Install media

How to create bootable Windows 11 USB install media

Here's the process to create a bootable USB drive to perform a clean install of Windows 11.

Create bootable Windows 11 USB

If you plan to install Windows 11 on a device that meets the minimum requirements using the clean process, you will need a bootable USB media, and in this guide, you will learn how.

Although you can start a clean install of Windows 11 directly from the Media Creation Tool or mounting an ISO file, booting the device with USB installation media is still the best approach to proceed with the installation. Also, it’s perhaps the only way to install Windows 11 on a new computer or a device with an empty hard drive.

If you need to create a bootable USB flash drive to install Windows 11, you have multiple options, including using the Media Creation Tool, Rufus, and Command Prompt.

In this guide, you will learn the different ways to create a USB bootable media to perform an in-place or clean install of Windows 11 with support for UEFI. You can use Windows 10 or Windows 11 to use these instructions. (See also this video tutorial in the Pureinfotech YouTube channel to learn more on how to do this process.)

Use Rufus to create a bootable USB to install Windows 11

Since, at the time of this writing, there is not an official release of Windows 11, you will need to build a custom ISO file that you can use to create a bootable USB installation media.

To create a bootable USB to install Windows 11 using Rufus, use these steps:

  1. Create a custom Windows 11 Insider Preview ISO file.

  2. Open Rufus’ website.

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

  4. Double-click the rufus.3.xx.exe file to launch the tool.

  5. Under the “Device” section, use the drop-down menu and select the USB flash drive to create the Windows 11 bootable media.

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

  7. Click the Select button.

    Rufus create bootable USB
    Rufus create bootable USB
  8. Select the Windows 11 ISO file.

    Windows 11 ISO
    Windows 11 ISO
  9. Click the Open button.

  10. Under the “Image option” section, select the Standard Windows Installation option.

  11. Under the “Partition scheme” section, select the GPT option.

  12. Under the “Target system” section, select the UEFI (non CSM) option.

  13. Under the “Volume label” section, specify a descriptive name for the bootable USB drive – For example, Win11_Install_USB.

    Rufus settings
    Rufus settings
  14. Use the default settings for the File system and Cluster size options.

  15. Check the Quick format option.

  16. Check the Create extended label and icon files option.

  17. Click the Start button.

  18. Click the OK button to confirm the deletion of the USB and the creation of the bootable drive.

Once you complete the steps, the tool will begin the process to create a bootable media with the Windows 11 installation media.

Use Command Prompt to create a bootable USB to install Windows 11

Similar to the previous process, you will need an ISO file with the installation files of Windows 11 to create a bootable media with Command Prompt.

To create a USB flash drive to install Windows 11 with Command Prompt, use these steps:

  1. Open Start on Windows 11 or 10.

  2. Search for Command Prompt, right-click the top result, and select the Run as Administrator option.

  3. Type the following command to open Diskpart and press Enter:

    diskpart
  4. Type the following command to determine the USB flash drive and press Enter:

    list disk
  5. Type the following command to select the storage and press Enter:

    select disk 1
    Quick tip: The select disk 1 command as an example, but you have to replace 1 with the number of the flash drive you want to use.
  6. Type the following commands to delete everything from the USB flash drive and press Enter:

    clean

    DiskPart clean USB
    DiskPart clean USB
  7. Type the following command to create a primary partition and press Enter:

    create partition primary
  8. Type the following command to select the new partition and press Enter:

    select partition 1
  9. Type the following command to make the USB flash drive bootable and press Enter:

    format FS=FAT32 quick
  10. Type the following command to assign a volume and a drive letter for the USB flash drive and press Enter:

    assign letter=X
    Create UEFI bootable USB
    Create UEFI bootable USB

    In the command, change X for any available letter you want to use.

  11. Type the following command to quit the tool and press Enter:

    exit
  12. Type the following command to mount the Windows 11 ISO file and press Enter:

    PowerShell Mount-DiskImage -ImagePath "C:\path\to\Windows11.iso"
    PowerShell mount ISO command
    PowerShell mount ISO command

    In the command, make sure to update the path with the location where you have stored the Windows 11 ISO file.

  13. Type the following command to launch Diskpart again and press Enter:

    diskpart
  14. Type the following command to determine the drive letter for the mounted Windows 11 ISO file and press Enter:

    list volume
  15. Type the following command to exit Diskpart and press Enter:

    exit
  16. Type the following command to access the Windows 11 ISO file and press Enter:

    E:
  17. Type the following command to the boot folder and press Enter

    cd boot
  18. Type the following command to update the volume boot code for the USB flash drive and press Enter:

    bootsect /nt60 X:
  19. Type the following command to copy all the Windows 11 installation files to the USB flash drive and press Enter:

    xcopy E:\*.* X:\ /E /F /H
    Create Windows 11 USB
    Create Windows 11 USB

    In the command, change the E and X drive letters with the correct drive letters for the Windows 11 ISO image and the USB flash drive respectively.

After you complete the steps, you can use the bootable flash drive to install Windows 11 on devices using UEFI.

Use Media Creation Tool to create a bootable USB to install Windows 11

The Media Creation Tool for Windows 11 is expected to be available immediately after the official launch sometime in October 2021. Since the new OS is based on Windows 10, the steps will be similar to the ones for the current version of the tool.

To use the Media Creation Tool to create a bootable Windows 11 USB install media, use these steps:

  1. Open Microsoft support website.

  2. Under the “Create Windows 11 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 11 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 settings
    Media Creation Tool settings
  8. Select the USB flash drive option.

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

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

  11. Click the Next button.

  12. Click the Finish button.

Once you complete the steps, you can start a device using UEFI with the USB drive to install Windows 11.