How to create a Windows 8 bootable USB using the Command Prompt (step by step)

Command line bootable USB Windows 8

You can create a Windows 8 bootable USB using the Windows 7 USB/DVD tool from Microsoft or the Win8USB utility to automate the process. However, if you are a tech savvy person, you know that the fun is doing it yourself.

If you think you are up to the challenge, in this guide, you’ll learn the steps to create a Windows 8 bootable USB using Diskpart, a command-line utility to manage partitions in the operating system.

Creating a bootable USB drive to install Windows 8:

  1. One of the first thing you need to do is to download the Windows 8 ISO image, if you haven’t done it already.

  2. Mount the Windows 8 ISO image. (You are probably using Windows 7, which doesn’t have a built-tool to mount an image, but don’t worry I got you covered! Visit this previous article and download WinCDEmu, it is a free tool that does a great job mounting ISO files.)

  3. Connect a USB flash drive with at least 4GB in size to your computer. Make sure to backup any data of the flash drive, as it’ll be erased in the process.

  4. Open Start, do a search for Command Prompt, right-click the result and select Run as Administrator.

  5. Type the following command to start Diskpart command line utility to manage partitions on Windows and press Enter:

    diskpart
  6. Type the following commands and press Enter on each line:

    list disk
    select disk 2
    clean
    create partition primary
    select partition 1
    active
    format FS=NTFS
    Note: It’s important to point out that I’m using select disk 2 to select my USB drive, you need to replace 2 with the number of the drive you want use.
  7. Type the following command to assign a volume and a drive letter for the USB drive. For the purpose of this guide, I’ll be using X, but you can use any available letter, and press Enter:

    assign letter=X
  8. Type the following command and press Enter to exit Diskpart:

    exit

    Diskpart bootable USB Windows 8

Before downloading the files into the USB drive, we need to make the drive bootable. Use the Boot Sector Registration Tool (bootsect.exe). You can find the tool in the boot folder at the root of the Windows 8 ISO image. While in the Command Prompt to proceed making the USB drive bootable.

  1. Type letter of the drive with the Windows 8 installation files, and enter the boot folder to do this type X:\boot and press Enter (note that in the command needs to be changed for the letter of your USB drive), and then type the following command and press Enter again:

    bootsect /nt60 X:

    Bootsect nt60 Windows 8

  2. Copy all the Windows 8 installation files to the USB drive that you’ve been preparing. In this example, the Windows 8 ISO image is mounted with the drive letter of V and the USB drive has the drive letter X. Knowing this, type the following command and press Enter:

    xcopy V:\*.* X:\ /E /F /H

The last thing left to do is to install Windows 8 in your system, you can visit the previous Windows 8 How-To to use as a guide to install the operating system — Walkthrough Windows 8 Consumer Preview installation (Windows Setup) step-by-step.