Continuing the “How To….” guides, this guide looks at using a USB key to install Windows Home Server, either on a machine that doesn’t have a DVD Drive or just because you can use a USB stick.

WHS USB Key

In fact, once you have configured the USB Stick, you could use it to install or run anything – Windows Home Server, the WHS Client Restore disc, Windows 7, anything!

All you need for this is a USB Stick with enough space for whatever you need (in the case of Windows Home Server you could get away with a 1GB stick) and a copy of Windows Home Server (or whatever it is you want to install or run).

There are three stages to the process – preparing the USB stick, copy the files to the USB stick and installing the software from the USB stick.

PREPARING THE USB STICK

Plug in the USB stick to your computer/

You need to open a command prompt, but you will need to be acting as an “administrator” to perform these functions. There are two ways of doing this.

The first is to click Start, click Accessories and hover over Command Prompt.

Starting a command prompt

Press the right mouse button and click Run as administrator.

Running as administrator

The other way is to click Start, type in CMD and hold down CTRL and SHIFT together and press Enter.

When you are at the Command Prompt, type diskpart.

This will start the built in Windows disk partitioning software.

diskpart 1

The next thing you need to do is determine which disk is your USB Stick, so type list disk. In my case I used an 8GB USB Stick so it is showing as Disk 7.

listing disks

You need to specify that disk, so type select disk 7 (or whatever number the USB Stick is for you).

disk selected

You then need to clean the USB Stick, so type clean.

clean disk

You need to create a primary partition so type create partition primary.

create partition primary

You then have to select this partition, and as it is on the only partition on the USB Stick it will be the 1st one, so type select partition 1.

select partition 1

You now need to make that partition active, so type active.

active

Nearly there – so it’s time to format the USB Stick, and for speed and compatibility reasons its best to go with FAT32 rather than NTFS, so type format fs=fat32.

format the drive

Depending on the size of your USB Stick this may take a few minutes, so be patient.

format completed

The last thing you need to do is assign a drive letter to the USB Stick, so type assign.

assign

Autoplay will also probably kick in at this point and tell you Windows has round a removable disk, in my case Drive M.

autoplay new drive

Just type exit to finish and then close the command prompt window.

exit diskpart

COPYING THE FILES TO THE USB STICK

Put the DVD into your computer and then copy the files from the DVD to the USB Stick (in my case it is the M drive).

WHS disk contents

INSTALLING THE SOFTWARE FROM THE USB STICK

So now that you have your USB Stick with the relevant software on, it’s time to plug it into the machine you want to install Windows Home Server (or whatever) on. You will need to tell that computer when it power’s up to boot from the USB drive, so check the manual that came with the computer to see how to do that (it is often ESC, or F12, or something similar), you could also change the boot priority in the BIOS, but they you may need to set it back again afterwards so it is often easier just to select the drive at boot time.

And if all goes well you should now be starting the Windows Home Server installation. Just follow the onscreen steps to continue the installation. Good luck!