Install Windows Vista Directly From Hard Drive – NO DVD or USB Needed!

About: Not even a fan of Aerosmith, it's just a username.

How to CLEAN Install Windows Vista directly from Hard drive – NO DVD or USB needed!!

For example, you have a netbook or desktop that you want to install Windows Vista 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 is for Windows Vista only, though the guide for Windows 7 and 8 is extremely similar.  Check out my Windows 7 and Windows 8 guide if that applies to you.

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Preparing the HD With Windows Vista 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 Vista disc or ISO:


Step 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 Vista disc, you can copy bootsect.exe from that and replace the 64-bit one (boot\bootsect.exe).

Step 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” screen and setup will load (really fast, too, because it's loading from the hard drive).

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.  (See picture for example) When this comes up, type the following:

del C:\boot\bcd
bcdedit /createstore

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!).

Step 4: Final Steps/housecleaning

Delete the ‘Sources’ folder and “Windows.old” (if it exists) from your hard drive root (this will free up 2-3gb).

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

Be the First to Share


    • CNC Contest

      CNC Contest
    • Make it Move

      Make it Move
    • Teacher Contest

      Teacher Contest

    10 Discussions


    4 years ago

    Thank you for this guide, you helped me alot.

    I couldn't manage to open CMD prompt by holding CTRL, what I did was going through the installation until I got “A required CD/DVD drive device driver is missing” error. Then I pressed SHIFT+F10 that opend CMD, after the CMD opend I closed the installation and went back to the windows installer home screen before I delet \bcd and followed the rest of your guide... it might be helpful for some people..

    Thank you again.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I got it to work by holding CTRL as soon as I saw windows loading, and holding it through windows startup.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Hi Steven,

    First, thank you for this guide. I have one problem which is unfortunately in the extremely important step. For some reason I can't get the repair command prompt console. Holding the left CTRL button while the "Windows is loading files" screen shows, doesn't do anything. Any ideas?

    Thanks in advance!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Hi Steven, I have a Gateway GT5676 that had a Vista 32/64 disc
    & I had the store install the 32 ver.

    Last year I upgraded to Win 7 32. I just experienced a bad
    infection that has caused me to reinstall Win 7. My question is – can I go all
    the way back to vista and install the 64 version instead and then upgrade to
    Win 7 64? I have the original disk from Gateway (32/64) in the original sleeve
    with some numbers on it, that’s all I was given with the PC, plus I have the original
    Win 7 upgrade disks in 32 & 64.

    Your instructable on Vista indicates that I should be able
    to do that. Am I wrong?

    Thanks for any help you can provide.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Hey, I'm having some trouble with last step. When I select partition and make it active it says The selected disk is not a fixed basic MBR disk. Any advice?


    4 years ago on Introduction

    First - thanks - works a treat. I've refurbished an older lap top with no recovery disks and a second hand hard drive and it runs like a dream now.

    Only issue I had was using the hotkeys and enter to open CMD as administrator. On my 'host' machine it opens with restricted rights so it confused me for a moment (got it right third time). But all I did was click on the start globe, type cmd in the search box and CMD comes up as the first result. Right click on it and select 'run as administrator' and it's no longer an issue.

    Thanks again.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Has anyone experience of installing Linux with this method ?


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    The guide for Vista has an important step that you do not have to do when installing Windows 7 or 8. So no, it's not the same as the other guides if that is your question.