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 :)
desnake3 days 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? :|

NicholasS115 days 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)

PierreR1 month 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)  PierreR24 days 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?

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

edswee5 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)  edswee1 month ago

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

StevenTyler (author)  StevenTyler24 days ago

* meant to write "correct", not corrupt.

StevenTyler (author)  edswee1 month ago

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

spanishgum7 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)  spanishgum1 month 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_1155006 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_1155001 month 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)  MJatinstructables1 month ago

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

gerri1215 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)  gerri1211 month 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.

sstrunks99145 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)  sstrunks99141 month ago

Redo the process. Maybe your media is corrupted.

ompii5 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)  ompii1 month 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.

webdevii5 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)  webdevii1 month 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.

DaniDiaz1 month ago

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

StevenTyler (author)  DaniDiaz1 month ago

:-)

PierreR1 month ago

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

asahu77 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????
pandaboon asahu72 months ago

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

zacker7 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?

pandaboon zacker2 months ago

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 zacker6 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
iverson36 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)  sjones717 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).

zacker2 years 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)  zacker7 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)  sjones717 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)  nsjphy7 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)  yamahog27 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
StevenTyler (author)  tecsperk7 months ago

EasyBCD is a great boot editor. Glad you were able to fix the problem with it.

Trimer1 year ago
Ok, I have a problem making it work. Here is what I want to achieve. Desktop computer, one hard disk (ATA) -> two partition (one with installation files -win7/32, other empty and ready for installing windows).

Tried the following guide using laptop with winXP and drive connected through USB/ATA converter. Copied the data from DVD that was recently used to successfully install windows/ tried using files from ISO image (successfully installed virtual machine with that image), so the data should be ok. The partition is set active, the bootsect was run (several times). Even tried to rename the partition to the name of the DVD. But I still get the error. It is starting to load fine, but then I get the following error:

File: \windows\system32\boot\winload.exe
Status: 0xc0000001
Info: The selected entry could not be loaded because the application is missing or corrupt.

I even tried adding the file on both the installation partition and on empty one, but no luck making it work.

Any suggestions? What am I doing wrong? Is it even possible to install win this way, or do I need to have the windows previously installed and this is only meant if you want to have the partition when you want to reinstall windows
StevenTyler (author)  Trimer7 months ago

Did you follow the guide correctly in regards to making the hard drive bootable? Seems like a booting issue.

ppatpat1 year ago
How about a neat, clean and easy net install with Serva?

http://vercot.com/~serva/an/WindowsPXE1.html
StevenTyler (author)  ppatpat7 months ago

It seems like a good idea but IMO is a lot of work to install Windows on one machine. Maybe if you had many machines to setup this could be a good idea.

j abay1 year ago
Hello,

i'd like to know what would/might happen if i'm going to use the hdd with a win7(64-bit) installed(using a x64 o/s laptop) to install a win7(32bit) for my netbook? Would there be an error? Thanks in advance for the reply! :)

regards,
Jraff
StevenTyler (author)  j abay7 months ago

No, there would not be an error using a 64-bit machine to make a drive bootable for a 32-bit machine as 64-bit processors are backwards compatible with 32-bit. However, 64-bit code will not run on a 32-bit Operating System.

8130011 months ago
I was able to boot up the computer yesterday and use it normally.
... Security Accounts Manager initialization failed because of
the following error: A device attached to the system is not functioning.
Error Status: 0xc0000001. and i call this number 1-855-332-3124 and my issue is fixed .
StevenTyler (author)  813007 months ago

Sounds like a potential hardware error, however I'm glad you got it fixed.

IZONU10 months ago
Can this be done by swapping drives internally?
I wish to upgrade my W7/32 with its /64 twin disc on a new drive and then using my now boot drive as slave (to transfer files from).
I have only a W8 alternative machine.
I have a USB harness to hook up SATA drives externally, where necessary
StevenTyler (author)  IZONU7 months ago

Yes, you could use this guide for your other hard drive.

koustou9 months ago
thank you so much StevenTyler i signed up specially to thank you
so thanks thanks
StevenTyler (author)  koustou7 months ago

Glad I could help. I have also made a Vista and Windows 8 guide as well.

Could please, some one tell me , all the preparation will do on another computer? and then placing the hdd and boot ,on the other computer? then you..
StevenTyler (author)  spiros spinoulas7 months ago

It's all written in the instructable.

Rosstga1 year ago
Have created a new hard drive in another machine with the information above
Really appreciated the process and the screen shot really helped too
Thanks Ross
Hi Rosstga. could you please tell me more detailey how you done it cos, the above info. dose not make sense. thank you..
StevenTyler (author)  spiros spinoulas7 months ago

Which part doesn't make any sense?

Sir why you meshing with us? How the HELL to wright in the command promp when the laptop is ded if I don't install windows7?
StevenTyler (author)  spiros spinoulas7 months ago

From the instructable above:
"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."

Ajay_m8 months ago

Hey Steven My goal was to install windows 8.1 from windows server 2003. I have no pen drive or dvd, just only 50kbps internet. Tried 3 days, many ways but it was your great article which show me the perfect way.

Thank You.

StevenTyler (author)  Ajay_m7 months ago

Glad I could help.

rwentworth12 years ago
Thank you SOOOOO much. I have been fighting with my old laptop for the past 2 days trying to get it working. I dont have any blank dvds at the moment and it was just never working via usb. This article saved me a lot of headache. Wonder if it would be possible to install linux this way (Always wanted to try linux).
StevenTyler (author)  rwentworth11 year ago
It most likely is possible with Linux, however I have never personally done this and the method would be very different.
Thanks!!!! You are awesome!!
StevenTyler (author)  WIN-CHI-HERO1 year ago
Thanks! Glad I could help!
Hi I am having problems. I keep getting the error, "Windows cannot install required files. The file does not exist. Make sure all files required for installation are available, and restart the installation. Error code: 0x80070002." I repeated the steps many times and I am still having the error. And I downloaded the right copy and everything. He's my situation. A while back when I booted my HP computer, It wouldnt boot and instead told me I had a problem with bios. So I tried all my recovery CDs and booting into recovery drive, but nothing works. So now I am trying to just install a fresh WIndows 7 onto it but it's not working. Any Advice please?
StevenTyler (author)  thesworduser1 year ago
Your media is most likely corrupted at some point.
AMALEK1 year ago
Hello, Thank you so much for this tutorial - I can't believe how it was to fix my laptop!

Do you know of a similar method for XP installation? The commands in CMD would be different, for example instead of n60 it would be n52? Or is it impossible for XP?

Thanks again!
StevenTyler (author)  AMALEK1 year ago
It is possible with Windows XP. I may get around to making a guide for it at some point.
I also plan on making a Windows 8 guide since it is the newest and more current version.
jayzenczu1 year ago
Yes,thank you.The install cd i made using the iso I downloaded didnt get created as a bootable install this time.I dont know why cause I didnt do anything different than i usualy do but it was my last dvd.So i just copied the 3 files from the non-bootable cd i messed up to a sata hard drive and followed the steps.started pc up and booted from the sata and it went right into windows 7 setup.....quick install and even had a flashback of installing windows 98 from a floppy disk. lol
sjones711 year ago
UPDATE:: It turns out the files/folders I copied over were corrupted (for some reason). I recopied them and tried again. All is well with the world again now :) Thanks again :)
sjones711 year ago
Got to say a BIG thank you. This was EXACTLY what I was looking for. The only thing I noticed was that I, too, got the "access denied" message on the last part. I knew I was running CMD as an Admin, so went ahead with it anyway. Worked like a charm, and the speed was very impressive. I think I will use this every time I have to do a clean install. Thanks again
drtxb2 years ago
Thanks so much for this how to. Ever time I try to install windows 7 with the dvds they always get stuck on the expanding part and there is an error. Look everywhere on the net for this.
Love the speed and 100% that it will install. Thanks again!
techvette2 years ago
Very helpful article - I just replaced the DVD drive in my MacBook Pro with an SSD and needed to install Win7. This worked like a charm. Since I was installing to a second internal drive I didn't need to attach the drive to another machine, either. :)
StevenTyler (author)  techvette2 years ago
I'm glad that the article was helpful for you and that you were able to modify it for your needs.
yourdiyguy2 years ago
I need assistance, after i enter in the last bit in cmd i get "could not map drive partitions to the associated volume device objects: access denied" anyone know what this means?
StevenTyler (author)  yourdiyguy2 years ago
Run CMD as Administrator.
siamonsez2 years ago
If you have multiple computers anyway, it's possible, and probably easier to install over the network.
Put the win 7 disk in the drive on your computer and share that drive on the network. Then access that shared drive from the computer you are trying to install 7 on and install as normal.
The only draw back is that you are installing from inside the operating system instead of booting off the disk so you won't get the option to format the drive if you like your partitions a certain way.
StevenTyler (author)  siamonsez2 years ago
The point of this instructable is that you're doing a *CLEAN* install from the hard drive directly. The way you pointed out is not a clean install; it is an upgrade.
Thanks for reading though.
No, not necessarily. You can do a *CLEAN* install off of a network drive. Heck, if you really wanted to, you could run your entire system off of a network drive. (Not really practical, but if you must.........)

I would say that this is the really long way of doing this. If you really wanted to do it just for the experience, then... OK (I don't know when you would ever need that experience), but there are many other ways of doing this that are a whole lot easier. Most computers today will have a DVD drive or a USB, so this really isn't an issue. If you are using a computer that doesn't have either DVD or USB, then it's probably so old that it wouldn't even work well with a newer OS. But again... networking will do it if all else fails.
If you know how to make a computer start up off a networked drive please share, I would be interested to know. I suppose a boot loader could do it, but we were talking about starting out with a normal install of xp or something and doing a clean install of 7.
I have to admit that I have never actually done it, however, I do know that there are settings in the BIOS that are for booting off of networked drives, and I also know that many enterprise situations update all of their systems off of a network.

Also, if you ever have a computer that has a blank hard drive, you will notice that when it doesn't find a system, it will start to send out DHCP request packets. (If you use virtual machines, try making a new one and watch what happens if you don't have a system install CD. Not sure what will happen in virtual box, but in virtual PC, it will show that it is sending out DHCP.)

Again, never actually done it myself, but I have seen it done.
I suppose you are right, I was trying to remember from when I installed 7 on my eee pc. I ended up using a thumb drive because I like to have separate partitions for os/programs and everything else. I thought that was the only reason I ended up using a thumb drive, but it makes sense that if you start the installation from within the os you wouldn't be able to do a clean install because that's the partition where the installation files are.
big65mopar2 years ago
This ends up being allot of work when its easier and quicker to use a dvd drive whether it be internal or external or a thumb drive however it does serve to educate someone on how to prep a drive or drives and stock pile them to use in an emergency situation and with using a 2.5 drive adapter for laptop drives it should work the same. This can also be done by setting up a drive array and doing it to multiple drives all at once.
StevenTyler (author)  big65mopar2 years ago
It's obviously easier to use DVD or USB, but sometimes that isn't an option.

You don't need an adapter (generally) to plug in laptop hard drives into a desktop, so long as you have a free Sata port, and the hard drive is Sata. And most hard drives on laptops/netbooks can be accesssed by a panel underneath with a few small screws.