How to Install Windows 8 or 8.1 From USB

Instructions on using a USB flash drive to install Windows 8 or 8.1

What to Know

  • Download Rufus, and then open it on your computer.
  • Open the Windows 8 ISO in that program to create a bootable USB device.
  • Boot your computer from that device to start the Windows installation.

This article explains how to install Windows 8 or 8.1 using a USB device. It also includes a workaround for installing Windows 8 on a UEFI-based system.

Preparing for the Installation

If you want to install Windows 8 from a USB device, you need to get the setup files from the DVD to the USB drive. Simply copying them there won't do. Regardless of whether you have a Windows 8 DVD that you need to get on a flash drive or an ISO file with the same goal, the following tutorial will help you get the installation files copied to a flash drive.

It's a relatively simple process that takes 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the format of your copy of Windows 8 and your computer's speed.

Burning an ISO file to a USB drive as described in that article and below works equally well for Windows 11/10 users.

To complete this process, you need:

  • A flash drive (4 GB for 32-bit, 8 GB for 64-bit).
  • A Windows 8/8.1 DVD or ISO.
  • Access to a working computer (with a DVD drive if you have a Windows 8 DVD) with Windows 11, Windows 10, Windows 8, or Windows 7 installed.

How to Install Windows 8 or 8.1 From a USB Device

If you have a Windows 8 ISO file and want that on a flash drive, start with Step 2. If you have a Windows 8 DVD and need that on the flash drive, start with Step 1.

The need to install Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 from a USB device is common because most new computers no longer have optical drives. Here's how to install from a USB.

  1. Create an ISO file from the Windows 8 DVD. It's the procedure by which you create a single file, called an ISO image, containing all the data stored on the Windows 8 setup DVD.

    Once you have an ISO image, come back here and continue with this tutorial to explain how to get it onto a flash drive.

    If you already know how to create ISO files with your favorite program, often called "ripping," then do so in whatever way you're used to doing it. However, if you've never created one or don't have a program installed right now that does it, please see the linked tutorial above for complete instructions on doing so with a free program.

  2. Burn the ISO file to a USB drive. That guide has you use the free Rufus program, but any similar program should get the job done as well.

    Rufus ready to burn Windows 8 ISO file to flash drive

    Pay close attention to the Partition scheme and Target system options. If you have a UEFI-based system, change those options to GPT and UEFI (non CSM), respectively.

  3. Boot from the USB device you just created to start the Windows 8 install process. You should now be installing from a USB device.

    If the Windows 8 setup process doesn't start, you'll likely need to change the boot order in BIOS.

Booting Windows 8 Setup on a UEFI-Based System

If you have a UEFI-based system, and you still can't boot Windows 8 Setup from the flash drive, even after following the directions above, there's still a workaround that might work for you.

To work around this issue:

  1. After Step 2 above, copy all the files from the flash drive to a folder on your PC.

  2. Format the flash drive manually, using the older FAT32 file system.

  3. Copy all of the files from the folder you made in Step 1 back to the flash drive.

  4. Repeat Step 3 above.

WIndows 8 on a laptop with a USB drive
Emily Mendoza / Lifewire
  • How do I install Windows 11?

    To install Windows 11, go to the Windows 11 Downloads page and select Download Now. On your PC, run the downloaded Windows 11 Installation Assistant executable file and select Accept and Install. Windows 11 will automatically start downloading.

  • How do I install Windows 10 from USB?

    To install Windows 10 from USB, go to Microsoft's Windows 10 download site and choose Download tool now. Plug in your USB drive and run the exe file. Select Create installation media (USB flash drive, DVD or ISO file) for another PC, and choose USB flash drive to begin the download. Plug in the USB drive and restart the PC. When you see the Windows installer, follow the prompts.

  • How do I install Windows on a Mac?

    You can run Windows on a Mac with the Boot Camp utility. Boot Camp allows you to install Windows and then choose between Mac and Windows on startup.

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