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On August 2015, Microsoft made Windows 10 USB sticks available on the market to enable users of netbooks and tablets without CD/DVD-ROM drives to enjoy the Windows 10 experience. The USB stick costs than the disc-based version. But if your current device already runs Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, you can boot it to Windows 10 for free via a USB pen drive. Here’s what you should do:
- Prepare your USB pen drive.
Make sure that your USB pen drive’s storage capacity is enough for the OS installation tool—4GB for the 32-bit version and 8GB for the 64-bit.
- Check your internet connection.
Check if your connection can handle downloads ranging from 4GB to 8GB in size, and that it is fast and reliable. Otherwise, it might not be able to download the file properly. You might also want to check your internet service provider’s policy regarding downloads like this to see if the process is subject to fees.
- Download the media creation tool from the official website.
In the official download page for Windows 10, the media creation tool is available for download. After downloading the tool on your device, choose Run. Since your goal is to create a bootable USB for Windows 10, select “Create installation media for another PC.” Then choose which language, edition, and architecture (64-bit or 32-bit) you want for your Windows 10.
When it comes to architecture, experts say that if your device can take it, going the 64-bit route is the wiser choice, as it enables you to optimize the memory of your device. As for which edition, below is a helpful table that Microsoft created to help you choose the most suitable edition for your need:
|Windows version being upgraded||Windows 10 edition|
Note: If you have an N edition of Windows on your PC, choose the N equivalent of Windows 10 for creating installation media.
|Windows 7 Starter|
Windows 7 Home Basic
Windows 7 Home Premium
Windows 8.1 with Bing
Windows 10 Home
|Windows 10 Home|
|Windows 7 Professional|
Windows 7 Ultimate
Windows 8 Pro
Windows 8.1 Pro
Windows 8/8.1 Professional with Media Center
Windows 10 Pro
|Windows 10 Pro|
|Windows 8/8.1 Single Language|
Windows 8 Single Language with Bing
|Windows 10 Home Single Language|
|Windows 8/8.1 Chinese Language Edition|
Windows 8 Chinese Language Edition with Bing
|Windows 10 Home China|
After you have made your choice, you’ll be guided on how to create media. And once all the steps are completed, you may select finish.
- Insert the USB pen drive into the device that you wish to upgrade.
After inserting the USB pen drive into the device, run setup.exe. Remember: as soon as the upgrade starts, remove the flash drive to prevent installation from starting over once the device boots from the media once more. Follow the instructions on the setup to finish upgrading to Windows 10.
You may also clean install Windows 10 via USB pen drive for reformatting purposes. However, it takes a few more steps. If you won’t be performing this from a device that has an existing Windows 10 OS, you will be required to input a product key along the process. After doing steps 1 and 2 above, follow the steps below:
- Turn on your device, insert your USB pen drive into the device, and shut it down with the pen drive still inside.
- Restart your device then tap on any key to boot from your USB pen drive. In the case of the PC, if your current Windows OS starts up in the process instead, try opening a boot menu or changing the boot order. For guidance on how to do this, check the instruction or documentation manual that came with your machine or check the manufacturer’s website. You may also try signing in to Windows, shutting down your machine, and then starting it again.
- Provide your language and preferences on the Install Windows page, then click on Next.
- Select Install Windows.
- Enter the product key that came in your purchase confirmation email after your Windows 10 purchase. If your device has been upgraded to Windows 10 already prior to this process, you can skip this step as your Windows page will automatically be activated later.
- Quickly go over the license terms page and select “I accept the license terms” to proceed to the next step.
- Select Custom when asked “Which type of installation do you want?”
- Select the formatting option and partition that you want when asked, “Where do you want to install Windows?” Follow the instructions until formatting is finished.
- Perform setup instructions to finish Windows installation.
Shelling out more than a hundred dollars won’t be necessary, as you can now experience the benefits of Windows 10 machine for free. All it takes is a bit of resourcefulness, tech know-how, and a simple USB pen drive.
NOTE: If you’re serious about upgrading, make sure you do it before 29 July 2016. Microsoft will close the free upgrade offer after that!