Thursday 12 November 2009

Using One USB Flash Drive To Install Different Windows OSs

We have run into a bit of a snag when we try and reuse the same USB flash drives to install the various Windows operating systems being installed on laptops, workstations, desktops, and servers.

What we were doing was keeping a copy of the OS in a folder and copying it onto the flash drive after deleting whatever was on the drive. We would rename the drive to indicate what OS was on it.

Well, we have been receiving BCD errors whenever we boot from the the reused flash drive.

So, here is what we do to make sure we get a nice clean start every time.

Software needed:

Now, once we have Virtual CloneDrive installed on the workstation, to keep things simple we create a series of folders with the OS’s name on our workbench system desktop.

We then copy the respective OS’s ISO file into that folder.

When we need to change the OS on the USB flash drive we delete the files on it, mount the ISO using Virtual CloneDrive, and copy that ISO’s content onto the flash drive.

This seems to work with no hassles.

To prep a flash drive for booting on a Vista or 7 machine:

  1. Start –> cmd –> right click and Run As Administrator.
  2. Click through the UAC.
  3. Diskpart [Enter]
  4. List Disk [Enter]
    • A list of disks in the system will appear. The USB flash drive should be pretty obvious due to its small size.
  5. Select Disk x [Enter]
    • Again, select the USB flash drive listed above by number.
  6. Clean [Enter]
  7. Create Partition Primary [Enter]
  8. Select Partition 1 [Enter]
  9. Active [Enter]
  10. Format fs=fat32 quick [Enter]
  11. Assign [Enter]
  12. Exit [Enter]

The autorun dialogue should pop up after completing the above procedure with the list of options available for a newly inserted USB flash drive.

At some point we might actually get into Windows Deployment Services . . . but that will not happen until we actually have some time! 8)

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

*Our original iMac was stolen (previous blog post). We now have a new MacBook Pro courtesy of Vlad Mazek, owner of OWN.

Windows Live Writer

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