How to create bootable USB media to install Windows 10

Here are the steps to use the Media Creation Tool to make a Windows 10 installation media. And we go through the steps to create a USB bootable drive with GPT partition support.

Windows 10 USB bootable media

When Microsoft releases a new major update of Windows 10, no everyone gets the new bits on the same day. Instead, the company upgrades computers gradually, and it takes some time until the new version reaches every device.

However, if you really want to upgrade, the company allows you to download the Windows 10 installation files using the Media Creation Tool. The tool helps to perform an in-place upgrade or create an installation media using a USB flash drive or DVD to perform a clean install.

In this guide, you will learn the steps to create a USB bootable media with the Windows 10 installation files to upgrade other computers.

Create bootable USB to install Windows 10 with Media Creation Tool

To create a Windows 10 USB bootable media using the Microsoft Media Creation Tool:

  1. Open Microsoft support website.

  2. Under the “Create Windows 10 installation media” section, click the Download tool now button and save the file.

  3. Double-click the MediaCrationToolxxxx.exe file to launch the tool.

  4. Click the Accept button.

  5. Select the Create installation media (USB flash drive, DVD, or ISO file) for another PC option.

    Media Creation Tool create installation media option
    Media Creation Tool create installation media option
  6. Click the Next button.

  7. Click the Next button again. (If you’re creating a Windows 10 USB for another device, you can also clear the Use the recommended options for this PC option to select the correct language, architecture, and edition.)
    Media Creation Tool Windows 10 settings
    Media Creation Tool Windows 10 settings
  8. Select the USB flash drive option.

    Media Creation Tool create Windows 10 USB flash drive
    Media Creation Tool creates Windows 10 USB flash drive.
  9. Click the Next button.

  10. Select the USB flash drive from the list, but make sure that it doesn’t have any important files as this process will erase everything on it.

  11. Click the Next button.

  12. Click the Finish button.

After completing the steps, you can start your computer using UEFI or BIOS with the USB drive to install Windows 10.

Create bootable USB to install Windows 10 with Rufus

To create a Windows 10 USB bootable media using Rufus for devices using UEFI or BIOS firmware:

  1. Open Rufus website.

  2. Under the “Download” section, click the link to download the latest version.

  3. Double-click the executable to launch the tool.

  4. Click the Settings button (third button from the left) a the bottom of the page.

    Rufus settings button
    Rufus settings button
  5. Under the “Settings” section, use the “Check for updates” drop-down menu and select the Daily option.

    Rufus update settings
    Rufus update settings
  6. Click the Close button.

  7. Click the Close button again to close the app.

  8. Open Rufus again.

  9. Under the “Device” section, use the drop-down menu, and select the USB drive to create the installation media.

    Quick tip: You’ll need to connect a USB flash drive of at least 8GB of storage. If you don’t see the device on the list, you may need to restart the tool.
  10. Under the “Boot selection” section, use the drop-down menu and select the Disk or ISO image option.

  11. Click the down arrow button on the right side, and select the Download option.

    Rufus Windows 10 ISO download option
    Rufus Windows 10 ISO download option
  12. Click the Download button.

  13. Select the Windows 10 option.

  14. Click the Continue button.

  15. Under the “Release” section, select the version of Windows 10.

    Rufus download Windows 10 ISO
    Rufus download Windows 10 ISO
  16. Click the Continue button.

  17. Select the edition, including Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro, or Windows 10 Education.

  18. Click the Continue button.

  19. Select the language of Windows 10.

  20. Click the Continue button.

  21. Select the operating system architecture (x64 or x86). (If it’s a newer device, you’ll need to select the x64 option.)

  22. Click the Download button.

  23. Select the location to save the Windows 10 ISO automatically.

  24. Continue with the default settings after the download.

  25. Click the Start button.

    Create Windows 10 USB with Rufus
    Create Windows 10 USB with Rufus
  26. Click the OK button to confirm the deletion of the USB drive data.

Once you complete the steps, you can boot and install Windows 10 on computers running on UEFI or BIOS, depending on your firmware.

In the case that after the upgrade, Windows 10 is not activated, go to Settings > Update & security > Activation, click the Troubleshoot button to start the Activation troubleshooter utility.

Update December 3, 2020: This guide was originally published in August 2015, and it’s now been revised and updated to reflect the new changes.