Install Windows 10 via USB stick – how it works

With appropriate tips and tools, Windows 10 can also be installed from a specially prepared USB storage medium.

Do you want to install Windows, but do not have an internal DVD drive on your notebook or desktop PC and do not have an external drive available for connection to the USB port? After that, normally only the way remains via a USB stick. It is first made bootable and then the Windows setup is transferred from the original data carrier. Prepared in this way, you can boot the notebook and then install Windows as usual.

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Because many notebooks and mini PCs no longer have a DVD drive, you can simply load the new Windows operating system from the USB stick. Microsoft provides appropriate programs for this.


The Media Creation Tool for Windows 10 can be used to create a setup stick for the new operating system. The necessary files are downloaded from the Internet.

Create Windows 10 USB Boot Stick:

Microsoft offers for Windows 10

the Media Creation Tool
. With this tool you can easily create a Windows 10 Boot Stick and then install Windows 10 from it. The tool always downloads the current version of Windows 10 and is updated twice a year when the major Windows 10 updates appear.

The operation and functions correspond to those of previous editions. You select the desired language, system architecture (32 or 64 bit) and version. It is practical that you can switch off additional software when creating the installation medium, which will then no longer be installed in future installations. In the following step, you choose the “USB memory stick” option and continue. Then Windows 10 is downloaded from Microsoft and transferred to the stick. It may take some time – be patient. When the process is complete, a computer can be booted with the stick and you can install Windows 10 as usual.

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Make a Windows setup stick with the freeware Rufus

As a simpler alternative, you can use the free program

work that can be loaded without installation. Start Rufus by double-clicking on the EXE program file. On the user interface of the German-language tool, first select the drive with the inserted USB stick in the upper area, including the option “GPT partitioning scheme for Uefi computers” for the partition scheme and “FAT32” as the file system. You can apply the other settings without changes and use the small button behind the “ISO image” entry to integrate the ISO file of the desired Windows system. Now click on “Start” and “OK” to prepare the USB stick for Windows setup. This process takes some time, depending on the speed of the stick. Then you can continue with the Windows installation.


FAT32 allows file sizes up to a maximum of 4GB.

Especially if you create a Windows setup stick with all updates
, it can happen that the install.wim file is larger than 4GB and therefore cannot be copied to a FAT32 stick. To create an installation stick for UEFI mode, you need a total of two sticks. Format one as described for Rufus with FAT32 in the GPT partition scheme. Then load an ISO file into Rufus from which you previously removed the install.wim. You get such a file, for example, if you like your setup files with a tool

edit, and after unloading the image – but before creating the ISO – move the install.wim file from the “sources” directory to another stick. This stick must of course be formatted with NTFS beforehand, and the file should also end up in a new “sources” folder.

To install, boot the PC from the FAT32 stick and start the Windows setup. An error message appears shortly afterwards. Then insert the NTFS stick with the install.wim and continue.

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Boot computer from USB stick: adjust BIOS settings

Now insert the USB stick into the computer or notebook and reboot. In the event that the Windows installation does not start automatically when the computer is switched on, you must change the start sequence in the BIOS. Often the standard built-in hard drive starts up and other media such as DVD and USB stick are not addressed. So press the key shown on the screen during the start-up process (mostly Del, Esc, F2 or F10). In the bios / Uefi, look for the menu “Boot” (or similarly named). Now move the entry for the USB stick to the first position using the buttons shown on the screen. Next, save the settings and restart the computer. Some PCs also offer a menu from which you can select the boot drive. You can usually access it shortly after switching on the computer using the F8, F10 or F12 keys.

So that the computer boots from the USB stick, this must be supported by the BIOS. Make the appropriate settings after restarting the PC.


So that the computer boots from the USB stick, this must be supported by the BIOS. Make the appropriate settings after restarting the PC.

Install Windows 10 on a hard drive or SSD using a USB stick

We install in our example

Windows 10
on a Samsung notebook without a DVD drive. Booting from the USB stick is set up accordingly. After starting the computer from the Windows boot stick, the installation wizard appears. First confirm the language settings and then click on the “Install Now” button. Now the actual setup is started.

Enter a valid license key during the new installation. Confirm the Microsoft license agreement and choose how you want to install Windows on your computer. For a new installation, click on the option “Custom: Install Windows only (…)”. Windows automatically determines a possible installation drive. If available, you can choose another one. After clicking on “Next” the installation begins, which takes some time. The PC then restarts. Windows is now set up ready for use. At the end of the installation, Windows prompts you to make a few adjustments to the settings – and Windows is ready to go.

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Customize Windows with special tools

There are some tools that specialize in customizing Windows installation media. It is particularly easy

to use. The tool enables the integration of updates and drivers as well as some adjustments to the Windows configuration. The free version of NTlite is free for private use. For $ 45, you can purchase the home version at, which can also remove more Windows components for a leaner installation and offers more options for integrating device drivers and programs.

With NTlite, customized Windows installation media can be created that integrate tools and drivers.


With NTlite, customized Windows installation media can be created that integrate tools and drivers.

The free one

does a similar thing, but the user interface is somewhat confusing, and the functions have only been extensively tested with Windows 7 and 8 so far.


With these 10 tips you can optimally adapt Windows 10


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