Install Windows 7 to a Netbook

Install Windows 7 to a Netbook
Illustration: Gordon McAlpin

Many netbooks, these days, don’t come with CD or DVD drives at all, meaning a fresh installation of Windows is very difficult. Who wants to have to track down an external drive? Or attempt to install over Wi-Fi, which would take a really long time?

There’s an easier way. Start on your desktop PC for a minute. Grab a thumbdrive that’s handy that you don’t mind erasing. You’ll need to format it in a special way. Plug the thumbdrive in to your desktop PC and put the Windows disc in the drive.

  • Click Start, then type diskpart in the box and press Enter.
  • Type list disk and press Enter to see all of the drives on your PC. You should see your thumbdrive with a number next to it. You’ll recognize it by how much space is on it.
  • Type select disk # and press Enter. (instead of #, type the number corresponding to your thumbdrive.)
  • Type clean and press Enter. This erases everything on it, so make sure you backed up the contents first.
  • Type create partition primary and press Enter. This creates space on the drive that Windows can use.
  • Type active and press Enter. This activates the partition.
  • Type format fs=fat32 quick and press Enter. You’ll be formatting it in such a way that Windows installs from it correctly.
  • Type assign and press Enter. This gives the thumbdrive a drive letter.
  • Now close this window out and click Start, then Computer.
  • Right click on your Windows CD / DVD and click Open.
  • Hit Control-A to select all, then Control-C to copy.
  • Click the back arrow and double click on the drive associated with your newly formatted thumbdrive.
  • Hit Control-V to paste. This will take awhile.

Once it’s all done, plug the USB stick into your netbook and install away! (You might have to restart and boot from the thumbdrive.) The installation should be blazing fast, as thumbdrives read and write much more quickly than disc drives.

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