How to Make a Bootable USB Key

by Jacob Stover

If you've ever encountered a catastrophic system failure that left your computer unable to boot, you know the frustration of even beginning to work on a fix. A non-booting computer is probably the worst problem your everyday computer user can encounter, but thankfully it is easier to fix than you might imagine. With the use of a bootable USB key you can boot to a fresh system install and get your computer back in action. In reality, a bootable USB key is nothing more than a regular USB flash drive that has been specially formatted with the correct structure and data to boot independently. Thanks to a free program from Microsoft, you can make your own in less than half an hour.

Navigate to the Windows ISO Tool Download link located in the resources section of this article.

Download the most recent revision of the ISO tool for your operating system

Install the ISO tool to your local hard drive.

Open the Start Menu and select the "Windows USB/DVD Download Tool" from the list of installed programs.

Click "Browse" next to the "Source File" box, and select your Windows 7 Disc Image, or installation CD.

Select "USB Device," then locate the USB drive you will be turning into a bootable USB key from the drop-down menu.

Click "Begin Copying" to start the copying process. When the process has completed, your USB drive will be properly set up to boot from.


  • check Depending on your computer, you may need to adjust your BIOS boot priority. This can be done by entering the BIOS menu during your system start-up. Instructions vary by manufacture, so check your user manual or the manufacturer's website for more details.

Items you will need

About the Author

Jacob Stover is a writer and editor from Ann Arbor. He has been writing professionally since 2009. His work has been published in the "Wayne State University Literary Review." He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and film studies from Wayne State University.