How do I install Windows 11 using a bootable USB drive?

A bootable USB drive is the best way to clean install Windows 11. But setting up a flash drive with the required files, let alone using it to boot into a computer and set up Microsoft’s latest operating system from scratch, can be daunting. Fortunately, the procedure is not as difficult as it seems.

The instructions below will walk you through everything you need to know about installing Windows 11 using a bootable USB drive.

How to Create a Bootable Windows 11 USB Drive

It is possible to create a bootable Windows 11 USB drive using Microsoft’s Media Creation Tool. It handles everything from formatting the USB drive with the correct format to downloading and setting up the files needed to boot into Windows 11 Setup.

But before you get started, you’ll need the following:

  • A USB stick with at least 8 gigabytes of storage space. You will lose all data on the flash drive, so backup everything in it before proceeding.
  • A PC with Windows 8, 8.1, 10 or 11.
  • An Internet connection that can download 5-6 gigabytes of data.

1. Go to the Download Windows 11 page on Microsoft. Then scroll down to the Create Windows 11 installation media section and select download now to get the Media Creation Tool.

2. Enter the downloaded . from MediaCreationToolW11.exe file to start the Media Creation Tool. You don’t need to install it, but you do need to give it administrator privileges.

3. Select To accept agree to Microsoft’s software license terms.

4. Specify the Language (e.g. United States) and Edition (Windows11).

5. Connect the USB drive and select the radio button next to USB stick

6. Select the correct USB stick from the list below Removable Drives

Warning: The Media Creation Tool will permanently erase all data on the USB drive. If you haven’t already, back it up before selecting Next one

7. Wait for the Media Creation Tool to download and set up the USB drive. Depending on the speed of the internet connection, this can take up to an hour (or even more).

8. Select Finish† The USB drive is ready to install Windows 11. Unplug it if you plan to install Windows 11 on another PC.

Remark: You can also create a bootable Windows 11 USB on Mac† However, you should rely on a workaround as the Media Creation Tool does run on macOS.

How do I install Windows 11 using a bootable USB drive?

Windows 11 has strict system requirements such as support for TPM (Trusted Platform Module) 2.0. So unless you plan to install it on a relatively recent desktop or laptop model, make sure the PC is Windows 11 compatible using Microsoft’s PC health check app.

Provided that your PC meets the Windows 11 system requirements, then the trickiest part is accessing your PC’s Boot Manager. That consists of pressing the relevant key when starting up the computer, such as: F2F9or F12† It is best to contact the PC manufacturer for the exact key. For example, you can open Boot Manager on Acer laptops by pressing F9

After calling the Boot Manager, use the Upwards and down arrow keys to select the USB drive and press Enter to start it up. If you’re having trouble accessing, you should: access the UEFI and change the boot order

After booting from the USB drive, you should see the Windows 11 installation screen. Follow the steps below to install Windows 11.

1. Specify your language, time and current format, and keyboard or input method and select Next one

2. Select Install now

3. Enter your Windows product key and select Next one† If you don’t have one or want to activate Windows 11 later, select I don’t have a product key

4. Select the version of the operating system you want to install, e.g. Windows 11 Home or Windows 11 Pro† Make sure it matches your Windows 11 license.

5. Accept the software license terms from Microsoft and select Next one

6. Select the option labeled Amended to clean install Windows 11. To upgrade from an earlier version of the operating system while keeping your data intact, select Upgrade instead of.

7. Choose the drive or partition where you want to install Windows 11 and select Next one† If you choose to perform a clean install in the above step, you will lose all data on the drive or partition.

8. Wait for Windows Setup to copy and install Windows 11 from the bootable USB drive.

Your PC will restart automatically after Windows Setup has completed the installation of Windows 11. Next, you need to complete the operating system installation on your PC.

How to finish installing Windows 11 on your PC

Once you’ve installed Windows 11, you’ll need to work your way through several pages of options to complete the operating system setup. These are self-explanatory and include specifying the country or region, adjusting your privacy settings, configuring Windows Hello, and so on. Here’s a quick summary of the most important.

Enter a unique PC name

To connect to your computer from other devices, you must enter a unique name that you can easily recognize. It cannot consist of numbers only or be longer than 15 characters.

Sign in with your Microsoft account

Signing in with a Microsoft account allows you to sync settings and preferences across Windows devices and sign you in to stock apps like Microsoft Edge and Skype. if your Windows license is linked to your Microsoft accountLogging in also helps with activation.

If you don’t want to log in, you can choose an offline account by selecting Login options Offline account

Restore or set up as a new device

If you signed in with a Microsoft account, you can decide whether to restore settings, preferences, and apps from your previous Windows installation. If not, make sure to select the Set up as new device option to reset your PC from scratch.

After you are done setting up Windows 11, you may need to wait a while for Windows Setup to finish installing any pending updates. You can then immediately get started with Windows 11.

If you have yet to activate Windows 11, don’t forget to arrange that by going to . to go Get startedSettingsSystemActivation

Don’t forget to keep Windows 11 up to date

You are done installing Windows 11 using the bootable USB drive you created. Congratulations! You should now make it a point to keep the operating system up to date. Go to SettingsWindows Update to manage Windows Update. That way, you not only get the latest security fixes and performance upgrades, but also avoid known bugs or issues that ruin your Windows 11 experience.

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