2 Ways to Create a Windows 11 Bootable USB Drive

Microsoft has software to help, but you can also use third-party software

What to Know

  • Microsoft's Media Creation Tool: Select Accept > Next > USB flash drive. Follow the on-screen prompts.
  • Rufus: Choose USB device > DOWNLOAD > Windows 11 > Continue. Follow prompts to copy over the files.
  • Then restart the PC and boot from that drive to install Windows.

This article explains how to create a Windows 11 bootable USB drive and then how to use it to install Windows 11.

Windows 11 Media Creation Tool

Windows 11 Media Creation Tool, available from Microsoft's website, helps you create a Windows 11 bootable USB. It's really easy to use because it walks you through all the steps.

  1. Visit Microsoft's Download Windows 11 page, and select Download Now from the Create Windows 11 Installation Media section.

  2. Press Accept on the notices and terms screen.

    The Windows 11 Terms of Service with the Accept button highlighted.
  3. Select Next to agree to the default language. To change it, uncheck Use the recommended options for this PC.

    windows 11 setup language and edition selection
  4. Choose USB flash drive, and then press Next.

    The Windows 11 setup language and edition selection highlighted.
  5. Select the device you want to use as the Windows 11 bootable USB, and then press Next.

    Choosing a removable device highlighted for the Windows 11 setup.

    If you don't see your connected USB drive, and selecting Refresh drive list doesn't help, you might need to format the drive first.

  6. Wait while setup finishes. You'll see a Downloading Windows 11 screen, followed by one that says Creating Windows 11 media.

    The Windows 11 download progress highlighted.
  7. Select Finish on the final screen that reads Your USB flash drive is ready.

    The Finish button highlighted when the USB flash drive is ready.

Using Rufus to Create a Bootable Windows 11 USB Drive

Another way to make a bootable Windows 11 flash drive is to download the Windows 11 ISO file yourself and then burn the image to the USB drive.

There are lots of ways to do this, but we like to use Rufus because it can download the file for you and make the device bootable, so it's more streamlined than other similar tools.

  1. Download and open Rufus.

  2. Select your USB drive from the Device menu.

  3. Set the Boot selection option to Disk or ISO image if it isn't already.

  4. Choose the arrow next to SELECT, and change it to DOWNLOAD.

    The Download button highlighted in Rufus.

    If you already have a Windows 11 ISO ready to install to your USB drive, choose SELECT here instead, then locate the file from your computer and skip down to step 10.

  5. Select DOWNLOAD, choose Windows 11 from the pop-up menu, and then press Continue.

    The Windows version and Continue selections highlighted in Rufus.
  6. Choose all the details for the Windows 11 ISO, pressing Continue after each one to move on to the next question:

    • Release: Select the most recent build that's available (it should be preselected). Reference our List of Windows Version Numbers to confirm the latest version.
    • Edition: Confirm that Windows 11 is selected.
    • Language: Choose your language from the menu.
    • Architecture: The only option available is x64.
    Rufus download ISO image prompt for Windows 11 highlighted.
  7. Select Download.

  8. Choose a folder on your computer to save the ISO file to, and then select Save to start downloading Windows 11.

    The Download location and Save button highlighted in Rufus.
  9. Wait while Rufus saves the Windows 11 ISO image to your computer.

    The download progress bar highlighted in Rufus.
  10. Select START.

  11. Choose any of the customizations you want, if any, and then press OK.

    The Customization Window selections options highlighted in Rufus.
  12. Read the warning that everything on this drive is about to be erased, and then select OK if you agree.

    The warning about deletion message and OK button highlighted.
  13. Wait while Rufus copies the ISO files to the USB drive.

    The copy progress bar highlighted as Rufus copies the Windows 11 ISO to the USB flash drive.

    This is the final step. You can select CLOSE when Status says READY.

How to Install Windows 11 From USB

Now that you have a Windows 11 USB ready to go, you need to change the boot order your computer follows so that it will check the flash drive for installation directions. We cover all these steps in our How to Boot From a USB Device guide.

Another way to install Windows 11 using this new flash drive is through Windows itself (no need to change the boot order). To do this, open setup.exe from the drive.

Of course, this isn't useful if the reason you're installing the OS is that your computer doesn't work normally, or if it's a brand-new build that doesn't have an existing version of Windows on it. However, you might follow this method if you're upgrading from Windows 10 to Windows 11.

If you want to install Windows 11 in a virtual machine, it's easier to use the ISO image directly. You can get that through either of the methods outlined above: Microsoft's website (step 1) or Rufus (step 9).

  • How do I make a bootable USB for Windows 10?

    You can use the same procedures to make a Windows 10 USB, but you'll start from Microsoft's Windows 10 page. While downloading the OS, choose the option to download to a USB drive.

  • How do I copy Windows to a USB?

    If you're wondering how to copy the version of Windows your computer is running to an external drive, don't bother. It's easier and better to grab a copy through the Microsoft download page.

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