If you’ve downloaded your Windows 10 ISO, you need to boot from it to do a clean install. In this post I show you how to create a Windows 10 bootable USB flash drive for UEFI. The instructions equally apply to Windows 8.1, 8, 7 or even Vista but not XP as it does not allow creating UEFI boot disks.

What do you need before you start?

Before you start make sure you have the following:

  • The Windows 10, 8.1, 8 or 7 ISO. You can download the Windows 10 ISO using the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool;
  • At least a 4GB USB flash drive - use USB 3 if you can as it is much faster to transfer data than USB 2;

You may need to make the following changes to your system before you can boot with the Windows 10 bootable USB flash drive. Before changing make sure you have a note of what they are so you can change them back afterwards:

  • Set the boot mode to UEFI;
  • Disable fast boot. It could also be quick boot, ultra boot or max boot or some other combination on your system;
  • Disable secure boot.

Create a Windows 10 bootable USB flash drive with Rufus.

Follow the steps below:

  1. Plug your USB flash drive into the correct USB port of your computer (remember USB 3 ports are blue);
  2. Download Rufus. There is a portable version of Rufus available if you don’t want anything installed;
  3. If you have downloaded the Rufus installer, install it. Run Rufus, click OK on the User Account Control prompt and answer the question if you want Rufus to check for updates (if you’re not sure just click Yes);
  4. Make sure your options match those highlighted below, however make sure the Device option shows the USB flash drive you plugged in on step 1;
    Options to select in Rufus to create a UEFI USB bootable flash drive
  5. Select the disk icon to the right of ISO Image (under Format options -> Create a bootable disk using), select the ISO image to use and click Open;
    Select ISO image to use for Rufus
  6. After selecting the ISO image Rufus may show more options depending on the operating system of the ISO. Select Standard Windows Installation;
    Rufus ISO creation options
  7. Click Start. Rufus will warn you that it will erase all data on the USB flash drive. If you are happy click OK to continue;
    Rufus erase all data warning
  8. Rufus will now create the UEFI USB bootable flash drive from your ISO file;
    Rufus creating UEFI USB bootable flash drive
  9. Rufus does not alert you once it’s complete. Keep checking it and click Close once it’s finished.

So how do you use the Windows 10 bootable USB flash drive?

Whenever I’ve used a USB bootable flash drive in the past I have had to disable UEFI in the computer firmware. Using this Windows 10 bootable USB flash drive for UEFI will allow you to boot the computer without disabling that.

Every computer is different in how you can select how it should boot, however the two most common options are below. Make sure you plug your Windows 10 bootable USB flash drive into the correct USB port before continuing:

  1. Change the boot order in the computer firmware.
    The computer will usually be set to boot from the DVD drive and then the hard drive, in that order. Before You can either add in specific USB bootable drives or a generic option to boot from ‘USB boot devices’ (what they call this will vary by computer manufacturer);
  2. Use the boot menu.
    Unless specifically turned off, your computer will have a boot menu to start from. You can reach the menu with a keypress (in my experience F12 is the most common) or through the computer firmware and select the Boot Menu from the options. From there select the Windows 10 bootable USB flash drive that you plugged in.

All you need to do is choose the one that is easiest for you.

Paul Broadwith avatar
Paul Broadwith

Paul is a Senior Technology Engineer with 25 years experience in finance, government, manufacturing and services industries. He is a father, Cloud and Datacenter MVP, coder and loves to automate everything.

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