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.

Creating a USB installation media for Windows 10

UPDATED 5/31: When Microsoft releases a new major update of Windows 10, no everyone gets the new bits at 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 disc to do a clean install.

In this guide, you’ll learn the steps to create a USB bootable media with the Windows 10 installation files, which you can also to upgrade other computers.

How to create USB flash drive to install Windows 10 using ‘Media Creation Tool’

Use these steps to create a USB bootable media with the Windows 10 installation files 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 on your device.

  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 an 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 USB flash drive option
    Media Creation Tool USB flash drive option
  9. Click the Next button.

  10. Select the USB flash drive from 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.

How to create USB flash drive to install Windows 10 using ‘Rufus’

Use these steps to create a Windows 10 USB bootable media using Rufus for devices using UEFI or BIOS firmware:

  1. Open the Rufus official website.

  2. Under the “Download” section, click the link to download the latest version (3.5 or later).

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

  4. Under the “Device” section, use the drop-down menu and select the USB drive that you want to erase and use to create the installation media.

  5. Under the “Boot selection” section, use the drop-down menu and select the Disk or ISO image option.

  6. On the right side, click the down arrow button, and select the Download option.

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

    Rufus download ISO button
    Rufus download ISO button
  8. Select the Windows 10 option. (You can also select the Windows 8.1 option too.)

    Windows 10 or Windows 8.1 ISO selection
    Windows 10 or Windows 8.1 ISO selection
  9. Click the Continue button.

  10. Under the “Release” section, select the version of Windows 10 that you want to download.

    Quick tip: You can select the latest version (May 2019 Update), or you can choose to download older versions as well, including the April 2018 Update, Fall Creators Update, and even earlier versions.
  11. Click the Continue button.

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

  13. Click the Continue button.

  14. Select the language of Windows 10.

  15. Click the Continue button.

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

  17. Click the Download button.

    Download the Windows 10 ISO using Rufus
    Download the Windows 10 ISO using Rufus
  18. Select the location to save the Windows 10 ISO automatically.

  19. Under the “Partition scheme” section, select the GPT option if you’ll be using the Windows 10 USB media on a UEFI-based machine. Otherwise, select the MBR option if you’ll be using the boot media on a BIOS-based computer.

    Quick tip: You can check your device mode using these instructions.
  20. Use the default settings for the rest of the options.

  21. Click the Start button.

    Create bootable USB of Windows 10 using Rufus
    Create bootable USB of Windows 10 using Rufus
  22. 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 May 31, 2019: This guide was originally published in August 2015, and it’s now been revised and updated to reflect the new changes.