You can use installation media (a USB flash drive or DVD) to install a new copy of Windows, perform a clean installation, or reinstall Windows. To create installation media, go to the software download website, where you'll find step-by-step instructions. On that website, you can select a version of Windows and create your own installation media using either a USB flash drive or a DVD. To go directly to one of the versions, select one of these links:. Windows 10 (Then select Download tool now.). Windows 11 (Then select Download tool now.).
Important: Back up your files before you install or reinstall Windows on your PC. Learn how for Windows 10 and Windows 11 or for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. To create the installation media, here's what you'll need:. A PC with a reliable internet connection. The download time will vary, depending on your internet connection. A USB flash drive, external hard drive, or DVD. A blank USB flash drive or external hard drive with at least 8 GB of space, or a blank DVD (and DVD burner). We recommend using a blank USB or blank DVD because any content on it will be deleted. When burning a DVD from an ISO file, if you're told the disc image file is too large, you'll need to use dual layer (DL) DVD media. Your 25-character product key (not required for digital licenses). For help finding it, go to Find your Windows product key. After you've created the installation media, you can reset or reinstall Windows. To learn more, go to Recovery options in Windows. Applies To: Windows Server 2016 Essentials, Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials, Windows Server 2012 Essentials. To create a bootable USB flash drive for use in recovering or reinstalling Windows on a PC instead of a server, see Create a recovery drive. Insert a USB flash drive into a running computer. Open a Command Prompt window as an administrator. In the new command line window that opens, to determine the USB flash drive number or drive letter, at the command prompt, type list disk, and then click ENTER. The list disk command displays all the disks on the computer. Note the drive number or drive letter of the USB flash drive. At the command prompt, type select disk , where X is the drive number or drive letter of the USB flash drive, and then click ENTER. Type clean, and the click ENTER. This command deletes all data from the USB flash drive. To create a new primary partition on the USB flash drive, type create partition primary, and then click ENTER. To select the partition that you just created, type select partition 1, and then click ENTER. To format the partition, type format fs=ntfs quick, and then click ENTER. If your server platform supports Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI), you should format the USB flash drive as FAT32 rather than as NTFS. To format the partition as FAT32, type format fs=fat32 quick, and then click ENTER. Type active, and then click ENTER. Type exit, and then click ENTER. When you finish preparing your custom image, save it to the root of the USB flash drive. Whether you want to upgrade your computer to Windows 11 or do a fresh install if something goes wrong with your system, a USB bootable drive is a popular way to go. After all, it is far more convenient than burning a DVD and can be used in more situations. All you need to do is download Media Creation Tool from the Microsoft website and make one. In a broader sense, there is another bootable USB drive, the recovery drive, which uses the tools that come with Windows and contains the Windows recovery environment as well as the installation files (optional) and can be used for system troubleshooting or reinstallation. Below you will find the two ways to create bootable USB in Windows 11. A bootable Windows 11 USB drive is the best way to install Windows 11. However, if you are upgrading from Windows 10 to Windows 11, please check if your PC meets the system requirements for Windows 11 first. If not, you can search for ways to bypass the requirements, but Microsoft has said it will not guarantee subsequent updates for unsupported PCs, plus there may be security or compatibility issues. To create a bootable Windows 11 USB drive, you first need a computer running Windows 10 or 11, and a USB drive larger than 8 GB. Open Microsoft's download page, scroll down to find the "Create Windows 11 Installation Media " section and click the "Download Now" button below. When the download is complete, open the file called "MediaCreationToolW11.exe".