How To Install Windows 7 On USB Flash Drive

The Windows 7 operating system is currently the most widely installed operating system in the world. The operating system released close to 7 years ago is probably the most loved Windows operating system to date.

win7 logo

UPDATE: We recommend you follow the instructions in our latest how to install Windows 7 to USB external drive guide instead of this old guide for better instructions.

As you all know creating a bootable USB, or installing Windows 7 or Vista using USB is a piece of cake. It doesn’t take much time and effort to have a bootable USB. Now, after replaying to several e-mails about installing Windows 7 or Vista on a USB drive, I have decided to write this detailed guide.

Requirements to install Windows 7 on USB:

# An USB flash drive with a minimum of 6 GB disk space to install Windows 7 or Vista. You can use a 4 GB drive to install XP.

# Bootable Windows 7 USB or DVD.

# Free time

So let’s begin with the installing Windows 7 on USB procedure:

Step 1: First of all, connect your USB to the machine and backup all the data from the USB drive.

Step 2: Download VirtualBox portable, double-click on the executable file and extract the contents to your USB.

install windows 7 on usb

Step 3: Now, go to the VirtualBox portable folder in USB, and execute the Portable-VirtualBox (.exe) file.

Step 4: From here onwards, you need to follow the onscreen procedure to create a virtual disk and install Windows 7 on USB. Follow the install Windows 7 on VirtualBox guide to complete the process.

Step 5: Once you finish the installation process, you can safely close VirtualBox and remove your USB drive.

Step 6: You can now use this Windows 7 USB drive on any Windows machine that you want. To use Windows 7 on other machine, connect the Windows 7 USB, open USB drive, and run portable-VirtualBox file.



  1. Raj says

    I really wish google started putting such pages at the end of search result…. so useless

  2. Nishith says


    Just like Aamir, everything went so well and perfect but when I rebooted the PC from USB, it gave “BOOTMGR is missing ” error.

    Please help as this is urgent for me.

    I appreciate your efforts.


  3. Jozef says

    Hi, does any know a link to a tutorial for the following:

    How to make a USB drive for Booting and running Windows 7 from USB, on a system that doesn’t even have a hard drive, or has a defect hard drive.
    So just to be clear, prepare the whole installation on another PC, nad then plug the USB into the system with the defective drive, and boot from the USB and run it.

    Or if possible, directly install it to the USB drive, by booting from Win7 DVD, in the PC with the defect harddrive.

    Thanks in advance.

  4. emanuelle says

    crazy. i improved your tut to make the usb drive bootable too. Furthermore I did not install Virtualbox but copied several files from the win 7 disk. now i ONLY have to stick in USB and it fucking boots win 7. no other OS needed. I assume Microsoft don’t want us to give that freedom. I am in heaven now. Using Windows 7 completely dispersed my need for sex & food too. Heaven.

  5. Mincer says

    Stick to reading your conspiracy novels.
    The reason NASA didn’t use pencils is that they, unlike you, thought to themselves ‘what would happen to a shard of graphite broken off from the end of a pencil (as they do, often) in zero gravity? Answer: it floats around the cabin until it gets lodged in something important, at which point panic ensues’.
    As to your attempt to answer the post….
    ‘just run diskpart’ ????
    Ok, I typed ‘diskpart’ into command console – very little happened, except the command prompt changed to ‘DISKPART’.
    If you’re going to try and be witty and clever then at least make sure you hit at least one of those goals.

  6. poutsaras says

    this doesnt work.
    it doesnt pick up any drives in the instalation. also it seems to crash alot wile using it.

  7. sky says

    how does it work with usb 2.0? slow doesn’t it?
    how about usb 3.0 flash drive?
    what would you choose between a external hdd with 5400 rpm or flash drive 16 gb with usb 3.0?
    please reply

  8. uzY3L says

    Or, instead of going through this ridiculously and uselessly complicated and frustrating procedure, just boot any pc with your copy of Win7 and USB drive attached, go to the Repair my computer option, select the tools, go to command prompt and just run diskpart. This article reminds me of what NASA did in the 60s : they spent 60 million public US $ to manufacture a pen that would write in zero gravity. The russians used a pencil.

  9. Aritra Roy says

    What a wonderful post, it will really help me in installing Wiin7 in my friend’s comp who doesn’t have a DVD drive.

  10. Mike Bethany says

    The erroneously named title really needs to be changed. As has been stated this is NOT installing Win7 on a USB this is using a USB as a drive in a virtual machine. Completely different things.

    Please change the title now.

  11. amir says

    I installed win7 in virtualbox its perfect in host os but when I reboot and want to boot from usb this error appears:bootmgr is missing and when I COPY bootmgr from setup dvd the error changes to ‘boot/bcd is missing and when I copy boot/bcd from dvd or system the error changes to “0xc000000f” =.My host was 7 and the usb is “kingmax 8G” I realy want to have a portable usb to revive any dead system or other usages.Virtualbox is perfect and easy to use but why I can’t boot the damned os from usb??

  12. Snapafun says

    Hi Mayhem

    Kingston sell a 4GiB USB with a Windows friendly portable on it that I use for my stuff with external computers running Windows. You can install just about anything onto the USB and have your own personal OS when away from your own computers. I use it for VLC and Firefox alot so know it works fine.

  13. Nightowl4 says

    From here onwards, you need to follow the onscreen procedure to create a virtual disk and install Windows 7 on USB. Follow the install Windows 7 on VirtualBox guide to complete the process. I don’t see detail here. I have the portable VM on my 16gb flash and now what? I have the full Windows 7 in my DVD drive. I have installed mini XP on a flash and XP boot flash for istalling XP to a netbook that has no CD and that was not exactly a piece of cake since I don’t do this every day.

  14. vik says

    is it possible to use this portable windows 7 on an android tablet .(assuming the tablet has usb port)

  15. Portably Retarded says


    He was saying, Amazing, I am running on a portable HDD *NOW*, which means due to this article in the above mentioned way. :-/

  16. Nitesh says

    Hey Vamban,

    Did you say that you have installed Windows 7 ON A PORTABLE EXTERNAL HARD DISK?? I tried the same but it seems windows OS cannot be installed on an external hard disk. I have searched every bit and i have not found a solution to it. If somehow you have managed to do it please tell the steps to do it. I will be really grateful to you.


  17. Vamban says

    Simply amazing. Now i am running windows 7 in my portable hard disk along with windows XP sp3.

    Is there any quick tips to install IE6 in windows 7?

    Expecting your Reply.

  18. JOSHUA BADU says

    i want a software that will be compatible with all windows versions to create bootable flash to installed on my computer. because i like using different versions of windows.

  19. suckrd1 says

    Wrong titling leads to waisted time.
    How To Install Windows 7 On USB Flash Drive it doesnt explain at all, PvboxTroll.
    this stuff only fouls up the searchresults >:-|

  20. Art Wright says

    I tried this process and I did not get what I expected. I wanted to have a VM of Windows 7 on the flash drive, but following these instructions all I get is the extracted files to install VirtualBox. The VM ends up on the C: drive in a .VirtualBox folder, and not on the USB. What am I missing here?
    Please Reply.

  21. Joe says

    This does not work. I have a WD 16GB and I am using portable virtual box, but I get to 88% extract and it gives me an error that says it ran out of space and it dies. Any help would be great!

  22. Umm says

    This is misleading. This doesn’t install Windows 7 on a USB drive. This installs a Windows 7 VM on a USB drive.
    The two are not the same; not at all.
    To imply otherwise is disingenuous.

  23. Lennart says

    It’s been extracting and/or compressing for the past halfhour. Normal? Fishy? How much longer do I have to wait? Grateful for answers.

  24. Mike says

    Forget my Previous message. I have installed VirtualBox on my WD Passport drive. Using it on a host with Windows 7 Ultimate 64 Bit, it gave me the can’t find kernel message. When I used a host with XP, my work system with no admin rights it worked. I need it to work on a host with Win 7 because next year, the company I work for is going to that. Has anyone heard if the current version of portable VB does not work on a host with Win 7?

  25. Mike says

    I installed it Virtual Portable fine last night. Not realizing I had to also install Win7, I clicked on Windows 7 in the main window, and got a kernal error message. I had thought I had installed it wrong, and reformatted my USB drive to make sure it was clean. Now it will not install. I get as far as the window that gives you the choice of the “Download installation file of VirtualBox” button or search for the file. In case my previous install put something on the host computer, I used the restore point feature to go back to a point before my initial install Thursday night. Please help.
    Thank you in advance.

  26. Ayman says

    I installed it on an external HD 80Gb using this Gr8 method .. i have doual op sys on the same machine Xp & vista .. the win 7 was working perfectly on both OSs but all of asuden the virtualBox gave me a message that my win 7 is inaccessble on both OS. actualy this happend after i installed the 3d gadget feature in the box ..

    the only problem that i couldn’t solve is that the virtual box does not recognize the other external usb divices. so u can not use the win 7 on virtualbox to read other flash mem or external HDD

  27. Jiang says

    This method fails. I used Virtualbox to install Windows 7 directly to a physical USB disk, but upon booting on bare metal received the 0x7B BSOD.

  28. hackerman1 says

    hi !

    you DON´T need 16 GB to install Windows 7 !

    i have installed it on a 5.7 GB partion…

  29. Mayhem says

    No what I was looking for. This requires an operating system already installed on an internal hard drive to function. I am looking for a power on solution that will boot from USB into Windows 7

  30. meg says

    AFAIK, you can only run the guest – in this case Windows 7 – when you are logged in to the host with admin rights, because VB needs the kernel drivers. Is that right? Have you tried plugging the USB stick into another PC when you are logged in without admin rights?

    As an aside, I installed and ran portable VirtualBox but came up wiuth two problems which turned me off it:

    1. Although I could ping external sites fro the cmd prompt, I couldn’t get Firefox to work.

    2. When I closed the guest window, the portable virtualbox process didn’t close but just left the systray icon and amessage centre-screen saying “Exit Portable VirtualBox”. I had to use Task Manager to kill the process and in one case had to reboot.

    VirtualBox is magnificent: Portable VirtualBox feels buggy.

  31. minh says


    “You need only 6GB to install Vista or Windows 7 on USB”
    “But make sure that you have allocated 16+ GB”


  32. Devon says

    Sounds very awesome and a good alternative to a partian. I want to use this to try out the beta of windows 7 on PC’s. Will clear my old 30GB ipod, and will that. Will the opperating system by laggy because of the disk space? Or will it be ok? Email me back, thanks

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