How to make a Windows 8 USB stick installer – With many machines no longer equipped with DVD drives, USB sticks have become a convenient alternative installation medium. And, since Windows 8 is only available as a digital download or a DVD, it’s sometimes necessary to manually create a bootable USB stick. Here’s how to do it.

Microsoft provides a tool to create Windows USB install sticks, but it didn’t work for me. I tried it a couple of times but it always froze at the same point in the process, maybe for the reasons detailed here.

So I found two simple ways to create a Windows 8 USB stick. All you need is a bootable Windows 8, a USB stick over 4GB, a copy of Windows 8 (DVD or ISO disc image) and a freeware copy of Universal USB Installer.

Universal USB Installer

First, download and install Universal USB Installer. Although it’s engineered for Linux USB installations, it supports Windows 7 and 8 as well.

Once downloaded, insert a blank USB stick. Be sure to note the USB stick’s drive letter. Then run Universal USB Installer.

Then, select Windows 8 from the OS drop-down – you’ll have to scroll down almost to the bottom. Then find the Windows 8 image on your HDD. Finally, select the USB stick’s drive letter. Make sure to click the Format Drive option. Press create, review the options and let the program run.

Creating the Windows 8 USB installer takes about 20 minutes. In the meantime, go grab a frosty beverage. You deserve one.

Command Line Method

Right-click the Windows Command Prompt app, and rut it as the Administrator. When the prompt appears, type ‘diskpart.’ That will open Microsoft’s disk utility.

Windows 8 USB Installer

Image Credit: Microsoft

Next type ‘list disk,’ a command that shows a list of all available disk drives. Note the USB stick’s drive number – probably the easiest way to do that is by its size. Be careful to find the USB stick’s correct number.

Then input ‘select disk X,’ where X is the USB stick drive number. Type ‘clean wipe the disk,’ and create a new primary partition by typing in ‘create partition primary.’ Select the new partition with ‘select partition X,’ and mark it active by typing, you guessed it: ‘active.’

Format that drive with format fs=fat32. Go grab a frosty beverage. It took about 90 minutes during my test. Finally, type ‘assign’ to give the stick a drive letter.  Close the command prompt app.

Now copy all of the Windows 8 files from your CD or ISO onto the USB stick. And there you have it, a bootable Windows 8 USB stick. Happy installing!

Max Cherney
Max A. Cherney is a San Francisco based tech journalist. Email tips to [email protected]
Max Cherney
Max Cherney
Tags: Gadgets & Devices,Technology