Installing Windows 11 from a USB drive is easier than it sounds. Here is a complete step-by-step guide to getting Windows 11 running on your computer.
Windows 11 has created a lot of buzz amongst tech enthusiasts. It has an engaging interface coupled with a bunch of user-friendly features. If you plan to switch to Windows 11 on your PC, here’s how you install it from a bootable USB drive.
Creating a bootable USB drive might seem like a highly technical and strenuous task, but with the right software and a little time to spare, you can easily create one. However, before you get too excited, there are two requirements that must be met before you can install Windows 11. You have to enable ‘Secure Boot’ and ‘TPM 2.0’ from the ‘BIOS Settings’. Once done, proceed to the installation.
We have divided the article into two sections, the first one details the steps to create a Windows 11 USB drive and the second one walks you through the steps to install Windows 11 from the drive.
Create a Bootable Windows 11 USB Drive
Before you proceed, make sure the USB drive you would be using has 8 GB or more storage. And you have downloaded Windows 11 Preview ISO file on your computer.
To create a bootable drive, we’ll use the Rufus app. Go to rufus.ie to download the program and then launch/open the program.
If a single external USB drive or disk is connected, it will be listed under ‘Device’. In case you have connected more than one, click on the ‘Device’ drop-down menu and select the desired option.
Next, ensure that ‘Disk or ISO image’ is selected under ‘Boot selection’, and then click on ‘SELECT’ to browse and pick the ISO image that you want to burn to the drive.
In the ‘File Explorer’ window that opens, locate the file, select it and then click on ‘Open’ at the bottom.
Under the ‘Image option’, you will have the two types listed in the drop-down menu, ‘Standard Windows installation’ and ‘Windows To Go’. The former is selected by default and it’s recommended that you go with the default settings in place. Also, Rufus will select the ‘Partition scheme’ based on your device. In the case of ‘UEFI’ Bios Mode, the partition scheme would be set to GPT while in the case of ‘Legacy’, it will be set to MBR.
Again, it’s recommended that you go with the default settings for the ‘Format’ Options’ as well, although you could change the ‘Volume Label’, if required. Also, you will find a ‘Show advanced format options’ section which is to be left as it is if for a quick and simple process. Finally, click on ‘Start’ to create a bootable Windows 11 USB drive.
You will now receive a warning box notifying that the data on the USB drive will be deleted. Click ‘OK’ to continue.
The process will start and might take a couple of minutes to complete. Once it’s complete, unplug the USB drive. Now it’s time we install Windows 11 that we just flashed to the USB drive.
Installing Windows 11 from USB Drive
Now that you have a bootable Windows 11 USB drive, it’s time we start the installation process. Turn off the system on which you want to install the Windows and plug in the USB drive.
Note: We installed Windows 11 on an HP Compaq laptop. The ‘Startup Menu’ interface and keys may differ from one manufacturer to the other. Look up the user manual or search the web to get an idea for your system, although the concept remains pretty much the same.
Now, press the power button to turn on the computer and press
ESC as soon as the display lights up to enter the ‘Startup Menu’. Next, press the
F9 key to enter the ‘Boot Option Menu’.
Now, select the USB drive that you earlier booted using the arrow key and then press
The system will take a couple of minutes to get things ready, do not turn off the computer during that period even if things don’t appear to be progressing at all. After a while, the ‘Windows Setup’ screen will appear.
Select the ‘Language’, ‘Time and currency format’, and the ‘Keyboard or input method’, and then click on ‘Next’ at the bottom.
Next, click on the ‘Install now’ option.
The ‘Activate Windows’ screen will launch next. Enter the product key in the space provided and click on ‘Next’ at the bottom. However, if you don’t want to enter the product key right away, click on the ‘I don’t have a product key’ option, proceed with the installation, and enter it once Windows 11 is installed.
Now, select the ‘Operating System’ that you want to install from the list and then click on ‘Next’ at the bottom. We installed the ‘Windows 11 Pro’ OS.
The next page lists the notices and license terms of Windows 11. Once done reading, select the checkbox for ‘I accept the license terms’, and click on ‘Next’.
You will now be presented with two options for installation. If you select ‘Upgrade’, your files, application, and settings are moved to Windows 11. However, many users encounter an error while trying to go for ‘Upgrade’. If you select ‘Custom’, all the data on the system will be removed and a fresh copy of Windows 11 will be installed. If you are encountering an error with the ‘Upgrade’ option or simply want to start things fresh with Windows 11, select the ‘Custom’ option.
Note: Selecting the ‘Custom’ option will delete the data. Therefore, it’s recommended that you create a backup of the important files and programs, if needed.
Next, select the drive in which you want to install Windows 11 and click on ‘Next’ at the bottom.
A notification box might appear informing you that if the partition you have chosen contains files of the previous version, they will be moved to a new folder. Click on ‘OK’ to continue.
That’s it! WIndows 11 will now start to install on the computer.
Wait for the installation process to complete and the computer to restart. Now, set up the Windows by following the on-screen instructions and you will be working on Windows 11 in few minutes.
We have discussed one of the simplest methods of booting a USB drive and the whole installation process, however, if you are tech-savvy and have a fair understanding of all the features, you are free to explore.