How to create a bootable Windows 8.1 USB

Microsoft has released Windows 8 and 8.1 in digital and physical formats. You can install the new Windows operating system by either downloading the ISO file or by a DVD. But what can you do if none of these options are suitable for your situation? You can create a bootable Windows 8.1 USB drive.

The main benefits to using a bootable Windows 8.1 USB drive is that its compatible with every device that runs Windows. You don’t need to have a DVD drive on your hardware to install it, just a USB port. Its easier to store and carry and installs times are much faster than a DVD.

So what do you need to set up the USB?

You will need the following to create a Windows 8.1 USB drive:
* A 4GB USB drive or larger;
* Windows 8.1 ISO file or DVD, you can download an ISO file from the downloads section of 123myIT website here.
* Any device that can run Windows.
* Windows product key. You can find it on the 123myIT Downloads page here.

I already have a Windows 8 Product Key, can I update it?
The answer is yes. If you own Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, you can download and install Windows by using your product key. Click here.

How do I create the Windows 8.1 USB drive from a DVD or ISO file?
After downloading the Windows 8.1 ISO follow the steps below.
1. Insert your 4GB USB drive.
2. Open the Command Prompt by pressing Windows Key + R and type “cmd” of go to Start Run and type “cmd”.
3. In the black command windows type “diskpart” and this will open the partitioning software, so that you can start to format the USB drive.
4. Run the following commands.
* DISKPART> list disk
“list disk shows all of the active disks on your computer”
* DISKPART> select disk #
“# represents the number for your USB flash drive”
* DISKPART> clean
“deletes any existing partitions on the USB flash drive”
* DISKPART> create partition primary
“creates a primary partition on the USB flash drive”
* DISKPART> select partition 1
“selects the partition you just created”
DISKPART> active
“makes the partition active”
DISKPART> format FS=NTFS quick
“This command will format the USB with the NTFS file system”
* DISKPART> assign
“assign a volume and drive letter to the USB drive”
“exit Disk Partition”

Once complete your CMD or command window should look something like this.

Diskpart Commands

Copying the Windows 8.1 files from the ISO file or DVD drive to your Windows 8.1 USB drive.

The next step is to use XCOPY to copy all the files on your ISO file or DVD to the Windows 8.1 USB drive. Use the command below to get started. Change the “H and F” drive to suit the letters of your ISO file or DVD drive and USB drive. For more info watch the video above.

XCOPY H:\*.* F:\ /E /H /F

Once you finished typing the command it should look like the screen shot below.

Xcopy Commands

And the hard part is now done. Simply plug in your bootable Windows 8.1 USB drive into any Windows PC and you will be able to boot and install Windows 8.1.

Good Luck.

49 thoughts on “How to create a bootable Windows 8.1 USB

  1. Great video. You took the time to explain what you were doing, and left out the annoying music in the background of too many videos, ugh. I will be using you guys again and will subscribe!!

  2. Hello Dear,
    recently I Purchased new laptop. it’s comes with windows 8.1 but there is no CD in the package for windows. because of that I don’t know the product key. Is it possible to back up the windows and can format later without product key. Is it possible to create a backup to 8gb flash drive, because I made a backup it’s around 40gb.
    please advise,

    regards, Prince AT

      • Hi Chris
        You need to make sure the serial number you are applying matches the serial number of the software you are using.
        Example. Windows 8.1 serial key will not work with a Windows 8 piece of software.
        The Jelly Bean works 100% every time I have used it.

        • Hi Matt
          I did everything and i’m really sure that it matches my product key but still doesn’t work. I think I will just format my computer then I will use your windows 8.1 blue preview and i hope your product key will work.
          Please reply if it works 100%

          • Hi Chris
            My suggestion is to take a screen shot of your serial information and email it to yourself so you at least have a copy of it in case anything goes wrong.
            Yes it works, I tested it about two weeks ago. But look don’t take my word for it. If you want to test it yourself try installing VMware and run up a virtual install to test it so you are confident.
            Find the video here
            Once you have tested it, feel free to format your computer and run it.
            Good luck

  3. hi there, i did everything as you show in the video and all the files are copied to usb, but when i restart my laptop and i try to boot from usb after i pres install it says that doesnt recocnize any device and i cant click next. please help my laptop is emachines and operating system is windows vista home basic

      • Hi Matt,
        I downloaded windows blue 8.1 32bit because i have an 4gb usb that it aproximately 3.73gb and the 64bit windows is around 3.9 when you try to copy the files. I did everything as you show in the video, copied all the files around 1541 with the method of xcopy from cmd and then when i rebbot and i try to boot from usb it reconcized it but after i pres install now it says that a device is mising please select a device or rescan…
        Thank you for replying me…

  4. Hi

    I have a windows 8 Oro license with me. How do I get Windows 8Pro bootcamp iso.

    You have shown links only for Windows 8.1 Blue Preview.




    Reply ↓

  5. Hi Matt. I have a small Australian bought Pendo Pad 8″ tablet running pre-installed “Windows 8.1 with Bing” which is a $0 version sold to a lot of small device manufacturers to get 8.1 out there. I already have made a recovery USB with, also, a full copy of the recovery partition on it. But I want a second and third way to save this tablet if Win8.1 gets stuck in a ‘auto recovery no boot loop’ (again). Unfortunately space is at a premium in this tablet, 5 GB free, it appears it is not enough free disk space to run Windows Media Creation tool and make another USB using the MS website. My plan is to run Belarc Advisor to find the product key. I’ll use another laptop running Windows 7 to run the Media Creation Tool. My questions are: is your method (using cmd prompt) (a.) less space intensive, and (b.) different to, the way of just using the MS Media Creation Tool, or complementary to it? And (c.) will either method allow one to re-install from scratch, i.e. if the Win 8.1 operating system is totally dead, but the hardware is all good? Also, what about the RUFUS software? Any use here or is it redundant for this purpose? Finally, my third method will be to create a system image using either Windows 8.1’s File History: System Image Backup onto a “spinning wheel” USB hard disc, or using a 3rd party software such as AoMei Backupper onto a USB flash drive. Do you have any suggestions or preferences about that, my final plan?

    • Hi Oksanna
      Its a bit hard for me to advise because I don’t have the hardware to test it. However probably the 32bit version of Windows would be smaller then 64bit version. And the I believe the media creation tool and terminal would be very similar if not the same. When you run belarc does it tell you what version of Windows 8.1 you have? Normally it will say its 64 bit or if it doesn’t say anything it will be a 32 bit version.
      When taking an image of a pc I use the Microsoft tool imagex. So what I do is create an imagex bootable USB. Plug that into the usb port and boot into it.
      It gives you a preboot environment like dos screen. You can then run some commands to capture the image of the PC to another drive usally an external USB drive.
      Have a look at this doco. Its excellent I still use it today with all Windows stuff. Shows you how to make a Windows 7 image from scratch. You don’t need to know all of it. However the imagex part might be an option you are looking for. It allows you to create an image with all the correct drivers etc already on the usb.
      Let me know how you get on I would be interested to know if you get it sorted out.

    • HI Jemal
      I am unsure about this. I think those files are already installed and wouldn’t be any use to use to create a USB.
      What PC brand is it?

  6. Hi Matt,
    I have followed instructions up to the end part where I need to copy the command: XCOPY H:*.* F: /E /H /F However, I haven’t got an “E” partition, only C drive. What should I do?

    • Hi Teresa
      You need to copy the files from the source to the USB drive. So just change the letter of your source
      and USB drive to match the ones on your PC.
      So the drive letters are H:\*.* and F:\ just change those to match the ones on your PC, the /E /H /F are just switches, so leave these as they are don’t change them.

  7. Hi!
    I followed topic’s the steps . But i was get a error like missing file : “The operating system couldn’t be loaded because a critical system driver is missing file : \Widows\System32\drivers\USBXHCI.SYS”. What’s the matter ? please kindly help me. Thanks you

  8. My HP desktop with windows 8.1 … cannot repair it self goes through auto repair .. diagonsis cycle… but does not get fix on its it doesnot bootup to windows now… what should I do to fix ?

    • Hi Navneet
      It depends what the problem is. But first try going into the bios settings and run diagnostics on the hardware. Press F2 on start or F9 or F10. πŸ™‚
      Run the diagnostics and if it doesn’t have any errors then it could be software problem. If it does have errors then replace the part of your computer.

  9. hello I used to do it in windows 7 I prepare the USB drive as you mentioned above but I replace the original install.wim with the file that I capture from the WDS server so I can install windows 7 from a USB drive with all the software and drivers that are captured from the original image.
    now I have a modified install.esd file which is about 13Gb I managed to convert the install.wim to install.esd using this command:
    dism /export-image /sourceimagefile:”%WIMFILE%” /Sourceindex:1 /destinationimagefile:install.esd /compress:recovery /checkintegrity
    and replaced the file with modified install.esd and it’s working fine the only difference that now I have to convert from wim to esd which have better compression

  10. Hi
    I get an error message when I try to make it active,

    The selected disk is not a fixed MBR disk.
    The ACTIVE command can only be used on fixed MBR disks

    I can’t go any further, how can I fix this?


    • Hi Jo
      Best bet is backup your data and reload the Mac with OS X fresh. When you do this it should select the right partition.
      Check my videos for Clean install os x.

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