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Download the latest Windows ISO: How to create a Windows 11 installation USB drive

It is always a good idea to have a backup of your current operating system on a USB drive. In case. We show you how to create one for Windows 11.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Windows 11 will begin to deploy towards eligible devices today, but not everyone will get it right away. The free update bring full of new features, completed by a new start menu, widgets and a refreshed interface. Even the Microsoft Store receives big update (but don’t expect to see Android apps right now).


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Launches are bound to encounter problems and bugs. Sometimes these issues may require you to reinstall Windows 11. An easy way to do this is to use a USB installation drive that contains a copy of Windows 11. With the update stored safely on a flash drive, you can reinstall it at any time, if the problems become severe enough that your only option is to reinstall the update.

You can also use a USB drive to make it easier to install Windows 11 on multiple computers, or to quickly set up a virtual machine to make testing possible without risking your personal data.

Microsoft has updated its Media Creation Tool to include Windows 11. You can download the ISO image directly from the source and flash it yourself to a USB stick.

To create a Windows 11 install drive, you’ll need an empty 8GB USB drive, a Windows PC, and a few hours of your time. You can download the system image using a Linux or Mac computer, but we’ll focus on using a PC for this guide. Below are the steps you will need to follow.


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Download the latest Windows 11 ISO from Microsoft

To download the Windows 11 ISO image, you need to create a bootable USB drive. First, visit the Download the Windows 11 page. You will see a few other installation options, but you are looking for Download Windows 11 Disk Image (ISO).

Scroll down the page until you see a drop-down box titled Select Download. Click the drop-down list, then select Windows 11, and then click To download. Then you will be prompted to select a language and then click To confirm again, followed by a click on the 64-bit download button to finally start to download the ISO. This is a fairly large 5.1GB file, so depending on your internet connection, the download may take a while.

Once the download is complete, your job is not completely finished. You need to burn this ISO image to a USB stick. And to do this you will need additional software. Don’t worry, however, it’s an easy process.

Once the ISO is complete, this is what Rufus should look like before flashing Windows 11 to your USB drive.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani / CNET

How to flash Windows 11 to your USB drive

To turn a standard USB drive into an install drive, you will need to use a program called Rufus. It’s the same app as Microsoft itself uses in his guide for create a Windows 10 boot drive. Visit the company’s website for download and install Rufus, which should only take a few seconds. It’s a small program.

Plug in your USB stick and open Rufus. Select your USB key using the Device scrolling menu. Remember that everything on your USB drive will be erased during this process. So make sure it’s empty or you have everything you need.

Under Start selection to select Disc or ISO image then click on the text that reads TO SELECT and choose the ISO file you created in the previous step.

There is a section in Rufus titled Image option with several different settings – leave everything as default. The same can be said for the format options, unless you want to change the name of the USB drive to something like “Installing Windows 11” or the same way.

Click on Start when you are sure all options are set. You will again have to wait for the program to do its job, but this should be a much faster process than downloading and creating the ISO. It took a little over 15 minutes on a Surface Pro X for me.

Windows 11 update on a laptop

Now you can easily install Windows 11.

Sarah Tew / CNET

What to do with a Windows 11 install drive

Once Rufus is done, you can remove the USB drive from your PC and keep it in a safe place in case you need to reinstall Windows 11 on your PC, or you can plug it into another PC and use it. to install Windows 11 by opening the drive and double-clicking the setup.exe to file. A few seconds later, a Windows 11 installation screen will appear, guiding you through the process.

Alternatively, you can try using the USB stick as a bootable installation drive. However, this is where things get even more complicated, as Windows 11 requires Secure Boot and the USB drive we just created is not compatible with this feature. I suggest waiting for Microsoft to release an official tool, but if you insist, I have found a guide that walks you through the additional steps of creating a bootable USB drive compatible with Secure Boot on Tom’s gear, starting at step 11.

Curious about Windows 11? We have your back. There is a big the redesign of the interface makes its debut which includes a centered Start menu, but don’t worry, you can move it to the left corner if you want. And, finally, if you’ve ever wanted to use Android apps on your PC, well, Microsoft makes it possible.


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