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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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.

AdamJ113 days 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.alandalus3 days ago

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

WORKED PERFECTLY, MANY THANKS!

EvashanK11 days ago

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

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?

bampam21 days ago

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

gajdosa1 month 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)  gajdosa24 days ago

Glad it could help you!

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

StevenTyler (author)  Lightskinsoul24 days ago

Thanks for the tip!

Eduardo E.R26 days 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.R24 days 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).

NarasimhaM2 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.

i got everything to work except for the last line of code X:\boot\bootsect.exe /nt60 X:, the system could not find the patch specified. i tried a few times and i don't know what i did wrong after using the correct drive letter

anamza1 month ago

Hi steven,

Here is my video regarding this topic, maybe have a different but still same title.

I just want to share it. Hope you don't mind.

Below is the link :

good stuff tried twice, copy entire CD installer the second time and loaded my chipset drivers ,finally got win7 to boot . Is there a way to safely remove the install partition?

Mike d

Oakland Calif

desnake3 months ago

Great guide this is exactly what i need as i have a laptop with no CD room and broken USB ports hehe.
However when i go to cmd (as and administrator) diskpart gives me an error "diskpart has encountered an error the service cannot be started either because it is deactivated or it does not have any activated units connected" I have windows 7 home edition 64bit.

Any idea? :|

NicholasS13 months ago

Thank you so much for this guide! Trying to install Win7 from a USB drive on my HP Envy 15t which has no internal DVD drive (though my installer was an .iso anyways) and all 4 USB ports are 3.0 (only compatability in BIOS is for whether or not to allow 3.0 on start [on/auto]). Doing this on a WD Black 2 Dual Drive because the old drive was crashing a lot and I don't want to lose my files (BSOD on DPC_WATCHDOG_VIOLATION before I could even try the solutions from reddit)

PierreR4 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)  PierreR3 months ago

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

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

haydenmarkss3 months ago

amazing tutorial, super easy to follow and amazing as I didnt have the windows CD! windows is working fine.

edswee8 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)  edswee4 months ago

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

StevenTyler (author)  StevenTyler3 months ago

* meant to write "correct", not corrupt.

StevenTyler (author)  edswee4 months ago

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

spanishgum10 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)  spanishgum4 months 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_1155009 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_1155004 months 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)  MJatinstructables4 months ago

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

gerri1218 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)  gerri1214 months 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.

sstrunks99148 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)  sstrunks99144 months ago

Redo the process. Maybe your media is corrupted.

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