Windows 10 Won’t Install From USB - 7 Fix Methods To Try
Installing Windows 10 using a bootable USB drive is not a complicated task. The original Windows setup has the flash drive option so you can install the operating system. However, the USB boot option can have some flaws while you’re in that process.
And since most modern computers don’t use an optical drive, it can be frustrating to have problems when you need to format your PC.
In this article, we will explore several problems that users have had while installing Windows 10 from a USB device and how you can fix them.
Install Windows on a USB Flash Drive (Bootable USB)
If you’re trying to install Windows 10, you can use a USB stick and turn it into a bootable USB drive.
This is possible thanks to the Windows Media Creation Tool that allows you to write the Windows Iso file into a bootable drive.
Creating Installation media is not hard. You only need to follow the steps that the setup shows and after a few minutes, you’re done. To create a bootable USB, you need to have at least 8 Gb of free space and the right format so that your motherboard can read in the “boot from USB” option.
The thing with the USB drive is that it can be damaged in the ISO installation process or even have other issues such as using the incorrect USB models.
Unused device drivers – also known as unused USB controllers – can also be a potential risk when installing an operating system because of corrupted USB device drivers.
Problems Using a USB Drive To Install Windows 10
When installing Windows 10, some issues like glitches, hardware interference, electrical problems, and more can come out. And since you are installing the operating system with a USB drive, this device is also susceptible, even more than an external disk.
Below you can find the top issues you may encounter while installing your Windows system with a not-that-secure boot option like the USB drive.
Physical Errors With The Windows 10 Bootable USB
One of the first errors with USB installation may be a faulty USB device.
This might happen if you can’t find it in the BIOS setup menu on the BIOS screen or because there was a problem in the “Create Installation Media” setup.
There’s also the possibility of using a bootable Windows USB that doesn’t have a compatible port. Since many computers have traditional USB and USB 2.0, those devices with USB-C or other sorts of connections could have a problem.
The Boot Device Is Unsupported
Some computers simply don't support a USB drive to boot Windows. This doesn’t mean that your device is broken; it just means that the PC can’t stand this way of formatting.
If you want to make sure which methods your computer supports, you need to restart your computer and try to enter BIOS. Here you can see which booting devices are supported.
Format Not Compatible
You may have to format your USB in FAT32 format or NTFS file system so your computer can recognize it in the boot menu. This is part of the hardware incompatibility that may occur during a software installation process.
We’ve described how to make your USB compatible in the USE FAT32 Format section.
EFI/UEFI PC Isn’t Configured
When EFI/UEFI is not configured, it can interfere with the whole process. So, before installing Windows 10, ensure that you have your computer configuration tuned according to the booting device you’re using.
We explain how to solve this issue in the Check EFI/UEFI Support section.
Not Enough Space Available In The USB Disk
The original Windows setup USB requires more space than what the requirements say. This is because it needs a bit more disk space to transfer, rewrite and support the installation process.
If you don’t have enough storage space – at least 26 Gb – or you have low disk memory, you won’t finish the process. And if you do, you may have a few errors or bugs because of it.
So, if you want to make sure that you successfully install windows with bootable media, you should have good disk management.
ISO Image Issues
When you are creating the removable media, you shouldn’t mess with it. If you do, all the files – or some of them – could be corrupted or damaged, and as a result, your bootable device will be useless.
If the installation fails because of this, the solution would be reinstalling Windows ISO from scratch.
Insufficient Hardware Resources
Just like with another software installation, Windows has requirements.
You can check the system settings on the image below to make sure that your computer has enough resources to support Windows 10.
If not, you may be able to install the software without trouble booting it, but you may have issues running it.
The USB Port Isn’t Working
If the USB port isn’t working it may be because of two possibilities:
- Your computer has broken ports.
- You have unused USB drivers that you need to activate.
In the case of the first option, you won’t be able to use the USB flash drive as a booting device. On the contrary, if it’s just a matter of drivers, you can fix this by manually activating them. Here’s how you do it:
- Press the Windows key and type “Device Manager.”
- Once the new window opens, select “Universal Serial Bus controllers.”
- Double-click the selection to see how many USB ports you have available.
- Right-click on each USB port and select “Enable” if they appear as deactivated.
- If they seem active but your computer doesn’t recognize them, select Uninstall and restart your PC.
This should reactivate the USB ports drivers so they are useful again.
How To Fix Issues With USB Not Installing Windows
Now that we have expressed some of the most common problems when installing Windows with an original USB, here we have summarized the best methods to fix them.
You only need to start the commands that are down below and you’ll be fine.
Use a Different Booting Device
If your computer doesn’t allow you to boot from a USB and you can’t afford to buy a new computer, then what you have left is to use another booting device.
Besides using a different USB drive, you could try an external hard drive, an internal disk with a new Windows, or other efficient solutions.
On the other hand, you can also try using alternative USBs like the computer restores USB (similar to the Windows recovery disk.)
You can also create another bootable USB with the Windows Media Creation Tool and then make a clean install.
Windows Update Troubleshooter
Windows Update can help you naturally upgrade your software without having to access BIOS and enable booting or having to directly download the operating system from the website. Most modern computers do it like that, and you only have to have enough free space to upgrade your OS.
Now, there may be occasions when this feature has some flaws, and you need to fix them before you can update your system.
The Windows Update Troubleshooter can help you find problems in case you don’t know what isn’t functioning properly on your computer. When you configure the troubleshoot settings, you can detect and fix the issues you are facing.
The thing with this program is that you don’t always find what the issue is, especially if your computer falls into the physical damage category.
To run a troubleshoot scan, you need to follow these steps:
- Press the Windows key and write Troubleshoot.
- Select Troubleshoot Settings and then System Settings.
- Select Get Up and Running or Other Troubleshooters.
- Choose Windows Update.
After that, it should all be good and running. There’s no need to use recovery CDs or similar.
Use FAT32 Format
To format your computer with the USB format option, you need to make sure it has the correct format.
If you don’t do this, it will probably show an error message or your modern computer won’t recognize the USB among the boot options.
So, the best thing you can do is format your USB and change the NTFS format – which is the predetermined one – to FAT32.
Here’s how you do it:
- Insert your USB, open File Explorer and select disk (USB.)
- Right-click it and go to Properties.
- Go to the USB filesystem in the General tab and see what format it has.
If the USB isn’t in FAT32, you will need to reformat it and create a fresh copy of your Windows ISO. To do that, you have to:
- Back in File Explorer, go to My Computer and find the USB icon.
- Right-click on it and select Format.
- A dialog with a configuration option will show up where you can choose the FAT32.
- Click Proceed or Continue and wait until it finishes.
There’s another way you can format your USB drive, and it’s using a CMD window.
- Open the CMD and type Diskpart.
- Press enter and then write List disk.
- Press enter again and wait until a list comes out with their sizes.
- Select the drive that you want to erase. In this case, the USB.
- Choose Clean and wait until a sign that says “DiskPart succeeded in cleaning the disk” appears.
- Close the CMD.
With your formatted drive, you can make a new Windows 10 installation on your USB, and your laptop or desktop will read it.
Check EFI/UEFI Support
A practical explanation about why you can’t install Windows 10 on your computer using a USB is because EFI/UEFI could be triggering bad responses.
You see, manufacturers like Dell, Asus, or HP have special steps you need to follow to alter the boot order so you can start your computer from a USB.
As such, you will need to check some on-screen instructions to configure this. You can allow Legacy Boot – to have boot priority – in the EFI setup.
Keep in mind that you need to restart your computer and complete a startup sequence.
Here’s how you do it:
- Turn on your computer or restart it until you see the manufacturer’s logo. Press the special key – usually works using F8, F12, or the Delete keys – that you’ll see on the screen so you can enter the BIOS. You may have to do this twice or three times before you nail it.
- Select the UEFI setup to enter the configuration option.
- Find UEFI/Legacy Boot, Boot Option FIlter, and Legacy Support, among others. This will change according to your EFI firmware.
- Once you have modified the PC to support booting your drive on the Legacy BIOS mode, you’ll get to jumpstart your computer from the USB.
Check Booting Method On Legacy BIOS Mode
Sometimes your computer isn’t starting from your USB because it doesn’t have the configuration. To set this up, you will have to go to the startup computer menu and select the one that your PC can support booting.
There’s no need for a command prompt, but just like with the previous method, it may take a few tries before you get it.
Reinstall the ISO System Files If They Are Corrupted
Since you’re installing an ISO image into the USB, there’s the possibility that they weren’t properly copied or are corrupted.
If this happens, your only option is to reinstall from scratch a new version if you want to fix Windows.
These detailed steps make it easier than you think:
- Reformat your USB using the FAT32 format.
- Reinstall the ISO to fix Windows 10 corrupted files.
- Restart your computer and start the installation process (make sure you have the correct UEFI mode.)
Bonus Tip - Free Space From Your PC
You may think that partition space doesn’t matter at all. But the truth is that if you want to have Windows 10 installed properly on your old or new pc, you need where to store it.
So, this operating system requires at least 20 GB of free space to create a backup, add all its features, and ensure correct performance. It doesn’t matter whether you use a USB or a different method.
You can empty your PC’s hard or solid-state drive by erasing all those heavy programs like games or software to work such as the Adobe Creative Suite.
Activating Windows 10 After Installation
If any of these methods have worked for you and now you’re able to see the Windows home screen, you still have one step to complete: activating your operating system.
When you start Windows without a cd key, you can’t access all the features it has to offer. So, you will need a unique key that ensures that you have legally obtained your software and it can connect to the whole database of software from Microsoft.
You can find the specific key when you search for third-party sellers like RoyalCDKeys, where you can obtain Windows 10 CD keys or Windows 11 CD Keys for low prices.
Once you have your key, you can activate it in two ways:
- Using it while installing Windows 10.
- After Windows 10 is installed, you can go to Activation Settings and type down the key so you can have all the features enabled.
Windows 10 Won’t Install From USB - Final Thoughts
The times when you had to use a DVD as a default method to install Windows are gone. Now, a more flexible device that boots the operating system is here.
The USB is easier to carry, less delicate, and sometimes more efficient than any other method used before.
However, it can have its flaws, and the issues above confirm that. Everyone has a different computer, so things that work for your computer may not work for someone else.
Even though the bases remain the same, and the fixing methods mentioned above will work on all computers, you should try them all first before saying that you can’t install Windows 10 using a USB.
Before you get started on this journey, we recommend you make a backup of your data and save it as well as possible.
You don’t know if during the process you want to restore it. You could use Easeus Todo Backup or another program that makes it easier to copy your information.