Setup media

How to create bootable USB flash drive to install Windows 10

Here are the steps to use the Media Creation Tool and Rufus to create a Windows 10 bootable media.

Windows 10 USB bootable media

When Microsoft releases new versions 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 do not want to wait for the automatic upgrade, the company also 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. Furthermore, you can even use third-party tools like Rufus to download and create a bootable media to install Windows 10 from USB.

In this guide, you will learn the steps to create a USB flash drive to upgrade or reinstall Windows 10 on different devices using the Media Creation Tools and Rufus.

Create Windows 10 bootable USB with Media Creation Tool

To create a Windows 10 USB flash drive with the Microsoft Media Creation Tool, use these steps:

  1. Open Microsoft support website.

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

  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.

    Quick note: if you are 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 Windows 10 bootable USB with Rufus

To create a bootable media to install Windows 10 from USB using Rufus on UEFI or BIOS devices, use these steps:

  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. Reopen the Rufus tool.

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

    Quick tip: You will need to connect a USB flash drive of at least 8GB of storage. If you do not 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 to download.

    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 for the installation.

  20. Click the Continue button.

  21. Select the operating system architecture (x64 or x86). (If it’s a newer device, you may want 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 flash 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.

If after the upgrade, Windows 10 is not activated, on Settings > Update & security > Activation, click the Troubleshoot button to start the Activation troubleshooter utility.

Update May 5, 2021: This guide was originally published in August 2015, and it’s now been revised and updated to reflect the new changes.