Installing Windows 7 on a netbook without a DVD drive

by Shijaz Abdulla on 02.12.2009 at 12:47

I recently purchased an Acer Aspire Revo nettop for my home Media Center PC. Since the purchase was made before the official launch of Windows 7, the computer came pre-loaded with Windows Vista. The nettop itself is really cool, it comes with a tiny form factor and can be mounted on a mounting stand or stuck behind a flat panel TV. More on that will follow in another post.

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Today I decided to upgrade the nettop to Windows 7. There is however one serious consideration to be taken – like most nettops and netbooks, the Acer Aspire Revo comes with no DVD drive!

Windows 7 comes on a DVD and I have no intention of buying a DVD drive :). This is why I am going to use a 4 GB USB flash drive for the Windows 7 installation.

  1. In order to prepare the USB drive, run DISKPART on any Windows computer. Type DISKPART on the Start menu and hit ENTER. 

    Note: DISKPART utility is usually available by default on your Windows installation. If you don’t have DISKPART download it here.

  2. Plug in your USB flash drive. You need at least 3 GB of space, I recommend you use a 4 GB flash drive. All data on the USB stick will be destroyed so make sure you don’t have any important data on the USB drive.
  3. Type the following commands inside the DISKPART command line utility:
    • LIST DISK (to see all physical drives on your computer)
    • SELECT DISK 1 (assuming disk 1 is your USB drive. Make sure you select the right drive here! Refer to the output from the LIST DISK command)
    • CLEAN (to wipe out any existing volumes on the USB drive)
    • CREATE PARTITION PRIMARY (creates a new primary partition on the USB drive)
    • ACTIVE (Marks the newly created primary partition as ‘active’)
    • FORMAT FS=FAT32 QUICK (formats the newly created primary partition in the FAT32 file system. The QUICK parameter saves time by doing a quick format)
    • ASSIGN (to give the new partition a drive letter)
    • Close DISKPART
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  4. Copy the contents of the entire Windows 7 DVD into the USB drive (drag and drop).
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  5. Eject the USB drive, and plug it into your nettop or netbook, boot from it. (You may need to change the boot sequence to get your netbook or nettop to boot from USB). In the Acer Revo, hit the F12 key to select the boot device. The computer will boot from USB and you can continue the Windows 7 installation.
  6. If you are upgrading from Windows Vista, just plug it in after Windows Vista has started and do an upgrade.

Watch out for my next post on how to set up a Windows 7 Media Center PC at home.