Many modern notebooks don’t come with DVD drives, leading people to wonder just how, exactly, to reinstall Windows XP/7/8 from a DVD.

Well, wonder no more, because here’s how: directly from a bootable USB drive that you’ve created yourself.

But how to do that? That’s easy. Simply follow these instructions.

You will need: 

  • A working PC or notebook with a DVD drive
  • A USB stick that’s at least 4GB in size
  • Your Windows installation DVD
  • An internet connection

Phase One: Create an .ISO image file of your Windows installation CD

  • Step 1: Download a free program called UltraISO from this link, and install it on a computer that has a DVD drive. Once installed, fire it up and click Continue to try.
  • Step 2: Insert your Windows DVD into the drive.
  • Step 3: In UltraISO, click Tools, then Make CD/DVD Image. Ensure you’re making an .ISO file, give the file a name and note where you will be saving it to. Click Make, and wait for the process to complete.

Phase Two: Create a bootable USB drive containing your Windows installation files

  • Step 1: Download the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool. Install it.
  • Step 2: Insert your 4GB+ USB drive into an available USB port.
  • Step 3: Run the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool.
  • Step 4: Tell the program where the .ISO you just made is stored. Click Next.
  • Step 5: Specify which USB drive to use. Click Next. Wait for the process to finish.

Phase Three: Ensure the target PC is set to boot from a USB drive

  • Step 1: Turn the PC on, and enter the BIOS (usually by pressing F2 or Delete during the boot sequence).
  • Step 2: Search for the PC’s “Boot order” and ensure USB is at the top of the list.
  • Step 3: Save and quit. The PC will restart.

Phase Four: Install Windows on a PC that doesn’t have an optical drive

  • Step 1: Insert your newly-created bootable Windows USB drive into an available USB port on the PC you want to install Windows on.
  • Step 2: Turn the PC on. Should you have done everything right, the regular Windows installation process will start. Follow the on-screen prompts.
  • Step 3: Enjoy Windows.
[Image – Shutterstock]
Deon got his first taste of PC gaming at the tender age of 11 when his father bought an 8088 XT, ostensibly to "help him with his homework". Instead, it introduced him to Leisure Suit Larry, King Graham, Sonny Bonds and many more, and Deon has been a PC gamer and hardware enthusiast ever since. He landed his first professional writing gig in 2006 at a prestigious local PC magazine, a very happy happenstance as he got to write for a living about things he loves - tech, PCs, gaming, and everything in between. He's been writing about it all ever since, and loves every minute of it.