Home / Windows / How to Install Windows 11 From a USB Drive

How to Install Windows 11 From a USB Drive

flash drive laying on top of a laptop computer's keyboard
A. Strode/Shutterstock.com

You can install Windows 11 on a supported device by downloading and using the ISO file that’s available on Microsoft’s official website. To do this, you’re going to need a flash drive and meet certain requirements.

What You’ll Need

You’re going to need a few things to get started. First, you’ll need a USB drive with at least 8GB of storage space. If you don’t already have one lying around, you can find a decent USB drive online for a reasonable price. If you do already have a USB drive, be sure that there are no important files on it, as it will be wiped clean during the setup process.

You’ll also need a stable internet connection and a computer running Windows to download the ISO file and create the USB drive. When you’re done, you can remove the USB drive from that computer and insert it into the computer that you want to install Windows 11 on.

RELATED: How to Upgrade Your PC to Windows 11

Windows 11 Hardware Requirements

The destination PC that you plan to install Windows 11 on has to meet certain requirements to properly run Windows 11. Here are the minimum system specs that you must meet:

  • Processor: 1GHz or faster with at least 2 cores on a 64-bit processor or System on a Chip
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage Space: 64GB (more may be required to download updates)
  • Graphics Card: DirectX 12 or later with a WDDM 2.0 driver
  • Display: High-def (720p) that’s at least 9″ diagonally
  • System Firmware: UEFI, Secure Boot Capable
  • TPM: TPM 2.0

If you don’t meet these requirements, you can still install Windows 11, though this isn’t recommended since your Windows 11 experience may be buggy and you may miss out on important security updates. Windows 10 will still be supported until Q4 of 2025, so, at the time of writing, there’s no rush to upgrade.

RELATED: What Happens If I Don’t Upgrade to Windows 11?

Create the Installation Media

Once you have everything you need and you’ve confirmed that the device that you’ll install on meets the minimum system requirements, you can start preparing your Windows 11 installation files. Insert the USB into your Windows PC that you want to make the bootable USB drive on.

Warning: Any files on the USB drive will be erased during the setup process. Make sure that there are no important files on the USB drive.

Next, head over to Microsoft’s official Windows 11 download page. In the “Create Windows 11 Installation Media” group, you can read about the system requirements and what you’ll need under “Before You Begin.” Read through everything again and then click “Download Now.”

Download the Windows 11 ISO file.

Run the program once it’s finished downloading. The first window that will appear is the Applicable Notices and License Terms. Read through everything and then accept the terms by clicking “Accept” in the bottom-right corner of the window.

Click Accept.

The loading icon will then appear and a message stating that Windows is getting a few things ready will appear. After a few seconds, you’ll be on the Select Language and Edition screen. The only edition you can choose here is Windows 11, so just leave it at that. You can also select a different language if you want. Or, just let Windows select this for you by checking the box next to “Use the Recommended Options for This PC.”

Unlike what you’d find in the Windows 10 Setup menu, there’s no “Architecture” option here, as Windows 11 is only compatible with 64-bit.

Select “Next” to continue.

Select language and edition.

On the next screen, you’ll need to choose which media to use. Select “USB Flash Drive” and then click “Next” to continue. Remember that you must have at least 8GB of available storage space.

Select USB flash drive.

Next, select the flash drive you’d like to use. Once selected, click “Next” to continue.

Warning: This is your last chance to save any files on your USB drive. If you have any important files, back up your USB drive. Once you proceed, your files will be permanently deleted.

Select a flash drive.

The downloading process will begin. The amount of time it takes varies, but be prepared to wait for a bit. The good news is you can continue to use your PC while you wait.

Downloading Windows 11.

Click the “Finish” button once downloading is complete, safely remove the USB drive from the computer, and then insert it into the computer that you want to install Windows 11 on.

RELATED: How to Never “Safely Remove” a USB Drive Again on Windows 10

Install Windows 11 From the USB Drive

Once the USB drive with the installation files is inserted into the destination PC, you’ll need to set the boot order so that the computer loads the operating system from a location other than its hard drive. In this case, we want Windows to load the operating system from the USB drive.

How to Boot Your Computer From a Disc or USB Drive

RELATEDHow to Boot Your Computer From a Disc or USB Drive

You’ll need to access the boot menu on startup for this to work. When you’re booting your computer, press the appropriate key to open the BIOS or UEFI controls. The key that you need to press differs between computers, but it’s usually F11 or F12.

After you select the USB drive from the boot menu, your PC will reboot from the USB drive (instead of the hard drive) and ask you to begin the setup of the installation media by pressing any key.

You’re now ready to set up your computer with Windows 11. First, you’ll need to choose the language to install, the time and currency format, and the keyboard or input method. To change one of the preset options, click the down arrow and select an option from the drop-down menu. However, you’ll rarely need to change anything here.

Click “Next” when you’re ready to move forward.

Select setup information.

Click “Install Now” on the next screen.

Click Install Now.

Windows will tell you that setup is starting, and then you’ll be on the Windows Setup screen. This is the screen where you will activate your version of Windows. If you have your product key, enter it in the text box. If you don’t, you can run a limited version of Windows by choosing “I Don’t Have a Product Key” at the bottom of the window. If you choose the latter option, you can enter the product key at a later point to unlock everything.

If you entered your product key, click “Next” to continue. We’ll select “I Don’t Have a Product Key” in this example.

Enter product key.

On the next screen, select the version of Windows 11 that you want to install. If you already have a product key, be sure to select the correct version, as product keys only work with their respective version. Once you select your version, click “Next.”

Select Windows 11 version.

Accept the license terms on the next screen by checking the box. Click “Next” to proceed.

Accept the license terms.

You can then select to upgrade, which installs the new version of Windows while keeping your files, apps, and settings. We’ll select “Custom: Install Windows Only (Advanced)” since we’re doing a fresh install.

Select the option to do a fresh install of Windows.

Finally, select where you want to install Windows. If your hard drive is new, it may say something like “Drive 0 Unallocated Space.” If you’ve partitioned your drive, its name will reflect that.

Select the drive and then click “Next.”

Select a drive to install W11.

The Wizard will now begin installing the Windows files. The length of this process varies from computer to computer and could take a bit of time.

Once finished, your computer will reboot. In some cases, you’ll get stuck in a boot loop where the system tries to bring you back to the installation process. This happens because the system might be trying to read from the USB drive instead of from the hard drive that you installed the OS on. If this happens, remove the USB drive and restart the computer.

You’ve now successfully installed Windows 11 on your PC! Windows 11 may feel a bit jarring at first after using Windows 10 for a long time, most notably the Start menu. Take time to explore Windows 11—after a bit of time, you’ll learn to love it!

RELATED: Here’s How Windows 11’s New Start Menu Works Differently

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Check Also

Windows Copilot Brings Bing Chat & ChatGPT to Windows 11 PCs

Microsoft started rolling out a shortcut to the Bing Chat AI in ...