Make a UEFI Bootable USB Drive for Windows 8 or Windows Server 2012
Today we are going to look at how to make a UEFI bootable USB drive for Windows 8 or Windows Server 2012. Now that I’ve finally joined the UEFI world with the ASUS P8z77 WS motherboard, I’ve been trying to get UEFI to actually work. UEFI is supposed to be the replacement for the venerable BIOS that has been with us since the 70’s. One big UEFI upgrade is the ability to boot off of new devices easier.
Although the title suggests that this guide is for Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012, this should work for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. All of these Microsoft operating systems support UEFI but only the x64 versions of the OS! This all seems great. I’ve got Windows 8 RTM. I’ve installed the old fashioned way with a BIOS boot, and really want to do it the UEFI way. I started of thinking in this modern world it should be easy, boy was I wrong. Weeks later still no UEFI installed OS.
I made bootable USB versions of the Windows 8 and Windows 7 setup discs using the official Microsoft tool to do so. But the USB sticks never showed as UEFI bootable. After some Google searching I discovered that most UEFI motherboard cannot boot from NTFS devices only FAT32. This does not sit well with me. Why work to a new UEFI standard then make the bootable USB device a FAT32 standard? For those wondering, FAT32 is from the mid 1990’s. UEFI bootable USB drives are a more recent development.
So I’ve decided to show how it can be done, without wasting many hours getting the info from all over the web. I hope it is of use to others. I’ve taken these notes working on my desktop to test along the way.
UEFI Bootable USB Drive Guide Requirements:
- UEFI capable motherboard, for Intel this means Desktop 60 series chipset (or LGA1155/2011/1356 CPU+)
- I recommend a 4GB USB stick, as it will fit all the UEFI capable OS’s, you could go bigger but NOT smaller!
- You will need a running version of Windows 7/8/server, as you need access to ‘Diskpart’
- You will need the Install files for the OS you want to make a UEFI capable boot USB disk for, this means either a ISO you can extract the files from, a DVD you can copy the files from or another USB disk with the files.
- A spare disk that is prefereably blank or already GPT partitioned (not MBR), this is vital, UEFI = GPT partitioning or it won’t work.
UEFI Bootable USB Drive Guide:
From the Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows Server machine:
- First, remove all USB and or other external devices as this could make finding the USB device in Diskpart hard or harder.
- Click on ‘Start’
- In the bottom ‘Search programs and files’ type ‘Diskpart’. You will be greeted with a command prompt and a screen as in picture below.
- You then need to select the USB drive as you likely have more than one drive installed. When you get to the command “select drive” choose the number that corresponds to the USB device you want to format.
Be careful if you choose the wrong drive you could loose data on that drive. You have been warned.
Here is a quick guide to the diskpart commands you will be using:
select disk x (where x is USB drive number from list
clean (wipes everything, so be sure!)
create partition primary
format fs fat32 quick (vital it’s FAT32 for UEFI boot to succeed if NTFS fails)
exit (to exit out of Diskpart)
You are now ready to copy the UEFI installation files to the drive. Select all the files from the original Windows install media, and paste them into the USB disk.
With all OS’s prior to Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012, there is one more step. If you are using Windows Vista SP1, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 (all 64bit). On the newly created USB disk, make a new dir called ‘EFI’, copy the ‘boot’ directory into the ‘EFI’ directory. Do not move the files.
Next Steps for UEFI Booting in Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012
Now the UEFI bootable USB disk should be ready to setup a new install of the Windows OS. Place in computer where it will be installed. In UEFI capable motherboards, make sure that UEFI is enabled. If the BIOS doesn’t detect the Bootable UEFI USB drive, you may need to select it as a boot option via keystroke. It is vital that you have UEFI enabled, or you will just boot via the BIOS (bad) and miss out on the joy that is UEFI. I’ve just done the above my self and can confirm it works well. If only Microsoft could make a FAT32 option for USB drives! Windows 8 RTM in UEFI mode is happily installing away on the desktop. Should UEFI setup fail the USB drive should also be bootable in conventional non-UEFI boot (ie BIOS boot.)
Been very frustrating to get to this point, glad to have it sorted, hopefully this will become much easier as motherboard manufacturers enable to boot from UEFI on NTFS and other non Windows Filesystems.