How-To

Create a Windows 10 USB Bootable Flash Drive (Updated)

usb-stick-boot-windows

Here’s a look at using the utility called Rufus to create a bootable USB flash drive for Windows 10 which is actually much faster than Microsoft’s tool.

Usually, when we cover creating bootable USB drives for Windows, we recommend the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool (time to update that name Microsoft), but I’ve had some problems creating one and started looking for a different option.

So this time around, I thought I would try the free utility called Rufus. Here’s a look at using it, and in the end, I had a faster experience using it than the older Microsoft tool.

Update 7/29/2015 (Windows 10 Day): To get the ISO for the official release of Windows 10, head to this Microsoft page and download the 64 or 32-bit version of the media creation tool. It will allow you to upgrade your Windows 7 SP 1 or Windows 8.1 PC, or download the ISO to use later for a clean install.

For more on that, read our article: How To Download Windows 10 ISO for a Clean Install

Create Windows 10 Technical Preview USB Drive

First of all, make sure you download the Windows 10 Technical Preview by joining the Windows Insider Program as explained in this article. Also, make sure you’re using a USB drive that is at least 4 GB for the 32-bit version and 8 GB for the 64-bit version.

One of the first cool things about Rufus is that no installation is necessary, which means you can stick it on a network location, or another external drive to run it. When you run it, setting it up is simple. Select the USB drive you want to use, select your partition scheme – it’s worth noting that Rufus also supports a bootable UEFI drive.

Then select the disc icon next to the ISO drop-down and navigate to the location of your official Windows 10 ISO.

Rufus

After that click Start and you should be good to go, within minutes. If you want to be extra careful, check the option to check device for bad blocks. I didn’t do that, and my bootable drive turned out fine.

Rufus Creating Bootable Drive

In my experience, using the older USB 2.0 port and drive, it took less than five minutes to create the drive. If you use a USB 3.0 set up, I would love to know how fast that works!

Anyway, after it’s created, you can go ahead and install the Windows 10 Technical Preview on a spare computer.

Let us know what you think of this tool over Microsoft’s Windows 7 USB/DVD Tool, for me; I am going to continue to use Rufus – at least until Microsoft updates or recreates a new utility – if it does at all.

And yes, of course, you can use this to create other versions of Windows or a Linux distros from an ISO you can.


77 Comments

77 Comments

  1. Hi Brian, it took under 2 minutes when I tried Rufus for Windows 8, using USB 3.0, works great, as seen on video:
    http://TinkerTry.com/rufus-takes-2-minutes-to-create-a-bootable-usb-flash-drive-for-esxi-installation

    Glad you confirmed Rufus still works nicely with Windows 10, and it sure is good to find somebody making quality freeware!

    Rufus works great for folks that use VMware ESXi as well, where the bootable USB media becomes your install target too:
    http://TinkerTry.com/rufus-takes-2-minutes-to-create-a-bootable-usb-flash-drive-for-esxi-installation

    • Murat  

      Perfect! Thanks.

    • Petes  

      BIOS does not detect the drive 🙁

      • jiggman  

        make sure your using the correct partition scheme.

        • biggman  

          i’m on to you jiggman. ever since you started using my partition scheme i’ve been tracking you. i’m down to a margin of error of 3 kilometres and i’ll be improving that soon.

    • Nilesh  

      do i need to format the flash drive ?
      can i use the flash drive for normal purposes after flashing an iso file?

      • Fredo  

        absolutely!
        I create my drives and put the software I need when I’m on the go. Just grab a big enough usb drive and you’re good to go.

  2. shockersh  

    Awesome! I’m just not brave enough yet to install Windows 10 yet. Looks like I’ll be dumping it onto a VM this week.

  3. David Dixon  

    Windows 10 works fine in VMware player.

  4. Ron Lund  

    Brian,

    I’m using Rufus to create the bootable USB drive for this Windows 10 installation and I elected to use the “check device for bad blocks” option and it’s taking forever to create the drive. It’s been running now for over an hour and it’s only about 1/8 the way across the progress bar. Not sure why it’s taking so damned long. But, I’m gonna be patient. Not sure yet whether or not I’m really going to install Win 10 on this laptop I have. I have the laptop set up for a dual boot with Linux Mint17 and Win Vista and I don’t really want to lose the Linux installation when I install Win 10. Any comments about this??? Don’t really care about the Vista one.

    • David  

      Since linux uses a different kind of format then windows the only way to install windows over it is to purposefuly delete the linux partition when installing so you should be good just to install 10 over vista.

      • Rishabh Patadia  

        it happened to me i had to manually format the partitionfrom bio sthen reset bios and then boot from dvd to install windows

    • Jim Smith  

      “check device for bad blocks” is what takes the time. the application must read and write data to every block on the flash drive, the larger the flash drive the longer it takes. Just start it and let it go.

    • Bob  

      Um, coz it’s probably checking each sector for bad blocks as you instructed it. This does take ages.

    • fred  

      when it is checking for ‘bad blocks’, it is checking that every byte on the drive is working correctly. There is no need to use this unless you want to make sure that every piece of the drive is working.

  5. Ron Lund  

    David…….because I had booted up this computer of mine into Win Vista (even though I also had Linux Mint 17 installed under a dual boot setup) that it’s not possible to just replace Vista with the Win 10 trial and you think if I remove Linux then I will be able to do that? I’m not sure I really want to do that though. Maybe if I can figure out how to save the Linux Mint 17 installation somehow so I can go back to it if I want to later then I’ll give it a try. Time to do some research on that possibility. Thanks for your comment. I was kinda convinced it was just not going to be possible to install the trial evaluation of Win 10 on a Vista machine, but now it might still be an option.

  6. Ron Lund  

    David……OK I wasn’t aware of that …..even though I had booted up the computer under Win Vista…. that you think the Linux installation is interfering with me trying to do the Win 10 USB boot? I just assumed that I was going to be able to keep my Linux Mint 17 installation and replace Vista. So….If I can figure out how to back up the Linux installation so I could reinstall it later I might remove it to give Win 10 a try. Time to research that at the Linux website. Thanks for your comments.

  7. PDK  

    I don’t recommend the “check for bad blocks” option. I have a usb3.0 flash drive and it is 36% completed after 20 minutes. Simple math says that will be 2 hours to complete the check.

    If you only have one computer and one drive to install Win10 to and are taking a one way trip upgrading your current OS, then maybe you need to make certain your flash drive is 100% error free. Otherwise, if you are installing to a partition, to a second drive, to a secondary computer, to VM, etc., don’t do the block check. Worst that happens you will have to start over. But starting fresh would still take less time than completing the block check.

  8. PDK  

    BTW, Rufus says “Cancelling may leave the device in an UNUSABLE state.” Not wanting to brick a flash drive, I am now completing the block check. Probably okay to cancel it, but I’m not in a hurry.

  9. VISHAL KHANNA  

    Dear Sir
    thanks a lot of your Sir for this .biy when i install win 10 tp it asks for the keys and when i enter the keys provided by the microsoft on their downloading page it says we would not …………….i mean it is not installing on my laptop/ and i have win 7 32 bit.plz help me sir.i will be highly obliged to you.thanks

  10. Peter  

    Great tutorial! As far as I know, currently there are only two freeware: Rufus and ISO2Disc (http://www.top-password.com/iso2disc.html), which supports making UEFI / GPT bootable disk from ISO image.

  11. Mark  

    Using a USB 3.0 flash drive for the 64bit version it took 3 minutes and 35 seconds. 😉

  12. zarah  

    if you extract windows 10 split iso into usb then it will be working you can get split files here
    http://fullfreeversion.com/windows-10-download-iso/

  13. H Arment  

    I’m not sure I understand what exactly this does. Does it create a flashdrive that I can boot and run Windows 10 from or does it just create a bootable flash drive to use for installing Windows 10 on other computers?

    • Ron Lund  

      H Arment…….. Initially, I thought that it just created a bootable flash drive to run Win 10 from, but it actually installs it. I say this because I pulled out the flash drive I used and cranked up the computer without it and Win 10 started up and ran just like it had done previously. So……not sure what’s going to happen with this installation once the evaluation period is over and MS releases their final build…….probably have to give them a bunch of money or forfeit my installation. I would guess.

      I have only run Win 7 previously, but so far I’m pretty satisfied with my Win 10 experience.

  14. H Arment  

    Thanks Ron. I don’t care to get rid of my Win 7 install so I was looking for something that I could run the Win 10 TR from without having to install it over my Win 7 setup. Guess I will have to keep looking.

    HLA

  15. Ron Lund  

    What you “can” do is learn about how to set up a dual boot system. I did this with an old desktop I had Win 7 on, but wanted to learn about Linux systems. I ended up able to have a dual boot set up that gave me the choice at startup as to which operating system I wanted to use. This will probably take some serious research and learning, however, to get it properly set up, but it’s all out there on the Internet.

  16. Anselmo Fernandes  

    This Rufus tool is soo much better than the windows version. It free, doesn’t require an install and it small in size. Can’t wait to try out window 10. It looks awesome.

  17. FreezeGame  

    Hello Brian,

    Thanks for introducing me to Rufus. It works amazingly, which makes it my new “go to” bootable USB tool.

    FYI, using a SanDisk Extreme 64 GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive (SDCZ80-064G-X46), it took a total of 45 seconds to complete the process for the most recent public release (Windows10_TechnicalPreview_x64_EN-US_9926.iso).

    http://goo.gl/RsQUGL

  18. Windows 10 is the best among all the previous versions

  19. Thanks for the simple and awesome guide for creating Windows 10 bootable flash drive.

  20. MSR  

    00:03:21 – Windows 10 @ USB 3.0

  21. Jim Baker  

    When you say “At _least_ 8GB” does that mean _useable_ space or just the nominal space as in “This is an 8GB USB stick”. The ‘8GB’ USB stick that I have actually has only 7.8 or so useable.

  22. andrej770  

    This utility does not work on any of the 256GB SD Cards I have. I boot Windows 8.1 from a USB drive with a 256GB SD card, but rufus does not see this 256GB SD card for some reason, NTFS (PNY)

  23. thanks dude. it really helps me. i got an offer for free window 10 full version. it will download at 29 july and i want to make a bootable dvd of window 10. you helped me bro. again thanks

  24. Lukas  

    Hi, great tutorial, just wonder about NTFS file system for the bootable flash drive. Could it be really NTFS (usually FAT32) and does it boot smoothly?

  25. Justin  

    Usb 3.0 took 1.47 Min to complete!!!!

  26. Hi, you asked about USB 3 speeds.

    Using rufus and a 32GB Sandisk Extreme Stick it took 1.5 minutes to
    to copy to the stick.

  27. Awesome tutorials.. I will try this to install win10 to my PC
    Thankyou

  28. Mike D  

    Hello Brain;

    I have gotten a Windows 10 Pro – RESTORE SET – (lenovo sent me 4 dvds) today. That kinda suprised me – as the LAPTOP I bought from them (ordered direct from lenovo) DOES NOT HAVE A DVD player on it.
    So I called tech support and they told me to use the WIN10 USB tool ; and also referred me to your website – to use your tool; to make a BOOTABLE USB.

    However; its like the “chicken & egg” situtation here > I need a dvd player to FIRST CREATE an ‘iso’ image. There after I can load using your tool( or MS one) to the USB ….(that info I feel i gotten right> pls correct me if am NOT!)

    so to my question:
    Lenovo seems to have sent me 4 DVDs with Windows 10 Pro – that uses their OWN tool(s) to ‘expand each dvd to a temp area and then > install using some kinda script etc …….

    a) How do I CREATE an ‘iso” from these Dvds?
    b) pls help me with any way around to install Win10 Pro ( on this laptop that boots to an error = windows cannot load correctly”) from factory Dvds supplied (when no laptop dont have any dvd players.?

    please help?

    My only option is RETURN for REFUND (dont that with 3 other laptop so far) > maybe i should give up @[email protected] lol
    Thanks in advance

    • @Mike D

      This article explains how to make ISO images from DVDs:

      https://www.groovypost.com/howto/convert-dvd-to-iso-image/

    • RetroTech  

      Mike, It might be mutch easier for you to get an external USB DVD Writer drive, they are not expensive.

      First restore your system using the restore DVD’s you have by booting from the external drive.

      Once your system is fully installed, and setup how you like it.

      You can then use disk image backup software like Acronis Trueimage to make a full image of your system.

      You can then use YUMI multiboot creator to make a bootable Acronis recovery stick.

      This way you can restore a full image of your drive in minutes directly from a usb stick.

    • Eseris  

      You can download/create an ISO image using the Media Creation Tool that Microsoft provides. From there, you can use Rufus to make a USB drive your bootable device.

      • Retro  

        The media creation tool does not work with manufacturers recovery disc sets they are specific to the manufacturer and not recognised as microsoft iso’s.

  29. Frank  

    Coooool!!!! Thanks

  30. Thomas  

    May be it has worked with the Windows 10 preview.
    But yesterday I downloaded the Windows 10 final 64 bit in english and Rufus fails to copy it on my USB stick: ISO image extraction failure.

  31. I use easy2boot. It’s great. All I need to do is copy the 32bit, 64bit, home and pro isos in the windows 10 folder! No need to bother extracting anything.

    • With YUMI you dont need to extract the iso, it does it for you.

      Just select OS from the drop down box.

      But remember installing this way takes mutch longer than making an image.

      One you have a clean install just make an image and then just re image from usb
      this method takes few minutes.

      Rather than 20 mins or more with windows installer.

  32. Ashley  

    There is a text file you can drop onto the USB that contains your serial key. This saves you having to enter they when you are installing. I just can’t remember the filename or the format.

  33. Dartgux  

    worked great. with windows media creation tool would not detect my cruiser mini

  34. Diego Rico  

    Thx! I’ll tri right now!

  35. works for me thanq very much

  36. Néstor  

    Sorry but rufus doesn’t detect any device, neither simple USB or HDD via USB

  37. Dipesh  

    Thanks, it helped a lot.

  38. upeksha  

    it says that “Error: iso image extraction failure”

    It would be a really great help if someone can help me with this 🙁

    In the log:

    Using image: en_windows_10_education_version_1511_x64_dvd_7223856.iso

    Format operation started
    Requesting disk access…
    Opened drive \\.\PHYSICALDRIVE2 for write access
    Will use ‘G:’ as volume mountpoint
    I/O boundary checks disabled
    Analyzing existing boot records…
    Drive has a Rufus Master Boot Record
    Volume has an unknown Partition Boot Record
    Deleting partitions…
    Clearing MBR/PBR/GPT structures…
    Erasing 128 sectors
    Partitioning (MBR)…
    Closing existing volume…
    Waiting for logical drive to reappear…
    Formatting (NTFS)…
    Using cluster size: 4096 bytes
    Quick format was selected
    Creating file system…
    Format completed.
    Writing master boot record…
    Drive has a Zeroed Master Boot Record
    Set bootable USB partition as 0x80
    Using Rufus MBR
    Found volume GUID \\?\Volume{84858c4d-39b2-11e5-825d-eca86ba9075b}\
    Opened drive \\?\Volume{84858c4d-39b2-11e5-825d-eca86ba9075b} for write access
    Writing partition boot record…
    Using Standard NTFS partition boot record
    Confirmed new volume has an NTFS boot sector
    Successfully remounted Volume{84858c4d-39b2-11e5-825d-eca86ba9075b}\ on G:\
    Copying ISO files…
    Extracting files…
    Image is an UDF image
    Extracting: G:\autorun.inf (128 bytes)
    Extracting: G:\boot\bcd (16 KB)
    Extracting: G:\boot\boot.sdi (3 MB)
    Extracting: G:\boot\bootfix.bin (1 KB)
    Extracting: G:\boot\bootsect.exe (109.3 KB)
    Extracting: G:\boot\en-us\bootsect.exe.mui (16.5 KB)
    Error reading UDF file /boot/en-us/bootsect.exe.mui

    Found USB device ‘Multiple Flash Reader USB Device’ (????:????)
    Device eliminated because it appears to contain no media
    Found USB 2.0 device ‘Kingston DT 101 G2 USB Device’ (0951:1642)
    Found USB 2.0 device ‘StoreJet Transcend USB Device’ (174C:5106)
    NOTE: This device is an USB 3.0 device operating at lower speed…
    Device eliminated because it was detected as an USB Hard Drive (score 16 > 0)
    If this device is not an USB Hard Drive, please e-mail the author of this application
    NOTE: You can enable the listing of USB Hard Drives in ‘Advanced Options’ (after clicking the white triangle)
    Found USB 2.0 device ‘Generic- Compact Flash USB Device’ (058F:6363)
    Device eliminated because it appears to contain no media
    1 device found
    Disk type: Removable, Sector Size: 512 bytes
    Cylinders: 941, TracksPerCylinder: 255, SectorsPerTrack: 63
    Partition type: MBR, NB Partitions: 1
    Disk ID: 0x002F1E8F
    Drive has a Rufus Master Boot Record
    Partition 1:
    Type: NTFS (0x07)
    Size: 7.2 GB (7746349056 bytes)
    Start Sector: 2048, Boot: Yes, Recognized: Yes

  39. Brian,

    Just a note of thanks. Rufus worked great for me today. I used it exactly as you suggested on a Windows 7 system. Input was the 3 gb Windows.iso file created by the MSFT media creation tool. Rufus’s bootable image output file fit onto a 4 gb USB flash drive. I used that as a boot file to create a clean brand new install of Windows 10 on one of my ssd’s (in order to play around with Win10 to see if I really want it.) I’m angy that MSFT seems to be forcing this consumer-level software onto it’s business users, who prefer Win7.

    Thanks, Bob

  40. sks  

    my usb is not booting ecerything done well with rufus . but when in boot time cursor is blonkong only not going to set up or showing press anynkey to boot …

  41. Feeso  

    Thanks it works perfectly. I upgraded to win10 from a 32 bit win7, so I got a 32 bit win 10 and I’ve got a couple of programms that don’t wanna install on a 32 bit OS so I’ve been searching all day for a way to do a fresh installation of win10 using a flash drive so I could install the 64bit version which I downloaded using the media creationc tool because I didn’t have a dvd to write the .iso file on. With Rufus all it took was just 1 button. No cmd and all that complicated stuff.

  42. A debt of gratitude is in order for the basic and wonderful aide for making Windows 10 bootable Flash drive. Admin you rocks thanks for this great share.

  43. Does it work with Remix OS

  44. mat  

    thank you for this

    usb flash drive option from Microsoft failed and this worked

  45. Gaurav S  

    It took 22 minutes to complete the formatting of a Transcend USB 2.0 on a USB3.0 interface.

  46. joshua sulwer  

    6:20 seconds on USB 3.0 well running star craft 2 map editor and chrome, on an intel core 2 duo w 2 g of ram. I suspect it would be a lot faster with a faster computer and IDK if mine even has usb 3.0 built in to the computer side, I just know the stick is usb 3.0. This san disk is a lot better than the cheap one I got on ebay that has 128gigabytes for 10 bucks but only worked once which was just enough to eat up important data and then loose it…

  47. gabriel  

    guys i need some help having some errors when i try this rufus
    will post them later

  48. It was somehow good but there are various ways to create a bootable USB for Windows10 or any other versions.

    Again thanks for sharing this guide.

  49. Terry Cummings  

    Does anyone know if it is possible to jump from Windows XP to Windows 10 or must I jump to 7 or 8 before going to 10.

  50. justin  

    hey can i use this for a new pc no os installed and also do i need the Windows 10 Technical Preview

  51. Nihanth  

    i am getting error as requesting disk access…

  52. Jim Caldwell  

    I already have a WIN 10 computer. How do I dual boot a Win XP OS? I have a partition ready for this.

  53. thanks man for this million dollor info

  54. Nice software thank you for sharing..

  55. Such a great info

  56. olusegun  

    Hello Brian,
    I am not necessarily expert. I use rufus to prepare the memory card 8gig, then use the window media creation tool to create the bootable stick. I put the stick on the laptop I want toboot press F12 and it take me to where I can choose the usb. I did and Winnow show dell logo, and boot to blank screen. Please advise

  57. Spidey  

    Just today tried Rufus for creating bootable USB for installing win XP, as the traditional win 7 USB tool is not considering XP ISO as proper one. Will try to install and let you all know how it went…

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