Instructables

Install Windows 7 without USB or DVD without upgrading!

Picture of Install Windows 7 without USB or DVD without upgrading!
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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GJD116 days ago

amazing solution and very well instructed trying to install windows on a laptop that wouldn't boot from disk tried many solutions to no avail.

this worked in 15mins which i found it earlier.

Many Thanks!

JanP120 days ago

I get to part 3 OK, but once I start the install and select language and country I get a message that there is a driver missing and that I should insert the appropriate CD (no indication what driver). If I try and insert any CD it shuts down. I repeated the diskpart instruction several times, also copied the boot, source and bootsect.exe files/folders several times from different sources. Any ideas?

Try to download another windows, its possible that some files are missing.

My BIOS was locked and I was unable to boot from USB and CD-ROM, even fast boot didnt work. Its was impossible to unlock the bios on Lenovo thinkpad. I was planing to buy new bios chip, and then a saw that post. Man thanks a lot, its working great, nice job with this tutorial :)

PierreR6 months 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!).

StevenTyler (author)  PierreR6 months ago

That step should only be needed when installing Windows Vista - not Windows 7 or 8.

Steven is right. I was installing Windows 7 and didn't need to do that.

Steven, I am getting this error with Win 7 and holding the left CTRL does nothing. Thoughts?

DebbieT123 days ago

Oh my gosh, this worked like a charm! Your instructions were perfectly spot on. I had been struggling to add a new bootable hard drive to an old system that didn't have a built-in DVD drive. I had the Windows 7 disk, but no way to install it because I couldn't boot to the disk. This post was EXACTLY what I needed. I only wish I had found it weeks ago! Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! :)

jdenslinger1 month ago

WHERE TO GET LEGAL WINDOWS 7 INSTALL MEDIA DOWNLOADS:
I posted this as reply to someone else, but realized the information might be very useful after realizing the number of "WHERE DO I GET THIS?" posts, so here:

Microsoft offers free downloads of their
Windows 7 OS in many languages, editions and bit architectures for
Retail CoA stickerss. This means it's a legal download; and network or
storage device errors withholding, is a clean copy of the installation
media. There is a comprehensive list of downloads from
digitalrivercontent.net (Microsoft's digital distribution service),
including many N-version editions, in this post: http://www.w7forums.com/threads/official-windows-7...

You may be asking, also, "Why are these available
for free?" - simple answer is that they are preset to be 30 day
evaluation copies, with a method of purchasing a product key from
Microsoft through the OS itself.

A quick google search for:
Microsoft Windows 8 Download site:digitalrivercontent.net
will provide links for Windows 8 ISO images as well.

NarasimhaM4 months ago

I am in need of installation win7 without USB and DVD. As you said above, the win7 files to copy, I don't have 'boot' folder. I have folders: Sources, upgrade, support, file 'bootmgr' and 'setup.exe' application. So, what I have to do. Please guide me.

Thank you,

I think you have no hope. But you do have hope if you can get a torrent or go surfing on the web for a free ISO of Windows 7. They all have boot. I guess most of people here are using illegal version. I don't recommend it.

Microsoft offers free downloads of their Windows 7 OS in many languages, editions and bit architectures for Retail CoA stickerss. This means it's a legal download; and network or storage device errors withholding, is a clean copy of the installation media. There is a nice guide at howtogeek which also has links to some of the English ISO images: http://www.howtogeek.com/186775/how-to-download-wi...

There is also a more comprehensive list of downloads from digitalrivercontent.net (Microsoft's digital distribution service), including many N-version editions, in this post: http://www.w7forums.com/threads/official-windows-7...

The last place I would look for a clean copy of Windows 7 is a torrent site. You can find them, but there are more legit and legal places to obtain these.

You may be asking, also, "Why are these available for free?" - simple answer is that they are preset to be 30 day evaluation copies, with a method of purchasing a product key from Microsoft through the OS itself.
The less simple answer includes things like Disc failure rates, "free" disc replacement services and shipping fees, OEMs not packaging media with new computers, all the complaints about the previous issues, and Microsoft wanting a more digital ecosystem for it's products.

A quick google search for:
Microsoft Windows 8 Download site:digitalrivercontent.net
will provide links for Windows 8 ISO images as well.

wil.curtis11 month ago
I copied the iso files to the hdd and went through the cmd steps. I set the bios to boot from the hdd wwith the set up but when I do I get an ntldr is missing error. I also have xp and xp64 images attached to the same computer but on different drives. Any ideas on how to correct this problem ? Thanks
kamikaziN1 month ago

and again :)

kamikaziN1 month ago

thanks again

kamikaziN1 month ago

Myyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy niggga! thaaaanks sooooooo muuuuch! u made my freakin day!

JustinS101 month ago

Thank you verry much i had a problem with my pc but you fix it thanks!

JustinS101 month ago

Thank you verry much i had a problem with my pc but you fix it thanks!

JustinS101 month ago

Thank you verry much i had a problem with my pc but you fix it thanks!

JustinS101 month ago

Thank you verry much i had a problem with my pc but you fix it thanks!

JustinS101 month ago

Thank you verry much i had a problem with my pc but you fix it thanks!

my hp dv6 has a problem that may be its internal hdd is dynamic....and by using win 7 through pendrive i could not complete the format....i used xp but still in vain the approach.....showing that the bootmgr. is missing....so how can i format my C drive...?

partyninjar1 month ago

what if we don't have a disk or a usb with the bootsect.exe in 32bit version. Where else can I get it?

Lightskinsoul3 months ago

Using the "/force" option on locked or "in use" partitions

In certain situations, bootsect may display a message similar to the following:

Updated NTFS filesystem bootcode. The update may be unreliable since the volume could not be locked
during the update:
Access is denied.

Bootcode was successfully updated on all targeted volumes.

This happens if bootsect can't lock the partition or the partition is detected as being used. Note that this error also occurs in WinPE and is not limited to partitions in a booted Windows system.

In many cases, the repair is actually written to the boot sector successfully and no further action is required. However, if needed, you can specify the /force option, which causes a forced dismount of the partition if the standard lock attempt fails. When using this option from WinPE it shouldn't cause any problems, but caution should be used when using it in Windows since it can cause unexpected behavior as all open file handles on the partition are invalidated.

Example: D:\boot\bootsect /nt60 F: /force

Thanks a lot, this was just the command I was looking for. thanks!

StevenTyler (author)  Lightskinsoul3 months ago

Thanks for the tip!

It sounds awful but... x represents the drive where I will install win7? ...and x will install on x? Please advise. Sorry for my ignorance.

AdamJ12 months ago

Hello, I had a really messed netbook with dual boot a some grub errors and such... I decided I want to erase it completely and I did. I deleted all partitions and wiped it, so now I have perfectly clean HDD (all from desktop). And I want to install windows 7 on it.

I followed exactly this manual twice and yet I ended up with the same error each time. After initializing bios it falls into this beautiful screen. What shall I do??

2014-12-05 13.11.06.jpg

Looks like you have graphics chip problem!

StevenTyler (author)  hashim.alandalus2 months ago

Agreed. My guess is it's the integrated video failing.

WORKED PERFECTLY, MANY THANKS!

EvashanK2 months ago

Thank you! worked perfectly... Had issues with a samsung notebook(No dvd drive). Had me scratching my head for 2 days!! Thanks again!

XxPLaGuEzZxX3 months ago

Hey I am having issues with step 2. I have made a partition and opened up CMD as administrator. The issue came in with the list partition/select partition line. What comes up from the list partition is as follows.
Partition ### Type Size Offset
Partition 3 Dynamic Data 992 KB 31 KB
Partition 1 Dynamic Data 199 MB 1024KB
Partition 2 Dynamic Data 422GB 200 MB
Partition 4 Dynamic Data 42 GB 422 GB

I setup my new partition at drive J it is slightly over 25 GBs but with the above data from list partition I dont know which to select. I'm new to installing Operating systems but I am trying to dual boot windows 7 with linux on my freshly built PC. Since i do not have a disk drive or a large enough USB I went to this method but hit this wall. Any help would be appreciated greatly. Thank you.

The only one who can answer your question is you. I noticed you have 4
drives of 4 different sizes. Which drive did you want to install Windows
on?

bampam3 months ago

Does it work with unattended installation? (unattended.xml)?

gajdosa4 months ago

Worked perfectly and instantly. Thank you.

I tried the same when booted from a USB drive. Somehow it failed then. After that I found to this guide - works like a charm.

StevenTyler (author)  gajdosa3 months ago

Glad it could help you!

Eduardo E.R3 months ago

When I run all the steps it says:

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 ideas?

StevenTyler (author)  Eduardo E.R3 months ago

It depends on your motherboard, but you'll have to enter the Config Menu/"BIOS menu" on your motherboard, usually by hitting F1, F2, or Delete during startup and disable EFI or enable legacy/BIOS mode (if available).

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