Introduction: Install Windows 8 Directly From Hard Drive – NO DVD or USB Needed!

Picture of Install Windows 8 Directly From Hard Drive – NO DVD or USB Needed!

How to CLEAN Install Windows 8 directly from Hard drive – NO DVD or USB needed!

For example, you have a netbook or desktop that you want to install Windows 8 onto, but can’t use DVD or USB for whatever reason (or don't want to, like me). This method will allow you to boot and install Windows directly from the hard drive. This guide involves plugging the hard drive into another working computer, preparing the hard drive, placing it back in the system, and installing Windows as usual.

This was tested with Windows 8 and Windows 8.1.  The guide for Windows 7 is exactly the same.

Step 1: Part 1: Preparing the HD With Windows 8 Setup Files.

- Connect the hard drive to another working computer.
- Format the hard drive to NTFS (Quick format works fine; multiple partitions also work).
- Copy the following from your Windows 8 disc or ISO:


Step 2: Part 2: Making the HD Bootable

Picture of Part 2: Making the HD Bootable

Using Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Windows 8 open CMD as Administrator (Windows key + R, type CMD, hit Enter)

Enter the following commands, (replace X with what applies to your hard drive):

list disk
select disk X
list partition
select partition X
X:\boot\bootsect.exe /nt60 X:

(See picture for example)

Exit and shutdown.

Note: If you’re working on a 32-bit system, and you want to install 64-bit Windows, you may get problems trying to run the last command (X:\boot\bootsect.exe /nt60 X:).

    Use a computer with a 64-bit version of Windows


    A little trick that worked for me: If you have a 32-bit Windows 8 disc, you can copy bootsect.exe from that and replace the 64-bit one (boot\bootsect.exe).

Step 3: Part 3: Booting and Installing Windows

Picture of Part 3: Booting and Installing Windows

Place the hard drive back into the target machine. Make sure that the BIOS is configured to boot from the hard drive. If you did everything correctly, you should see the blue Windows logo (see picture for example) and setup will load (really fast, too, because it's loading from the hard drive). Install Windows as usual (but don’t format your drive this time in the installer – otherwise it will erase the Windows 8 setup files too!).

Step 4: Part 4: Final Steps/housecleaning

Picture of Part 4: Final Steps/housecleaning

We’ll have to quickly edit the boot menu once Windows is installed.

In Windows 8, hit the Windows key + R. Type msconfig, and hit Enter.
Click to the Boot tab at the top.
Click 'Windows Setup (\windows)', and hit Delete.
Click OK.
Click 'Exit without restart'.
(See picture for example)

And lastly, delete the ‘Sources’ folder and “Windows.old” (if it exists) from your hard drive root (this will free up 2-4gb).

I hope this helps some people out.  Feel free to comment :)


ToddS149 (author)2018-01-12

Wow, such a useful tip. HDD died on an older motherboard which still had a good i7 cpu. So went with an SSD only to find zero support for bootable usb and dvd drivers not recognized. Thought I was going to have to replace the motherboard as well until I ran across this tutorial. Easily installed Windows 10 (which I found for OEM $10). So easy, I may use this method over installing through usb in the future. Thanks a bunch.

southwalesboy (author)2017-09-22

Worked a treat to Install Windows 10 Pro directly on my new SSD without having to transfer files to sluggish USB drives!

TimofeyO (author)2017-09-10

Thank you! One question: Is it possible to do it with a GPT partition?

harri4007 (author)2017-09-06

My hard drive crashed and I replaced it. Of course not saving anything but the loss wasn't too great. After 2 weeks of trying to get the new hard drive to be read by my laptop I came across this solution and I was up and running within an hour. Thanks very much and it was very helpful.

HariJ5 (author)2017-01-06

i have win7 in my comp will i be able to install win8.1 in it with the help of win8.1 system repair disk

HdjgD (author)2016-09-20

Guys who need windows key can go link:

to got. My key got here and after i used is great works.

KenG59 (author)2016-09-08

This worked flawlessly even with windows 10!

I did get an access denied error when I ran the command \boot\bootsect.exe /nt60 but the weird part was that there was a success message followed by an access denied error. Regardless I tried going through and it worked.

ΑλέξανδροςΔ3 (author)2016-06-26

B: is my drive - it is 400GB and it is a NTFS system. When executing "B:\boot\bootsect.exe /nt60 B:" it says:
Could not map drive partitions to the associated volume device objects: Access is denied.

Hi. The same thing happened to me as well with the access denied. You have to run "cmd" as administrator. Go to your Windows search panel, type cmd, right-click on the cmd.exe and run as administrator. Type in the command X:\boot\bootsect.exe /nt60 X: replacing "X" with your drive letter as described in this article by StevenTyler and it should work. It worked for me.

you wont be able to put an operating system on drive a or b for historical reasons
remove the b partition, make an e or f partition or so, and then it should work

clumy (author)2016-06-12

If you guys wanna
activate Windows 8 need a product key, i got you this link to get some stable

Minfeuop (author)2016-06-07

Sharing my experience that i got working windows 8 key can go link to got. My key got here and after i used is great works.

ShikharK2 (author)2016-04-14

Sir i shrink a partition and created a 4 gb new partition , i put windows installation files into it , made that new partition active , installed windows from it successfully . Now i want to extend my partition to its original size. How to do that ? Mg new partition is showing (System, active and primary ). What to do ?

BananaYazoo (author)2015-09-25

I am SO close, when I do the last command though it tells me that either the directory name is invalid or that the system cannot find the path specified. The new HDD is F: and I have converted from GPT to MBR. I am also using CMD as admin so I really don't know what I'm doing wrong. Thank you so much for your tutorial, I haven't found another so clear and simple anywhere online!

ArtiM2 (author)BananaYazoo2016-02-18

hey try to copy the files and folders listed before to the partition (or hdd) you formatted :) I did the same mistake

StephenO31 (author)ArtiM22016-03-29

Duhhh... thanks dude this was getting me too :)

Alice Pitty (author)2016-01-03

you can go get windows, my windows got here and works well

HunterN1 (author)2014-12-23

i do everything and when type 'active' it says "the active command can only be used on fixed mbr disks". help please

MonS4 (author)HunterN12015-12-31

you have gpt hard drive

RichardC6 (author)HunterN12014-12-27

Run the command prompt as administrator and type in the following (X is the disk that applies to you):


list disk

select disk X


convert mbr

Now repeat from step 1 at the top of the page and you should be all good!

IstvánF (author)RichardC62015-04-17

don't forget to create a new partition, format it and add a drive letter for it, like "x", it was hard, but without RichardC6 i could not commet this :)
( btw, the installation failed for me, but the previous installation of windows recovered magically... 3 different hard drives: old windows - new failed install - and this setup created in the tutorial. Im an IT guy, but i have no clue how did this happened.. if u figure out plz inform me :D )

ps.: it was win10 prew not 8

KasunM6 (author)2015-10-31

thank you very much.great work

LinaqtiM (author)2015-10-29

Try link about windows 8, i got help here.

PavlosA1 (author)2015-10-11

Man I LOVE you! I had been stuck with the "We couldn't create a new partition or locate an existing one" error when I was trying to install windows from a usb drive but this method overcame the problem and took less time than any other method of installing windows that I have used before. A neat trick worth remembering.

BananaYazoo (author)2015-09-25

Nope, blue recovery screen. I give up :(

BananaYazoo (author)2015-09-25

My fault. Realised there's a space in between exe and / YIPPEE and fingers crossed for the next stage!!!

gideongek (author)2015-06-07

help if i do the last command (X:\boot\bootsect.exe /nt60 X:) it says that i have no acces to my hdd. see image for more details

CoreyC2 (author)gideongek2015-08-25

Have to run cmd as administrator

HarutY (author)2015-08-06

Hi, your post was very useful for me, but i'm getting an error after doing all the process. It gives me a "Missing bottmgr" error when i put the HDD back to the original PC. It works just when the HDD is put as a secondary disk on the working PC. But it gives the same error on the working PC when I run it only with this "installer" HDD. I'm trying it with a win 7 x64 iso. Thanks in advance.

HarutY (author)HarutY2015-08-07

Finally it works. Had to do it only with the installer HDD on the working PC. Put the HDD and installed the Win7 from a USB. Then made a partition with the win7 installer so I could put the HDD back the failing PC and repair the installation with the installer on a partition.

lucas.buchaul (author)2014-12-12

Lets say i do this to a HDD, where the windows files from the ISO will be at.
Can i install windows to a SSD as my boot drive?

Will the windows 8.1 install guide ask me at what drive i want to install it or will it just install on the HDD that has the ISO files?

At the time of writing this i have no pendrive that is big enough for windows 8.1 and i am quite sure i won't have a windows 8.1 disc nor dvd/cd reader on the target pc.

HarutY (author)lucas.buchaul2015-08-06

The installer normally asks you to choose a partition. That partition list contains partitions from all your HDDs.

IvanF3 (author)2015-07-30

sooo u mesn that "copy" these files means that they will be copied directly to the root of the external HDD? or what?

HarutY (author)IvanF32015-08-06

Yes, as the HDD, or it's partition, is formatted at the first step, there aren't any directories on it.

ClaudioG (author)2014-09-10


I'm using Windows Xp 32bits and when i enter with D:\boot\bootsect.exe /nt60 D: the output is: "D:\boot\bootsect.exe is not a valid Win32 aplication"

I'm trying to install this version of Windows 8.1:

How can i fix this problem?


Luigi RafaelD (author)ClaudioG2015-06-27

I have the same system and the same error.

ClaudioG (author)ClaudioG2014-09-10

I tried the same thing and got the same error message with a Windows Xp 64bit version.

Luigi RafaelD (author)2015-06-26

Windows 7 and windows 8 on hdd external?In the same time.

ChristopherD16 (author)2015-06-19

JasonL20 (author)2015-06-19

Thanks for guide. help me alot!

JasonL20 (author)2015-06-19

ThankYouStevenTyler (author)2015-06-01

thanks, you dont know how long it took me to find the solution to my very special problem but your instruction worked just fine. thanks

boatdrift (author)2015-06-01


VitorA3 (author)2015-04-29

Please help me guys.

I created a new partition in Hard Drive D:, 50gb, and I putted boot and source files in it.

After I installed the Windows 8.1 in Hard Drive C:, but the partition I created for the boot and sources file continue there, and I losed 50gb creating it, but only uses 4gb, how can I pick these 3gb boot and source files and put in Hard Drive C:?

NicoNikoND. (author)2015-04-23

Say i do this with my new hard drive, can i still use it as a main hard drive to put data on?

Syed AbdaalS (author)2015-04-07


Set up a partition on your C drive. You're pretty much splitting your C drive into two seprate drives when you create a partition.

citrusian (author)2015-04-02

after few hours searching & making thread in some local forum about how to make external hdd boot-able, i was surprised why no one just answer it like this, but they answer "why you don't use the dvd" after i already said i don't have usb stick or cd/dvd drive,
it was really simple step but very time consuming to find, but now i can restore my computer again, thanks "Steven Tyler" :)

DurhamB (author)2015-03-27

Any idea how to get this working on a disk initialized as GPT? "diskpart" isn't playing nicely with it...or playing at all.

JuanP8 (author)2015-03-23

I usually do this with Windows 8 USB Installer Maker, a Windows ISO file, and the HDD connected via USB adapter. This small program can detect internal HDDs connected via USB adapter as if they are USB Flash or Pendrives. No other program of the type, at least none that I have been able to find and test, has this capability.

You can create the Windows installer on any Internal HDD partition (other than C or the partition where you'll be installing Windows). When the Windows installer is done, next connect the HDD internally in the target computer, and install windows.... after the installation has concluded, you can format the installer partition as opposed to slowly deleting the Windows files from the installed Windows OS partition as suggested here.

So, if you find this tutorial by Steven Tyler (which is very usefull no doubt) a bit complicated for your level of knowledge with computers, and if you want to simplify the task, use Windows 8 USB Installer Maker... The program can do it for you with just 6 clicks and finish it in a few minutes depending on your hardware speed... You'll need to previously create or download a Windows ISO file for the application to extract the files from.

Note: the program doesn't work with Windows XP or previous Windows Editions.

About This Instructable



Bio: Not even a fan of Aerosmith, it's just a username.
More by StevenTyler:Install Windows 8 directly from Hard drive – NO DVD or USB needed!Install Windows Vista directly from Hard drive – NO DVD or USB needed!Install Windows 7 without USB or DVD without upgrading!
Add instructable to: