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.
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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 :)
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ClaudioG10 months ago


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?


I have the same system and the same error.

ClaudioG ClaudioG10 months ago

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

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

JasonL201 month ago

Thanks for guide. help me alot!

JasonL201 month ago
gideongek1 month ago

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


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

boatdrift1 month ago


VitorA33 months ago

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.3 months ago

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

HunterN17 months ago

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

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!

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

Syed AbdaalS3 months ago


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.

citrusian3 months ago

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" :)

DurhamB4 months ago

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

JuanP84 months ago

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.

jabayata4 months ago

I tried to install win8 dual boot on Drive D with an existing win7 on Drive C. The installation wet well and the files were cleaned. However, how can I connect back to my Windows7 on Drive C? should I reconfigure the disk again and make it active on CMD?

JuanP8 jabayata4 months ago

jabayata: If you haven't found the answer to your question: Use EasyBCD installed on Windows 8 to edit it's bootloader with the Widows 7 and 8 dual boot information. Next install the program on Windows 7 and repeat to edit the correction into the Windows 7 bootloader to make Windows 7 (on C:) the default OS.

Pyro6674 months ago

Just did almost what you did without removing the harddrive.

1: booted the laptop (old acer aspire 3000) off of hiren's boot cd 15.2

2: Loaded Mini xp off boot cd

3: formated c:

4: copied -Boot -Sources -Bootmgr off of a usb stick to c:

5: ran command prompt

6: did


list disk

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


installed win 8

I am very happy this tutorial was here and i hope the info I provided may help someone in the same situation i was in ( old laptop; no DVD drive, Wouldn't boot off USB...no other laptop to put the drive in to complete the steps)


AlahD5 months ago

Best way of cleaning you C:\ drive is given in the link without any software and with simple steps just see this tutorial...


YAHudahYAHI5 months ago

hey I got bootmgr is compressed error? what did I do wrong? how to fix it? thanks

r94ever6 months ago

It's ok if I don't format hardrive?

juanmivf6 months ago

I had the same problem as maytmatheus, then I ran it as admin and when I try to execute the "X:\boot\bootsect.exe /nt60 X:" bit it prompts with "This tool can only be run on systems booted using a PC/AT BIOS. This system was booted using EFI or some other firmware type." Any idea how I can solve this? I'm trying to do it for W7. Thanks, guys.

Hello, I have a Dell XPS 17 (L702X from 2011) 1TB (C:, D:), intel core i7-2630, 8GB RAM, nVidia GT 550M running WIn 7 Ultmate x64 & I want to install Win 8.1 Pro x64. My question is since I have the Win 8.1 Pro bootable ISO file, can't I just extract the contents to a folder on drive D: & initialize the setup.exe file & install from there to Drive C?

lucas.buchaul7 months ago

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.

maytmatheus.7 months ago

If anyone had a problem with the final command on cmd, you should try to execute cmd.exe as admin. it worked fine for me.

t4t10 months ago

I understand that this instructable has a different purpose ... to prepare a hard disk that will be installed internally to the pc however here goes....I'm using a 64GB USB3 San Disk pen drive over a usb 2 port for bootup. When I hit the "Where do you want to install windows?" screen no drives appear available to proceed with install. I was expecting the pen drive to show up similar to what happens with an internal hard drive. Instead I get a warning "We could'nt find any drives. To get a storage driver, click load driver". Any ideas how to proceed please?

StevenTyler (author)  t4t8 months ago

You need the chipset drivers for your drive so that Windows can find your hard drive. Go to your motherboard maker's website and download them. You will have to find a way to integrate the drivers into the Windows 8 installer if you can't use anything else but it may be easier to copy them to a USB drive to load them.

Here's a guide to integrate the drivers:


I've never actually used this method myself but it should work.

stetho809 months ago

i had to find cmd.exe right click, run as admin. win key+r did not run as admin for me.

other than that good job :)

ClaudioG10 months ago


Its me again. I believe i solved my problem. I found this bootsect.exe file, downloaded and it "worked" fine.


But, now i got i new problem. After enter with the command:

D:\boot\bootsect.exe /nt60 D:

i restart my system and when he trys to boot i get this error message:


Ps. I don't know if that file i donwloaded is for Windows 8.1 but it executed with no error message.

Cyrilk11 months ago

Wow... awesome tutorial, didn't even need to retry... ;-), thumbs up to the person who made this tutorial

StevenTyler (author)  Cyrilk11 months ago

You're welcome!

theodorm11 months ago

it says that the system cannot find the path specified :/

theodorm theodorm11 months ago

nvm i had forgotten to copy the files from windows 8.1 ^_^ thank you for the tutorial

jason810011 months ago

Thanks bro! Installing Windows on an ssd from a 2.0 usbkey is such a shame lol!

TraeD11 months ago

Excelent Tutorial !!

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