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Windows 7: Is it possible to install windows 7 from a FAT32 formatted usb drive?

09 Jul 2014   #1
norsul

Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit
 
 
Is it possible to install windows 7 from a FAT32 formatted usb drive?

I'm currently trying to install windows 7 from a usb on my laptop, however I seem to have a strange issue - when I go to set the boot priority in my BIOS, it does not list any NTFS formatted usb drives as boot options. I've tried this with multiple usb drives formatting them to both NTFS and FAT32: whenever a usb drive is formatted as FAT32, the BIOS acknowledges it as a boot option, if it's formatted as NTFS, the BIOS refuses to accept the drive's existence and doesn't show it as an option.

So my question is: can I just use a FAT32 formatted usb drive, boot from it and and install windows 7 that way? After all, there aren't any files larger than 4GB in windows 7's installation files, so it shouldn't be an issue, or are there other concerns? I am asking because all of the tutorials about installing windows 7 from a usb always tell you to format it to NTFS, but I don't know if they do that just because NTFS is the newer format or because there are actually some kind of issues wiht using FAT32.

I guess I should also point out these things, because they might be relevant:
- I used this guide to create a bootable usb: Install Windows 7 From USB

- I tried using the bootable usb created using the guide above with my desktop pc and everything worked just fine, i.e. I managed to boot from it and reach the installation screen

- I am running windows 8 and ubuntu dual booted on a single hard drive. I should note that I did install ubuntu from a usb drive on this laptop, so booting from a usb should be supported at least in some way on this machine.

- I tried to find out about my BIOS a bit more, but all I could find is that the BIOS version is P03RAN and it also says Aptio setup utility on the bottom.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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09 Jul 2014   #2
Brink

64-bit Windows 10 Pro
 
 

Hello Norsul, and welcome to Seven Forums.

Yes, the USB flash drive can be formatted with either NTFS or FAT32.

USB Windows 7 Installation Key Drive - Create

Sometimes with NTFS you may have to select to temporarily boot from the USB flash drive from the motherboard's boot menu.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Jul 2014   #3
norsul

Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Brink View Post
Hello Norsul, and welcome to Seven Forums.
Yes, the USB flash drive can be formatted with either NTFS or FAT32.
First of all, thank you for the answer. So what I did was create a bootable usb using my guide (I did this before I saw your answer) and try to install windows 7 from that. This time the BIOS recognized that there is a usb device connected and listed it as a boot option, but unfortunately it refuses to boot from it (i.e. either chooses the next thing in the priority list or, if I disable the other options, just throws me back into the BIOS after I save the changes and leave). I'll check your guide to see if there's something I did wrong with creating a bootable usb, but I think the issue lies elsewhere.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Brink View Post
Sometimes with NTFS you may have to select to temporarily boot from the USB flash drive from the motherboard's boot menu.
I am not exactly sure what you're talking about here, isn't this exactly the thing that I was trying to do and failed? My point is that I CANNOT select the usb drive from the motherboard's boot menu if it is formatted as NTFS, because it doesn't list it as an option.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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09 Jul 2014   #4
Brink

64-bit Windows 10 Pro
 
 

I would just use FAT32. Using OPTION ONE in the tutorial I posted above would make it even easier to create the USB if you have an ISO file.

I wasn't clear if you had used the boot menu (not boot order in BIOS) or not, so just mentioned it.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Jul 2014   #5
norsul

Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Brink View Post
I would just use FAT32. Using OPTION ONE in the tutorial I posted above would make it even easier to create the USB if you have an ISO file.
Turns out your guide was more complete and I've finally reached success! The problem was that I had to disable secure boot and set it to use CSM OS instead of UEFI OS, which is something that the other guides did not mention. Also I didn't know that there was a distinction between BIOS and UEFI, I just assumed that everything that you get into by mashing a function key during startup is a BIOS .

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Brink View Post
I wasn't clear if you had used the boot menu (not boot order in BIOS) or not, so just mentioned it.
Ok now I'm getting confused again, are you saying that the boot menu and boot order in BIOS are different things? If so, then which one am I accessing when I mash that function key (F2 for my samsung laptop) during startup? This isn't all that relevant since the problem is solved already, but I'm still curious.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Jul 2014   #6
Brink

64-bit Windows 10 Pro
 
 

Glad the tutorial was able to help you get it sorted.

The BIOS boot priority order is what is always used, and is changed in your BIOS settings. Normally you would have say the DVD drive listed 1st and the Windows drive second.
Is it possible to install windows 7 from a FAT32 formatted usb drive?-bios_boot_devicepriority.gif
The boot menu is just where you select to temporarily boot from a list of drive for just that one time. Usually, you should briefly see what key (ex: F11) to press for "Boot Menu" next to the same what key to press to enter "Setup" or "BIOS" at boot.
Is it possible to install windows 7 from a FAT32 formatted usb drive?-boot_menu.png
Is it possible to install windows 7 from a FAT32 formatted usb drive?-boot_screen-1.jpg

Is it possible to install windows 7 from a FAT32 formatted usb drive?-bios-boot-menu-message.png


My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Jul 2014   #7
norsul

Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit
 
 

Well, looks like I ran into a wall again... So I am trying to install windows 7 on the partition where windows 8 was (due to a complicated set of events I ended up formatting it, which I regret deeply, but that is not important any more), and it doesn't allow me to because apparently my HDD is set into this GPT style and windows 7 doesn't want to be installed on a GPT style partition for whatever reason (although according to what I've researched, it should be able to use GPT just fine). The only solution as far as I see (according to my research) is to make my HDD an MBR disk, but that would require me to wipe my ubuntu partition (which is the only working thing right now so I am afraid to do that). Also another problem with MBR is that as far as I understand I have EFI instead of BIOS, and apparently EFI is supposed to only work with GPT disks and might have issues with MBR disks, which is another reason why I'm afraid to convert my disk into MBR without further research.

I think I should also mention one more thing. In order for me to boot from that aforementioned usb drive that has the windows 7 installation on it, I need to disable secure boot AND set it to use CSM OS instead of UEFI OS. So maybe the windows 7 installer thinks that I am using BIOS because I have set it to use CSM OS which makes it think that installing windows 7 on a GPT style partition will not work because BIOS does not support GPT? I'm sorry if this is kind of confusing because most of this stuff is kind of new to me and I might be using the terminology and concepts in the wrong way, and this whole situation kind of annoys me because I've installed windows 7 like five times before now and never ran into issues.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Jul 2014   #8
Brink

64-bit Windows 10 Pro
 
 

You would only be able to install Windows 7 to a GPT HDD if you have UEFI enabled instead of CSM in you UEFI firmware, and are using UEFI Windows 7 64-bit installation media.

UEFI Bootable USB Flash Drive - Create in Windows


Since you are using a USB, you would still need to keep secure boot disabled until finished installing Windows to be able to boot from the USB.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Jul 2014   #9
norsul

Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit
 
 

I did follow that tutorial (most importantly step 11, something that I have not seen anywhere else and something that seems to be crucial to my endeavor) and I did manage to get it to boot from the USB in UEFI OS mode, so yay for that. But (as should be expected by now ), I ran into another problem - when it boots up, it just gets stuck on the "Starting Windows" screen. It's possible that I've just messed up something while making the bootable USB, so I'll try it a couple times again, but any help is appreciated if this is a known issue. I guess I should also note that this USB is also bootable in CSM, and in that mode it does not get stuck on the "Starting Windows" screen (but refuses to install windows 7 on a GPT partition, as metioned before, and yes I am using a 64-bit version of windows 7).

There is however the possibility (that seems to become more likely as time goes by) that all of this will not work and the only option that I will have is to just wipe my HDD and convert it to an MBR disk. I'm just afraid to do this because I'm still concerned whether an MBR disk would work with my UEFI firmware, but theoretically and according to the stuff I've read, if you disable secure boot and turn on CSM, the firmware will basically act exactly as an old BIOS would (it even says "To boot windows 7, switch to CSM OS" when I'm in the firmware settings at the "OS mode selection" option). What's your opinion on this?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Jul 2014   #10
Brink

64-bit Windows 10 Pro
 
 

Could also be something with Ubuntu causing an issue with the installation, but I have no experience with using it.

A MBR disk will work just fine with your UEFI firmware. After Windows has finished installing, you can also enable secure boot again if you are using UEFI instead of CSM.

Correct, if you use CSM, it'll be like the older BIOS instead of UEFI.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Is it possible to install windows 7 from a FAT32 formatted usb drive?




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