Installing Windows 2008 via USB thumbdrive

Windows 2008 comes only on DVD and today you’d think every computer has a DVD drive by default, unfortunately most servers are ordered without them and that causes a problem obviously. Your choices would be to break the DVD into CD-ROMs (not fun) install over the network (a little more work than I wanted to do) or find another means to get it up. My solution, USB Thumb drive

Since Vista and Windows 2008 share the same code base, I figured someone must have found a way to boot vista off a thumb drive so I looked and found just that.  Kurt Shintaku has a how-to on how to install Windows Vista from a high speed USB 2.0 Flash Drive.

Before you begin though, if your thumbdrive has U3 installed on it, you’ll probably want to remove that (I did just to be certain), here’s instructions on how to do that: 

Using Kurt’s instructions this is all it took:

Format the thumb drive

  1. from a DOS prompt execute: diskpart
  2. list disk
  3. select disk 1    (assuming disk 1 was your thumb drive in the above list disk command)
  4. clean
  5. create partition primary
  6. select partition 1
  7. active
  8. format fs=fat32
  9. assign
  10. exit


Copy the Win2008 install files

  1. xcopy d:\*.* /s/e/f e:\   (assumes your dvd is drive D: and your thumb drive is drive E:\, adjust accordingly)


That’s all it took other than verifying the server BIOS was set to boot off of the USB device. But hey, don’t stop there! Check out the Windows Cloud Servers at and get your own Windows 2008 Server in the cloud in just 30 minutes, no USB device required!

24 thoughts on “Installing Windows 2008 via USB thumbdrive”

  1. hi i am using a toshiba m30 laptop.the strip wire of the dvd drive is broken so it doesnt will the vista setup will load up when i boot from the usb.does it workon external harddirves…reply soon

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