TIP: Create Windows USB Installer using WinToFlash

Whoever predicted the eventual demise of the floppy drive was right. It is seldom used these days that to see one on a computer system characterizes its age. Nowadays, optical drives are used to contain installers. But the trend seems to be going to the direction of flash media in the form of USB flash drives (UFD). This is reasonable as UFD access times are much faster compared to optical drives. The only area where optical media seem to have an advantage is long-term storage and data archives.

While on this subject, we had previously outlined a procedure in installing Windows 7 using a UFD. Another way to transfer the files to the UFD is through WinToFlash. WinToFlash is not limited to creating a USB installer, it can also format, check for errors, and copy WINPE files to the UFD.

So download and install WinToFlash. Its wizard shows you this interface.

There is a catch though, WinToFlash could not format to NTFS. So we have to format the UFD to NTFS first. You can do this the diskpart way or via the unplug policy as outlined in our other articles.

Point the source to the path where Windows 7 installer resides. This can also be the DVD, the ISO, Windows 7 Unified Installer created earlier, or the WINPE source. Do the same for the target UFD or USB hard drive.

On the "Process" tab, untick the "Format drive" option as we need the UFD formatted to NTFS. The option "Check USB drive for errors" will not work for free users. So leaving it ticked or unticked doesn't really matter much.

All that is left is to click "Run". The copy process will begin and a prompt will be given when done.

While we were playing with WinToFlash, we noticed that it works like rsync. Where, if the file is not modified from source and if the same file exists in the target directory, it will no longer be copied (again). This in turn saves you time and energy and write cycles on your UFD. Very efficient indeed!

While the ads are a bit cumbersome, WinToFlash has its uses and is implemented in a clever manner. So go ahead and add it to your arsenal of toolkits. We'd like to have a portable version of this app though.

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