Windows 11 USB boot driveSource: Windows Central

Although you can install Windows 11 in multiple ways, if you plan to start from scratch, you would usually use a bootable USB flash drive to proceed with the setup. However, since you cannot officially purchase physical installation media, you need to create one yourself.

On Windows 11, you have at least two tools to download the installation files onto a USB flash drive and make it bootable. You can use the official Media Creation Tool to download the files onto a removable storage. Or you can use Rufus, a third-party tool that makes it easy to create a flash drive to install the OS on a compatible or incompatible devices.

In this Windows 11 guide, we will walk you through the steps of creating a USB flash drive with support for Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) firmware using the Microsoft Media Creation Tool and Rufus.

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How to create bootable USB of Windows 11 with Media Creation Tool

The Media Creation Tool is the easiest method to create a bootable media to upgrade or clean install Windows 11.

To create an installation media with the Media Creation Tool, connect a USB flash drive of at least 8GB of space, and use these steps:

  1. Open Windows 11 download page.
  2. Under the "Create Windows 11 Installation Media" section, click the Download now button to save the file on the device.

    Media Creation Tool downloadSource: Windows Central

  3. Double-click the MediaCreationToolW11.exe file to launch the tool.
  4. Click the Accept button to agree to the terms.
  5. (Optional) Clear the Use the recommended options for this PC option.

    Media Creation Tool language settingsSource: Windows Central

  6. Select the correct language and edition of Windows 11.
  7. Click the Next button.
  8. Select the USB flash drive option.

    Create Windows 11 USB optionSource: Windows Central

  9. Click the Next button
  10. Select the USB flash drive.

    Select USBSource: Windows Central

    Quick tip: If the device is not in the list, click the "Refresh drive list" option to make it available.

  11. Click the Next button.
  12. Click the Finish button.

Once you complete the steps, the tool will download the necessary files to create a bootable media, which you can then use to start a computer to install Windows 11.

How to create bootable USB of Windows 11 with Rufus

Alternatively, you can also use Rufus, a free non-Microsoft tool that allows you to create an installation media to install Windows 11 on any supported hardware and software configuration. The utility provides two methods to create the installation media, including using an existing ISO file or directly downloading the file from the Microsoft servers.

Create install USB with Windows 11 ISO

To create a USB media with an existing Windows 11 ISO file, connect a flash drive of at least 8GB of space, and use these steps:

  1. Open Rufus download page.
  2. Under the "Download" section, click the link to save the latest release on your device.

    Rufus downloadSource: Windows Central

  3. Double-click the Rufus-x.xx.exe file to launch the tool.
  4. Under the "Device" section, select the USB flash drive.
  5. Under the "Boot selection" section, click the Select button on the right side.
  6. Select the Windows 11 ISO file from the folder location.
  7. Click the Open button.
  8. Use the "Image option" drop-down menu and select the Standard Windows installation (TPM 2.0, Secure Boot, 8GB+ RAM) option.

    Rufus Windows 11 USB creation settingsSource: Windows Central

  9. (Optional) Select the Extended Windows installation (no TPM 2.0/no Secure Boot, 8GB+ RAM) option to create a USB flash drive for unsupported devices.
  10. Use the "Partition scheme" drop-down menu and select the GPT option.
  11. Use the "Target system" drop-down menu and select the UEFI (non CSM) option.
  12. Under the "Show Advanced drive properties" section, do not change the default settings (unless you know what you are doing).
  13. Under the "Volume label" field, confirm a name for the bootable media — for example, "win11_usb."
  14. In the "File system" and "Cluster size" options do not change the default settings.
  15. Click the Show advanced format options button.
  16. Check the Quick format option.
  17. Check the Create extended label and icon files option.
  18. Click the Start button.
  19. Click the OK button to confirm.
  20. Click the Close button.

After you complete the steps, Rufus will create a USB flash drive to install Windows 11 on a compatible computer, unless you selected the option to create a bootable that skips the system requirements (not recommended).

Create install USB downloading Windows 11 ISO

To use Rufus to create a Windows 11 USB installer, connect a USB drive with enough space, and then use these steps:

  1. Open Rufus download page.
  2. Under the "Download" section, click the link to save the latest release on your device.

    Rufus downloadSource: Windows Central

  3. Double-click the Rufus-x.xx.exe file to launch the tool.
  4. Click the Settings button (third button from the left) at the bottom of the page.

    Rufus settings buttonSource: Windows Central

  5. Under the "Settings" section, use the Check for updates drop-down menu and select the Daily option.

    Rufus Enable UpdatesSource: Windows Central

    Quick tip: These steps are necessary to enable the ISO download feature.

  6. Click the Close button.
  7. Close the Rufus tool.
  8. Relaunch the Rufus tool.
  9. Under the "Device" section, use the drop-down menu to select the USB flash drive.
  10. Under the "Boot selection" section, click the down arrow button on the right and select the Download option.

    Rufus download optionSource: Windows Central

  11. Click the Download button.

  12. Use the "Version" drop-down menu and select the Windows 11 option.
  13. Click the Continue button.
  14. Select the latest build – for example, 21H2 (build 22000.194 - 2021.10).

    Windows 11 ISO download settingsSource: Windows Central

  15. Click the Continue button.
  16. Use the "Edition" drop-down menu and select the Windows 11 Home/Pro option.
  17. Click the Continue button.
  18. Use the "Language" drop-down menu and select your installation language.

    Quick tip: If you are in the United States, select the "English" option, not "English International."

  19. Click the Continue button.
  20. Use the "Architecture" drop-down menu and select the 64-bit since Windows 11 doesn't come in 32-bit.
  21. Click the Download button.
  22. Select a folder location to download the ISO file.
  23. Click the Save button.
  24. Use the "Image option" drop-down menu and select the Standard Windows installation (TPM 2.0, Secure Boot, 8GB+ RAM) option.

    Rufus Windows 11 USB creation settingsSource: Windows Central

  25. (Optional) Select the Extended Windows installation (no TPM 2.0/no Secure Boot, 8GB+ RAM) option to create a USB flash drive for unsupported devices.9.
  26. Use the "Partition scheme" drop-down menu to select the GPT option.
  27. Use the "Target system" drop-down menu to select the UEFI (non CSM) option.
  28. Under the "Show Advanced drive properties" section, don't change the default settings.
  29. Under the "Volume label" field, enter a descriptive name for the drive — for example, "win11_usb."
  30. Don't change the default settings under the "File system" and "Cluster size" sections.
  31. Click the Show advanced format options button.
  32. Select the Quick format and Create extended label and icon files options.
  33. Click the Start button.
  34. Click the OK button to confirm.
  35. Click the Close button.

After you complete the steps, the free utility will download the ISO file and create the bootable media to install Windows 11 that meet the minimum requirements. If you selected the "Extended" option, the setup will bypass the requirements, and it'll let you continue with the installation (not recommended).

More Windows resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10 and Windows 11, visit the following resources:

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