If you have to install Windows Server 2019 manually, you will come to the point where you ask yourself how you should install a ISO without burning the image to a physical disk and search this damned USB 2.0 External DVD drive which is covered by cobwebs in the cellar?

The Prerequisites are plain simple

  • windows Iso file
  • USB stick (at least 8GB)

Step 1: Format the Stick

Open a privileged PowerShell or Command line

> diskpart

# list all disks
DISKPART> list disk

# Select your USB drive which can be identified by the size in most cases
DISKPART> select disk TheNumberOfYourUSBDisk

# Throw away all content of the Disk

# Create a primary partition
DISKPART > create partition primary

#select the partition and mark it as active
DISKPART > select partition 1
DISKPART > active

# If your USB stick is for old Hardware which at some points does not support extfat for EFI boot
# you should replace extfat with fat32 and we have some addidional work to do
DISKPART > format fs=exfat quick label="Win2019"

# Exit diskpart

Step 2: make the drive bootable

That’s really easy Microsoft provides some tooling for this. All we need is the drive letter of your USB stick (In this sample I use U:)

bootsect /nt60 U: will create the needed start code

Step 3: Moving files

Mount the ISO File to your System (In this sample it is Mounted to W:)

If you are lucky and you can use extfat you can just move alle files with xcopy and you are done xcopy.exe W:\*.* U:\ /E /H /F

and you are done.

If you have to use Legacy FAT32 we first have to split the install.wim because it is larger than FAT32 can handle. The Split is done by:

Dism /Split-Image /ImageFile:W:\sources\install.wim /SWMFile:U:\sources\install.swm /FileSize:4000

After we have split the install file we can continue with all other files but we have to add the large install.wim to an exclude list

create a new text file and put sources\install.wim in the first line, close it and save (In this sample it’s U:\exclude.txt)

Run xcopy.exe W:\*.* U:\ /E /H /F /EXCLUDE:U:\exclude.txt

and now the Legacy system will also be able to boot to your stick!