To reinstall Windows, or install the OS on a new system, we will need a Windows installation disc. If we don't have one, it's quick, easy, and free to create a Windows installation disc or USB from a Windows ISO, using either Microsoft programs or free third-party applications.
- 1 Download the Windows version of your choice
- 2 How to create a Windows installation USB Flash Drive
- 3 How to create a Windows installation disc
- 4 How to boot our PC with the Windows installation disc or USB
- 5 Do you prefer other methods of creating a Windows installation disc or USB?
Download the Windows version of your choice
This guide requires that we already have a Windows ISO. You can get one for the latest versions of Windows through the following guides:
- Download Windows 7 ISOs, Legally and for Free
- Download Windows 8.1 ISOs, Legally & Free from Microsoft
- Download Windows 10 ISO, The Final Version, For Free
How to create a Windows installation USB Flash Drive
CDs and DVD aren't dead yet, but it is only a matter of time. USB Flash drives have a smaller size, larger capacity, faster speeds, and they are impervious to scratches.
So, why bother to create a Windows installation disc, when we can have a Windows installation USB? Provided our motherboard's BIOS can boot from USB, of course.
Rufus: The fastest way to create a Windows Installation USB
There are a lot of programs that can create a Windows Installation USB from an ISO. Rufus is one of the best. We will find the latest version at:
The program's interface seems a bit cluttered, but it's simple.
To create a Windows installation USB we just need to make sure that our USB flash drive is in the "Device" field, and that it has a capacity of at least 4GB.
If we use a Windows 10 ISO that has both x86 and x64 versions together, we will need an 8GB thumb drive.
For a Windows 7 installation USB, the MBR partition scheme for BIOS or UEFI is enough.
If we are installing Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 on a UEFI system with a GPT disk, we must select a "GPT partition scheme for UEFI".
After that, we click on the disc icon and choose the ISO image.
Rufus will automatically change the File system to NTFS, which is a prerequisite for creating a Windows installation USB, and also change the volume label to ESD-ISO.
We don't need to do anything special to make the USB bootable. If we used the Microsoft/Digital River ISOs, it would be bootable by default.
Finally, we click "Start". Rufus will warn us that it will destroy any data already on the flash drive.
If we have no data on the USB flash, or we don't care about the files, we go ahead with "OK".
Depending on the speed of the thumb drive and the USB version, the Windows installation USB will take a few minutes to prepare.
With an old and slow USB 2.0 drive, the process took more than 23 minutes.
Using a fast USB 3.0 drive, with the same ISO on the same system, we were done in about two and a half minutes.
It's a good idea to remove the USB safely, to minimize any chance of corruption. Corrupted data is never fun, but it's especially bad on a Windows installation USB.
How to create a Windows installation disc
If we have an old motherboard on our PC, it is possible that it can't boot from USB. In that case, a Windows installation disc is the most compatible solution.
What's best is that Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10 can create a Windows installation disc from an ISO without any third-party programs.
We just need to right-click on the ISO and select the "Burn disc image" option.
Then, it's just a matter of selecting our DVD-R drive - in which we should have an empty DVD-R or DVD-RW - and click on "Burn".
We can optionally check the "Verify disc after burning" checkbox, to make sure the Windows installation disc was created correctly and with no corruptions or any other problems.
As with the USB, we don't need to do anything special for the DVD to be bootable. With the official ISOs, it will be bootable by default.
How to boot our PC with the Windows installation disc or USB
For detailed instructions on how to boot from the Windows installation medium, check out our guide:
How To Change the Boot Order to Boot from USB or DVD on BIOS - UEFI
Do you prefer other methods of creating a Windows installation disc or USB?
There are many apps we can use to create a bootable USB or burn the Windows ISO to DVD.
If you prefer some other applications, leave us a comment, to help the rest of our readers with their choice.