.
- Click Disc or ISO image under Boot selection. Hit Select to choose a downloaded ISO file or Download to let Rufus get the latest version.
- Pick Windows 7 from the drop-down list.
- Click Standard Windows installation so Rufus can set a compatible partition scheme and target system.
- Name your bootable USB drive and hit Start. Don’t worry about other fields; leave them to default settings.
Here’s how to make Windows 7 boot from the USB once Rufus makes the flash drive bootable:
- Plug your bootable USB into the computer where you wish to install Windows 7.
- Restart the PC and press the BIOS key repeatedly (F1, F2, F10, F12, or DEL). It varies among devices, but you’ll see it on the screen.
- Switch from the Main to the Boot menu with the ➜ key.
- Use the + or - key to move Removable Devices (it might be External Devices or HDD Group on your computer) to the top. Press Enter to expand the option, select your bootable USB drive with the Enter key, and hit F10 to save the modifications.
- Press Enter to confirm the configuration changes.
Your computer will boot with Windows 7. Follow the on-screen instructions to install the OS (it doesn’t require technical expertise).
Using Windows USB/DVD Download Tool
Microsoft’s Windows USB/DVD Download Tool is a free utility for creating bootable USB flash drives and DVDs. Microsoft removed it from the Microsoft Store, but many trusted sources offer download links for the latest Windows USB/DVD Download Tool version.
Here’s how to make Windows 7 boot from USB once you download and install this tool on a working computer:
- Connect your USB drive to the computer.
- Launch the Windows USB/DVD Download Tool and click Browse to find your downloaded Windows 7 ISO file. Select the file and click Next.
- Select the USB device option.
- Pick your USB flash drive from the drop-down list, but the tool should recognize it automatically if you haven’t connected other devices to the PC. Click Begin copying.
- Windows USB/DVD Download Tool will format your USB drive and copy the ISO file onto it.
- Once you see this success message, you’ll have Windows 7 ISO on a bootable USB.
Check the section above to see how to install Windows 7 from a USB after making it bootable with the Windows USB/DVD Download Tool.
Using Command Prompt
Windows Command Prompt (CMD) is a command-line interpreter (CLI) for executing administrative functions like creating a bootable USB drive.
Here’s how to make a bootable USB for Windows 7 using CMD (don’t worry about uppercase and lowercase letters for the commands because CMD isn’t case-sensitive):
- Plug your USB drive into a working computer.
- Find CMD in the search bar and select Run as administrator.
- Run the diskpart command to start the DiskPart utility.
- Type list disk and hit Enter to see all the volumes on your PC.
- Once you identify your USB drive, run the select disk 3 command, replacing “3” with the USB’s number.
- Run the following commands one by one: clean, create partition primary, select partition 1, and active.
- Format your USB with this command: format FS=NTFS quick. Replace the NTFS value with FAT32 if your computer uses UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface). The NTFS format is suitable for legacy BIOS systems.
- Once the process completes, run the following command: assign letter=J. You can use any available drive letter.
- Type exit and hit Enter to close the DiskPart utility (don’t close CMD yet).
- Find your downloaded Windows 7 ISO file in File Explorer, right-click it, and select Mount.
- Note the DVD drive letter the computer assigned after mounting the ISO file.
- Go to CMD, type the DVD drive letter with a colon (“I:” in our example), and hit Enter.
- Change the directory with this command: cd boot.
- Run the bootsect /nt60 J: command to update your USB drive’s file system boot code. Replace “J” with your USB drive letter.
- Type cd and hit Enter to return to the DVD drive’s primary directory with the mounted Windows 7 ISO file.
- Copy the ISO file to your USB and make it bootable with this command: xcopy i:\*.* /s/h/f j:\. Remember to replace “i” with the DVD drive letter and “j” with a corresponding one for your USB.
- Type exit and hit Enter once you see the “File(s) copied” text.
Making a bootable USB for Windows 7 using CMD may seem complex, but our steps and screenshots will make it a breeze.
Bonus Tip: How to Recover Data if Windows 7 Won’t Boot
The methods above should help boot your system with a Windows 7 bootable USB. However, what if a more significant problem is at play? What if you can’t start your system and lose precious data?
Before seeking expert help from a professional data recovery service, try software like Wondershare Recoverit.
Wondershare Recoverit can restore 1,000+ file types across 2,000+ devices with a 95% success rate, making it fantastic for avoiding data loss.
Here’s how to do it:
- Go to Hard Drives and Locations, choose your HDD under External Drives, and click Start to initiate scanning.
- Pause or stop the scan anytime if you see the files you wish to restore (or wait for the software to retrieve everything).
- Preview the salvaged data, tick their checkboxes, and hit Recover.
- Choose where to save the files and click Recover.
Creating a Windows 7 bootable USB is pretty straightforward. You can do it within minutes with a quality tool and quickly start your system. However, if your computer refuses to boot, use data recovery software like Wondershare Recoverit to retrieve lost data.
How can I create a Windows 7 bootable USB?The top tools to create a Windows 7 bootable USB include Rufus, Microsoft’s Windows USB/DVD Download Tool, and Command Prompt. Rufus might be the best since it does most of the legwork. Whichever you choose, the steps above will guide you.
How can I recover data if Windows 7 won’t boot?Data recovery software like Wondershare Recoverit can help you salvage data if your Windows 7 won’t boot. It can recover data from a crashed computer (among other devices). However, you can also remove your internal HDD, connect it to a working computer with a disk enclosure, and use this software to recover lost files.
Will I lose data if I remove my internal HDD from a computer that won’t boot?Removing your internal HDD won’t cause data loss. After all, your data is recoverable even if you accidentally delete it. Therefore, connect it to a working computer and get lost files with a professional tool like Wondershare Recoverit.