Fix Guide: Windows Won’t Install From USB

Fix & Repair Solved issue

Question asked by:

Mike W.


Windows is not installing from USB

Hello, digital wizards,

So, I've set off on a Windows install journey, and my USB refuses to work properly!
It doesn't boot and installation doesn't start! Any advice?
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When you are about to install or upgrade Windows on your PC, have you ever found yourself unexpectedly stopped by an annoying error notice that said, “Windows won’t install from USB”? You’re not alone. Surprisingly, this problem occurs frequently enough to disturb even the most tech-savvy individuals. But fear not! We’re here to help you comfortably and easily identify and fix this issue.

Windows Won't Install From USB Error

Let’s examine the typical causes of this problem first. Often, an outdated BIOS1 setting or a mismatched USB drive could be the issue. Sometimes, little details can cause trouble, such as a USB stick that is incorrectly formatted in a file system or is not designated as the primary boot device in your computer’s BIOS settings. Half the battle in dealing with the issue is resolved when you understand these causes.

Now, how does this error specifically show up? It can show up in many ways, such as error messages stating that ‘the device cannot be booted’ or other installation errors that occur during the procedure. There are situations where your computer may not even detect the USB disk. While these symptoms can vary, they tend to be frustrating for most people.

This article would be your ultimate guide to getting rid of the Windows won’t boot from USB error for both Windows 10 and Windows 11. We’ve outlined 6 easy-to-follow solutions and 8 advanced solutions. Begin with the simple fixes and then progress to the more advanced ones. By following these multiple effective solutions, you can successfully install Windows on your computer using a USB.

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TL;DR: Quick Ways on How to Fix Windows Not Installing From USB?

In a hurry? Here’s a brief overview of the fast fixes:

  • Use a different USB Drive
  • Ensure that the USB is Bootable
  • Launch the Windows Update Troubleshooter
  • Ensure the USB is Formatted as FAT322
  • Test the USB on another PC
  • Ensure that the PC is set to boot and install Windows from a USB and that the USB drive is set to be the first boot option

These are just the initial steps to successfully install your Windows from a USB. While addressing technical issues can be complex, with the right guidance, the path becomes clearer. Stay with me as we go into more detail about each option to make sure you have all the information you need to tackle this problem.

Easy Solutions for Fixing Windows Won’t Install From USB (Time to Complete: ~10-20 mins)

Now that you have your USB drive, let’s begin! Let’s walk through a few simple fixes that often solve this issue without requiring highly technical knowledge. 

Solution 1: Use a Different USB Drive

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Sometimes, the most basic solutions work the best. Try using a different USB drive if your PC is refusing to cooperate with you when you try to install Windows using one. How to do it is as follows:

  • Examine any physical harm: Check your USB device to see if it has any physical damage. It’s time for a replacement if it appears damaged or worn out.
Check USB
  • Shift Installation Files: Transfer the “Windows setup” files -Backup files to an external drive-This can be accomplished by utilizing programs like Rufus or the Windows Media Creation Tool to create a bootable USB device.
Create a bootable USB device

Solution 2: Ensure that the USB is Bootable

The USB drive needs to be bootable for your PC to install Windows from it. This is a way to ensure that:

  • You can use tools like Rufus or the Windows Media Creation Tool for Bootable USB Creation. These tools can help you make your USB drive bootable with a few clicks.
  • Check Bootability to make sure the operation was successful in the tool’s interface after making your bootable USB.

Solution 3: Launch the Windows Update Troubleshooter

The Windows Update Troubleshooter is a useful tool included with Windows that can solve some of these confusing problems.

  • Open the “Settings” application on your computer.
  • Choose “Update & Security” and then “Troubleshoot’.
  • After choosing “Windows Update,” choose “Run the troubleshooter”. Follow the directions displayed on screen.
Windows Update Troubleshooter

Solution 4: Ensure the USB is Formatted as FAT32

The file system of the USB device may be a deal breaker. Windows installation often works best with the FAT32 file system. To format your USB to FAT32, follow these steps:

  • Make sure you have backed up all of the crucial data on the USB before formatting.
  • Right-click on the USB drive under “This PC” or “My Computer”, select “Format”, choose “FAT32” as the file system, and press “Start”.

Solution 5: Test the USB on another PC

Sometimes, your PC may be the problem instead of the USB. To find the source of the issue, try the USB on a different computer. How should you proceed?

  • Connect your bootable USB to a different computer.
  • Check to see if the second computer can boot from the USB and detect it. If it functions properly on another computer, there may be a hardware or setting problem with yours.
Connect USB to a different computer

Solution 6: Ensure that the PC is set to boot and that the USB drive is set to be the first boot option

This solution ensures that your computer is ready to welcome Windows from the USB, making the installation process smoother. By configuring the PC to prioritize the USB drive during startup, it ensures that the Windows installation process begins smoothly. This step is critical to avoid potential conflicts and ensures a smooth transition into the installation process. It’s a simple adjustment but it plays a pivotal role in the successful installation of Windows from a USB drive.

  • Restart your computer and access the “BIOS/UEFI” settings during startup (usually by pressing Del, F2, or Esc).
  • Navigate to the “Boot Order” or “Boot Priority” section.
  • Locate the list of boot devices and set the USB drive as the first boot option.
  • Save changes and exit the “BIOS/UEFI” .
Set USB to be the first boot option
  • Ensure the USB drive containing the Windows installation files is connected to the computer.
  • Restart your computer, and it will now prioritize booting from the USB drive.

Remember that these solutions are meant to be easy to use and don’t require much technical knowledge. Follow the instructions, and you should soon find yourself beyond this problem.

Advanced Solutions for Fixing Windows Won’t Install From USB (Time to Complete: ~15-25 mins)

If you’ve already tried the simple ways to fix the Error “Windows not installing from USB” without success, it’s time to try some more advanced solutions. These steps might be a bit more technical, but I’m here to guide you through them with clear, step-by-step instructions. Let’s get started!

Adv. Solution 1: Update the USB Driver

Outdated or corrupt USB drivers can be the potential cause of the error. Updating the drivers could be the solution to ensure a successful installation.

  • Open “Device Manager”: Right-click on “This PC” or “My Computer”, select “Manage”, and then choose “Device Manager”.
  • Find USB Controllers: In Device Manager, look for “Universal Serial Bus controllers”.
  • Update Drivers: Right-click on each USB controller and select “Update driver”. Choose “Search automatically for updated driver software”.

Adv. Solution 2. Enable CSM or Legacy Boot Mode, and Disable Secure Boot Control

CSM (Compatibility Support Module) or Legacy Boot Mode is an older method that ensures compatibility with both new and old hardware. Secure Boot Control, on the other hand, adds an extra layer of security but might hinder certain installations. Here’s how you can make changes to these:

  • Restart your computer and access the “BIOS/UEFI” settings during startup (usually by pressing Del, F2, or Esc).
  • Find the “Boot” or “Security” tab, and locate “Secure Boot”.
  • To Disable Secure Boot, change the “Secure Boot” setting to “Disabled”.
  • Now, look for an option like “CSM” (Compatibility Support Module) or “Legacy Boot” and enable it.
Enable CSM or Legacy Boot Mode and Disable Secure Boot Control

Adv Solution 3. Change UEFI or Legacy BIOS Boot Mode

If your PC is set to the wrong boot mode, it won’t recognize the USB drive. Switching between UEFI and Legacy BIOS modes can solve the compatibility issue.

  • As before, restart your PC and enter the settings. (usually by pressing a key like F2, Del, or Esc during boot-up).
  • Find the “Boot” tab and look for “Boot Mode” or similar.
  • To switch boot mode, change the setting to either “UEFI” or ‘Legacy”, depending on what it was previously set to.
Change UEFI or Legacy BIOS Boot Mode

Adv. Solution 4. Create a Bootable USB with Windows Media Creation Tool

The Windows Media Creation Tool is a reliable way to create a bootable USB drive. It’s particularly useful when you think that the issue might be with your installation media.

  • Visit the official Microsoft website and download the “Windows Media Creation Tool”.
  • Open the tool and select “Create installation media for another PC”.
  • Choose the appropriate language, edition, and architecture for Windows.
  • Make sure your USB drive is plugged in and select it as the destination for the bootable media.

Adv. Solution 5. Ensure the ISO Image is Copied Correctly on the USB

An incorrectly copied ISO file can cause installation failures. It’s important to make sure that the ISO image is transferred to the USB correctly.

  • If you suspect the ISO file might be corrupted, re-download it from the official Microsoft site.
  • Use ISO to USB Tools like Rufus to correctly copy the ISO image to your USB drive.
Use Rufus to correctly copy the ISO image to your USB drive.

Adv. Solution 6. Check If the USB Gets Corrupted

USB drives can get corrupted over time, leading to various issues, including installation errors. Here’s how to check and fix a corrupted USB:

  • Connect your USB to your PC, open “This PC”, right-click on the USB drive, select “Properties”, go to the “Tools” tab, and click on “Check”.
  • Allow the tool to scan the USB drive for errors and fix them. This process can resolve issues caused by bad sectors or file system errors.
Check If the USB Gets Corrupted

Additional Troubleshooting Tips

  • Try a Different USB Port version: If you’re using USB 3.0 ports, try switching to a USB 2.0 port, as some older BIOS versions have compatibility issues with USB 3.0. This solution would also help make sure if there is any broken USB port, in this case the USB Flash drive wouldn’t work.
  • BIOS Update: If none of the above solutions work, check if your BIOS needs an update. Visit your motherboard manufacturer’s website for guidance on updating the BIOS. 
  • Keep Your USB Simple: Avoid using USB hubs or extensions when installing Windows. Connect the USB drive directly to your PC for best results.
  • Using alternative booting device: In addition to attempting a different USB drive, consider trying alternatives like an external hard drive, a new internal disk with a fresh Windows installation, or other effective solutions.

When it comes to the advanced fixes, it’s important to proceed with caution. Making incorrect changes to BIOS settings and updating drivers incorrectly can have a significant impact on how your system works. If you’re not confident about performing these steps, it’s best to get help from a professional.

Is The Issue Fixed Now?

Resolving the “Windows won’t install from USB” error can be a bit challenging. We hope one of these solutions fixed the error and got your Windows installation working as it should.

Another issue some people experience after installing Windows — is that the system requires to re-enter the product key. But what if you forgot it or lost it? Do not worry, we have a Windows key recovery guide here.

If the error is still not fixed, we recommend downloading and running the auto-fix software offered below, it helps in resolving most of the PC errors.

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If your Windows USDB installation error is still not fixed — feel free to reach out to us via email and share your problem.

  1. What is PC BIOS? – via Techtarget []
  2. What is FAT32? – via []
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About the author
Jack Palentino - Expert Author, QA

Jack works at from the beginning. He’s been a colleague with the owner Iggy & who consulted people with their PC issues for years.

He fixed and custom-developed various Windows apps. And now Jack is overlooking the QA processes on WindowsGuided and writes expert guides on various PC error fixes.