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Create a Windows 10 USB Bootable Flash Drive (Updated)

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.

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67 Responses to Create a Windows 10 USB Bootable Flash Drive (Updated)

  1. Paul Braren October 9, 2014 at 7:21 am #

    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 December 2, 2015 at 6:48 am #

      Perfect! Thanks.

    • Petes April 13, 2016 at 5:44 pm #

      BIOS does not detect the drive 🙁

      • jiggman May 2, 2016 at 3:40 pm #

        make sure your using the correct partition scheme.

  2. shockersh October 9, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

    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 October 11, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

    Windows 10 works fine in VMware player.

  4. Ron Lund October 11, 2014 at 4:22 pm #

    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 October 19, 2014 at 11:03 am #

      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 January 28, 2016 at 9:45 am #

        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 October 14, 2015 at 7:33 am #

      “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 November 23, 2015 at 1:43 pm #

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

    • fred April 2, 2016 at 2:07 am #

      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 October 20, 2014 at 1:53 pm #

    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 October 20, 2014 at 2:28 pm #

    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 November 5, 2014 at 6:50 am #

    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 November 5, 2014 at 6:52 am #

    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 November 5, 2014 at 1:30 pm #

    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 December 8, 2014 at 11:18 pm #

    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 January 3, 2015 at 9:18 pm #

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

  12. zarah January 5, 2015 at 4:07 am #

    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 January 6, 2015 at 1:51 pm #

    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 January 6, 2015 at 2:20 pm #

      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 January 6, 2015 at 2:31 pm #

    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 January 6, 2015 at 3:55 pm #

    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 January 29, 2015 at 10:49 am #

    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 January 31, 2015 at 11:25 am #

    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. Aamir lehri April 21, 2015 at 8:33 am #

    Windows 10 is the best among all the previous versions

  19. Arup Ghosh May 29, 2015 at 12:39 am #

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

  20. MSR July 1, 2015 at 11:28 am #

    00:03:21 – Windows 10 @ USB 3.0

  21. Jim Baker July 21, 2015 at 8:05 am #

    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 July 27, 2015 at 5:04 pm #

    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. rais safdar July 28, 2015 at 3:57 am #

    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 July 31, 2015 at 12:58 am #

    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 July 31, 2015 at 10:48 pm #

    Usb 3.0 took 1.47 Min to complete!!!!

    • Steve Krause August 1, 2015 at 10:49 pm #

      Wow…. Not bad at all. Impressive. Which USB drive do you have?

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