Thumb drives have evolved from storage devices into installation media sources. Operating systems may be installed to computers with defective or no optical drives and netbooks using these devices. Here’s a guide on how to prepare a USB stick and use it to install Windows 7.

First, we’ll be needing a 4-GB thumb drive for our installer and the DiskPart utility. If you’re going to prepare your thumb drive using a Windows 7 system, DiskPart is already present in your system. If not, you may download it from Microsoft’s Download Center. If you already have these, plug in your thumb drive and we’ll start the prep process.

1. Launch DiskPart. Press Windows key + R to open the Run command, type diskpart, and press Enter.
2. On the prompt, type list disk to check your existing drives and their status.
3. Type in select disk #. Replace the hash (octothorpe) with the number that indicates your thumb drive. Check size column to be sure.
4. Type clean. This removes existing partitions.
5. We’ll now create a new partition on the drive by typing create partition primary.
6. Set the partition to be active by typing active.
7. Type format fs=fat32 quick to quick format the partition into Fat32.
8. Load your Windows 7 installation disc and copy all its contents to your thumb drive.

Your thumb drive is now a bootable installer of Windows 7. On a target machine, plug in the thumb drive and make sure the system boots from it and proceed to the installation.

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