The right way to create Windows installation media


There are several ways to create a USB stick to install Windows. Chances are you end up with an error during the installation or you (unknowingly) use the wrong partition layout for your HDD/SSD.

Get an ISO

Which version of Windows do you want to install? This guide would work fine with Windows Vista or newer, but you can get an ISO for Windows 10 Home/Pro on this page.

The problem with that page, however, is that it redirects you to a download of a media creation tool if you’re opening the page on a Windows PC. The media creation tool allows you to download an ISO image, but it doesn’t always work properly.

So fiddle with your user agent settings (the hard way)…

or open it up on your smartphone/tablet, select the version of Windows you want to download and send the direct download link to yourself (the easy way).

Get Rufus

Rufus is a simple tool which lets you easily create bootable USB sticks for any kind of operating system. All you have to do is download it. Rufus doesn’t require an installation.

Creating the image

Now plug in your USB stick, fire up Rufus and point it to your USB stick (first dropdown list) and the ISO image (button next to the last dropdown list) you just downloaded. Pay attention to the next steps, because Rufus will delete everything on the USB stick/disk you select.

Select GPT with UEFI for the partition layout.

Pick FAT32 as filesystem (no, NTFS won’t work).

Leave the cluster size at its default setting (4096 bytes).

Make sure the checkmark next to Create bootable disk with ISO image is checked.

Now all you have to do is press Start and wait a few minutes (depends on the speed of your USB device, could take about 15 minutes).

Booting the image

This guide ends here, but if you don’t know how to boot your PC from the installation image you just created, consult the manual of your PC, BIOS or motherboard. Usually you need to press one of the F-buttons while the logo of your motherboard’s manufacturer is displayed.

While you’re in your BIOS, make sure to enable AHCI in the settings of your SATA ports and UEFI in your boot settings. Always pick the listed UEFI device when you select a boot device.