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Installing Windows 7 from a USB thumb drive to an SSD is Wicked Fast

Pete Brown - 01 August 2010

I'm trying out various BIOS and clocking tweaks on my bench install of the Ultimate Developer PC 2.0. To keep things clean, I've reinstalled Windows 7 a number of times.

Normally, this would be a deal killer. I mean, who wants to sit around and wait for a complete reinstall of Windows 7 Ultimate x64? Well, turns out it's really fast. I reinstalled 4 or 5 times yesterday and twice today. On the last install today, I live tweeted it just to get a sense of how fast it really is. Read from the bottom-up.


Yes, that is a complete Windows 7 install in just under 10 minutes - including a couple reboots and me wiping the partition, typing in username/password, picking time zone etc.

If you want to do this yourself, follow this tutorial for instructions on how to make a thumb drive bootable.

For most changes, you don't need to do a reinstall. I'm doing it simply because I want to get the best possible install and set of settings before I consider this rig ready to use.

My thumb drive is dog slow. I doubt it would even work for ReadyBoost. I'm ordering a new one; I expect the install to be even faster in that case.

posted by Pete Brown on Sunday, August 1, 2010
filed under:        

6 comments for “Installing Windows 7 from a USB thumb drive to an SSD is Wicked Fast”

  1. Martin Normarksays:
    Just to point out, you can actually download a free utility from Microsoft that turns your USB drive into a bootable Windows 7 install disk. You just tell the program where your Windows 7 ISO is located and it does the rest.

    There's a description of the Tool here: http://store.microsoft.com/Help/ISO-Tool

    And the download link is hidden very well, in step 1 in the Installation paragraph and below the fold.
  2. Mark Stewartsays:
    To prepare the SSD, remove logical prints that result registry corruption and so on, it is essential, (according to Intel, for all SSD devices), to run CLEAN ALL from DISKPART during the Windows 7 Setup. CLEAN ALL will not run from a USB thumb drive due to desktop device restrictions. From a thumb drive you can only run CLEAN, then CREATE PARTITION PRIMARY, and FORMAT. Unfortunately, FORMAT does not properly execute for the SSD, from the setup command prompt Shift-F10, or from the Windows Setup disk preparation window.

    The only way to use CLEAN ALL from a USB is to move comaand focus during Windows Setup to a Windows 7 DVD and run CLEAN ALL from there. However, when you return to your restricted USB to continue Setup, your Windows Setup focus will remain with the DVD device where CLEAN ALL was executed. Your OS installation will run at DVD speed, give or take a milisecond, However, USB is not the device preferred installation channel. Problems may arise.

    For example, HKU S-register permissions corruption will be removed from internal systems disks, but what was a few corrupt folder entries on internal drives then becomes HKU S-registry corruption for all folders and files of all extrenal drives for the same system. In consideration of this and thousands of other issues, Microsoft MAY provide thumb support, or even a method to manually copy the entire setup manaully to the target SSD for future versions of Windows. Windows managment on an SSD Windows system is for advanced users only.
  3. starpcsays:
    more easy tutorial
    format a USB flash driver to NTFS as the tutorial say. ( 4 GB or more. not less)
    but skip the part of CMD
    just copie if the USB is format as NTFS the windows 7 files in the usb /root
    if it is a .iso open it whit Winrar. drag out every thing to the usb flash drive.just wait


    plug in the USB
    chose in the option menu by pressing F12 at boot up (depending on system)
    USB "name of the usb" and windows install will start.
    happy installing windows

    dependig on system speeds and HDD (ssd) how fast the install is.
    my result is 15 minutes.

    i use this for the first time on a net book ( no CD /dvd drive ) and because i was surprised by it . thad i works so fine .and speed. i do it always
    because my DVD always have dents or scratched.

    greets Starpc
  4. gregssays:
    I have used Casper to copy my C drive to an SSD in an Inatek USB 3 enclosure. I can select the drive to boot first - it worked. I would simply use Casper to copy the cdrive, then change the order to boot. Dells bays are hard to get to - I did think of a 500gb ssd with a 2.5 to 3,5 enclosure.I have a 250gb m-sata - and I am running out of space, Is there a problem doing this? Is an internal m-sata 3.0 disk faster?

    I would replace the m-sata drive but it is in a tight place - Dell 8500.

    I can buy an enclosure and copy the drive to a new m-sata and then replace the drive or am I missing something either way?

    Your thoughts?

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