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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Installing Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 via USB thumb drive


I planned to format my server to Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 but realize my DVD rom has faulty which I don’t think I want to replace it since I hardly use since 3 years ago. Therefore it is time for me to make use of my 8GB USB thumb drive which I‘ve received during Microsoft DDC training.

Just a simple few step and command.

1. Format USB thumb drive to FAT32 using diskpart.

2. Refer to below command

  • Diskpart
  • select disk 1 {or the number of your USB key!}
  • clean 
  • create partition primary
  • select partition 1
  • active
  • format fs=fat32
  • assign
  • exit

3.Additional command

E:\boot\bootsect.exe /NT60 h:

More detail:-

4. Execute below command to copy all contents from dvdrom to usb thumb drive. You can copy direct using GUI but make sure hidden files is selected as well.

xcopy E:\*.* /s /e /f h:\


E drive= my laptop dvdrom

H drive= my USB thumb drive

5. Configure the server to boot from USB on the BIOS.

6. Plug the USB thumb drive at the rear of the server. Sometimes, I try to plug on the front but it wont boot. Therefore, just try whichever is working for you.

Since then, I just carry USB thumb drive when I want to install Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 (full installation) rather than CD. Nice and neat !


  1. Lai, I've a server where I don't have 10 GB free space. Do you have an idea how to install SP1 there?


  2. Hi Captain,
    without enough hard disk space, you will not be able to update SP1. see if you can extend your hard disk, clear temp files, etc to solve your problem.

  3. Add on- Check this out

  4. Hi Lai, thanks for the link. The challenge is, I run a "Boot from VHD" scenario. So the size is given as the flash drive doesnt have more ;) Just thought you might have an other idea. Thanks anyway

  5. I have the same issue as Captain.

    The documentation says that when installing via windows update you need approximately 95.7 MB free space to download the updater and another 850 MB free space to install SP1.

    In reality it tells me I need at least 8 GB free regardless of whether I use windows update or the full version.

  6. Yes. correct. if i'm not mistaken,
    Full installation on GUI - 8- 10GB free hard disk space
    Server core - 3-5 GB free hard disk space.

    Make sure you have more than the one mentioned above as server without sufficient C Drive hard disk space will cause a lot of problem. My best practise is allocate 60- 80GB hard disk space for C Drive when deployment to cater for windows update.

    A lot of people tend to allocate 16-40GB which is a major mistake. They did not consider about windows update, etc.

    Hope this info is useful. (my 2 cents tips) :)

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