Instructables

Install Windows 7 without USB or DVD without upgrading!

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makingwin7hdboot.png
How to CLEAN Install Windows 7 directly from Hard drive – NO DVD or USB needed!!

For example, you have a netbook or desktop that you want to install Windows 7 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 guide will work for Windows 7 and Windows 8.  I have a Windows 8 instructable, but it's essentially the same guide with some Windows 8 pictures.  This guide will not work for Windows Vista - I have an instructable for that.

Part 1: Preparing the HD with Windows 7 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 7 disc:

    Boot
    Sources
    Bootmgr

Part 2: Making the HD bootable

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

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

diskpart
list disk
select disk X
list partition
select partition X
active
exit
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:).
Solutions:

    Use a computer with a 64-bit version of Windows

OR

    A little trick that worked for me: If you have a 32-bit Windows 7 disc, you can copy bootsect.exe from that and replace the 64-bit one (boot\bootsect.exe).

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 “Windows is loading files” 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 7 setup files too!).

Part 4: Final steps/housecleaning

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

In Windows 7, 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'.

And lastly, delete the ‘Sources’ folder from your hard drive root (this will free up 2-3gb).


I hope this helps some people out.  Feel free to comment :)
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PierreR5 days ago

VERY VERY VERY IMPORTANT !!!

This step is extremely important. If you skip this step, you will get the “A required CD/DVD drive device driver is missing” error.
When you see the “Windows is loading files” screen, hold the left CTRL button. This will force a repair command prompt console. When this comes up, type the following:

del C:\boot\bcd
bcdedit /createstore
C:\sources\setup

Install Windows as usual (but don’t format your drive this time in the installer – otherwise it will erase the Windows Vista setup files too!).

edswee4 months ago

I get an error when I install the HDD and attempt to boot up:

"Non-system disk or disk error

replace and strike any key when ready"

The HDD is the only available drive for booting anyway so it's not an issue of a floppy disk or cd or something.

Any ideas?

StevenTyler (author)  edswee9 days ago

Also, if it's an older machine which uses IDE hard drives, make sure the jumper settings are corrupt.

StevenTyler (author)  edswee9 days ago

The drive isn't bootable or it would work. Redo the diskpart step.

spanishgum6 months ago

Hey ST. Thanks so much for the info. I found a similar thread earlier and this cleared up a few questions I had. I have a few more though!

So I am trying to do this all on my pc. I have W7 installed on my friend's local SSD drive, and I need to install W7 to a new SSD so I can switch it out. I have extracted all the W7.iso files onto my full formatted SSD. When I execute these commands you have provided, to my understanding, the boot instructions will be modified? I am nervous because I don't entirely know what I am doing. (don't wanna mess with my current working drives).

So if I input these commands, then I should be able to turn off my pc, unplug my current drives, and then startup. From this point my pc will only see the one drive with the new bootcode and automatically begin the W7 installation process?

I appreciate your input man!

StevenTyler (author)  spanishgum9 days ago

If I'm understanding correctly, then yes. Make sure you select the right drive/partition in diskpart and you shouldn't have any issues.

user_1155005 months ago

Great guide Steven, you helped me install a new copy of Windows 7 professional onto our old till.

Awesome name too ;-)

StevenTyler (author)  user_1155009 days ago

Haha, it's a random username, I know.

Hi Mister Tyler,

Thanks for the great guide. I was wondering why the install wouldn't work just by copying over the files and starting the install from the HDD. It got to the point of expanding the files then froze. Now I understand why (BCD Bootcode unable to verify the paths). Now I can install 64 bit windows 7 for my friends computer, who only got an OEM (pre-installed) Win7 pre-installed, with not so much as a recovery partition from the OEM concerned, and doing all this from my 32bit XP install!! Useless. Oh well, we fixed all that ; )

Thanks buddy.

StevenTyler (author)  MJatinstructables9 days ago

I'm a little confused but I'm glad it worked for you!!

gerri1214 months ago

hello there my friend , i was just pondering this site when i noticed that you had placed an idea which may help me , i already have windows 7 on my laptop but the usb ports are broke , how i do not know but would i be able to do as you have stated to others install win 7 from another hard drive to this laptop, which my restore the usb

StevenTyler (author)  gerri1219 days ago

If the ports are physically damaged, reinstalling Windows won't do anything for you. It could also be an odd drive issue messing up your USB, but if that was the case then USB wouldn't work in Windows but would still be able to boot up a bootable USB drive.

sstrunks99144 months ago

Not sure why this didn't work for me, followed the steps completely and when I put in the drive in the computer I want to install 7 on, it goes to boot and it just stays at a black screen with the - symbol flashing. Any ideas?

StevenTyler (author)  sstrunks99149 days ago

Redo the process. Maybe your media is corrupted.

ompii4 months ago

actually i am having problem while in installing os in d drive . it is not giving selection of other drives but only c drive to install os. what will i do to install os in this drive or having sol to select other drives.

StevenTyler (author)  ompii9 days ago

There's a few things:

-must be NTFS format

-driver issue (download motherboard chipset/sata drivers to fix this)

-try different BIOS settings (AHCI, Sata, IDE mode) etc.

webdevii4 months ago

Good tutorial however why go to all the drama setting this up and setting that up why not just set up a bootable usb media and do it the easy way.

if your machine is compatible with 64 bit software it will state that in the specs of the machine. My suggestion is if your only running memory 2.5 gig or less to be safe just install 32 bit, 64 bit just allows the operating system to see up to 2 terabytes of memory, in other words no memory restrictions. If your machine came with 32 bit software it is probably only designed for 32 bit software.

Remember the ole saying K.I.S.S. Keep it Simple Stupid

Dev

StevenTyler (author)  webdevii9 days ago

There are plenty of comments here thanking me - clearly some people are finding it useful. :)

He's just giving the steps on how to on those system that doesn't have any DVD drive or if ever someone encountered some problem on their DVD drive or USB port.

DaniDiaz25 days ago

Thanks for sharing! After several hours trying to install from USB this is the only one that works fine for me :-)

StevenTyler (author)  DaniDiaz9 days ago

:-)

PierreR12 days ago

Man, you saved my life... and my HP laptop. Works great and very easy to setup. Thumb up !

asahu76 months ago
I have simple question.I have two computer one my and second of my friend.In my friend computer no usb or dvd rom installed.And i have both(usb &dvd rom).So it is possible to install window 8 with using my friend harddisk and then put this harddisk back on my friend compute.Is window working with this way????

Yes sir, as long as you have the installer and then just follow those steps that were given.

zacker6 months ago

So do I need to have the win 7 Disc on hand? I have an XP32 lap top, a win 7, 64 desk top and a win 7(Full edition not the stock starter edition) Net book, Id like to put the win 7, 32 on my laptop so it will match the net book and the desk top. (the desk top is win 7 64). the net book and desktop came with the win 7 installed so I don't have any disc (except for the win 7 64 recovery cd I got from Dell with the desk top.) is there a way to do this still?

I think you have to obtain the installer of the OS you wanted to install sir cause the recovery disk that you've got is just for that specific system from which it came.

cbaldcuchi zacker5 months ago
Actually you have three disks each different system has its own disk you use imgburn or power is make one right of each machine but that's where I'm at
iverson35 months ago

- Connect the hard drive to another working computer.

what if u have 2 hard drives and u want fresh install windows 7 on second hard drive? Is this possible with this metod on the same computer?

Yes, it's possible.

And by the way, may I ask you why do you want to install another OS on the second drive? Is it that you wanted some backup (ready-to-run) OS on your current system just in case?

sjones711 year ago
So here's a question. I've been using this method for a while now, but have recently been given a laptop with 64bit windows. I have the disk, and am running 64 Win8. I followed the instructions the same, but now get an error when first booting the laptop. Do I have to do anything different on a 64bit version? The 32 bit works perfectly.
StevenTyler (author)  sjones716 months ago

Copied from the instructable:

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:).

If
you have a 32-bit Windows 7 disc, you can copy bootsect.exe from that
and replace the 64-bit one (boot\bootsect.exe).

zacker1 year ago
so if I want to, I can make a copy of Windows 7 from y dell 10" net book and use it to install windows 7 on my 17" laptop? Just bby taking the 17" laptops HD out, hooking it into the drive of my netbook and copying the files onto it then sticking it back into the 17" laptop and following the tutorial?
StevenTyler (author)  zacker6 months ago

I'm assuming your netbook does not have a second hard drive slot so you would have to use something such as a USB>Sata adapter because you need the 10" netbook to be functional with Windows on it.

sjones711 year ago
So here's another question for you. Is it possible to do the same procedure with a Windows 8 DVD? They (obviously) have all the same files and folders. I was just wondering :) Thanks
StevenTyler (author)  sjones716 months ago

I made a guide for Windows 8. The steps for Windows 8 and 7 are exactly the same, except the Windows 8 guide has screenshots from Windows 8.

nsjphy1 year ago
Thanks a million. Just helped my buddy get his laptop working in minutes. He was surprised @ how it happened, cos he had no DVD-ROM drive. you're too much!!!
StevenTyler (author)  nsjphy6 months ago

Thanks!

yamahog21 year ago
U mentioned that this can be done with vista, but state "The steps for Vista are almost identical but require an important additional step"

can u please help.

This is for a laptop that the controler for the cdrom drive is no longer working and does not have a usb boot option
StevenTyler (author)  yamahog26 months ago

I recently made a Windows Vista and Windows 8 guide. Check out the Vista one.

tecsperk1 year ago
This happened to me, but what you have to do is install easybcd (google it)

Then when your in easybcd, go to edit menu entry and click on the windows 7 entry and click remove

Then go to add menu entry, click on the windows 7 option and select which drive you have windows 7 disc installed to.

Try booting it now

If you get the same after when windows 7 is installed, do the same above except change the drive option to where ever you installed win7 to
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