How To: Create a Bootable USB Install Drive for Windows 10 (Windows Media Creation Tool)

If you have installed Windows 10 on your computer and need to perform a complete clean installation from scratch, you will need to create a bootable USB drive to start the installation. Microsoft has released a tool called the Windows Media Creation Tool that makes this easier than ever.

Before You Begin

First, It is important to note that this tool has many different applications. For example, the tool can be used to create installation media for a brand new Windows 10 installation that requires a purchased/upgraded product key, or It can be used to upgrade an existing Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 installation to Windows 10 (which will automatically convert your old product key to Windows 10) without the need to create bootable media.

If you want to upgrade your computer to Windows 10 with a clean installation, it is important that you do an in place upgrade first to register your new product key, note the product key, then perform a clean installation of Windows.

If you do not follow this order, you will not have a product key for Windows 10 and will need to reinstall your previous Operating System, then upgrade, note the key and then re-install Windows 10.

Second, you will need to note what version of Windows you own licensing for and what processor architecture you will be using. This can easily be found by doing the following:

Finding the Windows Version and Architecture

1. Click Start and locate Computer
2. Right Click on Computer and choose Properties

This window will provide you with your Windows Version (Example, Windows 7 Home or Windows 8.1 Pro) as well as the architecture version installed (32 bit or 64 bit)

SysInfo
  
Note: My example shows Windows 10, but older versions of Windows will still show the correct information. What you’re looking for is the “Pro” under Windows Edition and “64-bit Operating System” under System Type.

Determine Which Version of Windows 10 Applies to Your Existing License

Microsoft has provided a chart to help with choosing the right Windows 10 Version based on your existing installation license.

Source: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-10/media-creation-tool-install
Source: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-10/media-creation-tool-install

 Downloading the Media Creation Tool

Now that you have the information necessary to perform the upgrade, we need to download the tool itself.Choosing and Downloading the Media Creation Tool

1. Open a web browser and navigate to http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10

2. Scroll down and choose the version of the tool you will need based on the information you found above.

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Creating Installation Media

1. Open the downloaded Media Creation Tool

2. Once it loads, select the option for Create installation media for another PC then click Next
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3.  Choose the appropriate Language, Edition and Architecture based on the information obtained above. Click Next.

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4. Insert a USB Flash Drive at least 3GB in size

5. Select USB Flash Drive and click Next

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6. If prompted, select the appropriate drive letter, then click Next

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7. The wizard will download the Windows 10 Installation Files and copy them to the USB Flash Drive.

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You can find Microsoft’s writeup on this tool at http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-10/media-creation-tool-install

 

 

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