How to create a bootable Windows 7 USB flash drive

The USB flash drive has replaced the floppy disk drive as the best storage medium for transferring files, but it also has its uses as a replacement for CDs and DVDs. USB drives tend to be higher in capacity than disc media, but since they are more expensive, they cannot (yet) really be used as a replacement. There are reasons why you would, however, choose a USB device over a DVD disc, and bootable software is definitely one of them. Not only is it faster to copy data such as setup files from a USB drive, but during usage the access times are also significantly faster. Therefore, installing something like Windows 7 will work that much faster from a USB drive than from a DVD (and of course, is particularly useful for the PCs without an optical drive; this isn’t something we should just leave for the pirates to enjoy).
This guide will show you two different ways to create a USB flash drive that works just like a Windows 7 DVD. In order to follow this guide, you’ll need a USB flash drive with at least 4GB of free space and a copy of the Windows 7 installation disc.

Windows 7 USB DVD Download Tool

You are normally given this tool when you purchase from the online Microsoft Store.
The easiest way to turn a USB flash drive into a bootable Windows 7 installer is by using the tool Microsoft offers, cunningly named the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool. To get started, download the installer [exe] from and follow the basic steps to put it onto your computer; you can put it on the computer you plan to install Windows 7 on or another one, it doesn’t matter.
Once it is installed, it should create an icon on your desktop, so double-click that to open. If you can’t find it, use the search function in the Start Menu with a keyword like “USB.” Launching it should give you the above screen, and step one is to find the Windows 7 .ISO file. The tool only accepts .ISO images, so we recommend that you convert yours if it’s in a different DVD image format.
Step two is straightforward: simply choose USB device.
In step three, all you have to do is make sure that you are choosing the correct USB device. If you have other data on the device, move it to your hard drive, another USB device, or somewhere else before proceeding.
The tool will prompt you if it detects data on the device. Once your data is backed up elsewhere, click Erase USB Device.
You will get another prompt warning you that all the data will be wiped. Click Yes to continue.
The format will be very quick, while the copying of the files will take a little bit more time (about 10 to 15 minutes).

Once the process is complete, you should get the above confirmation message. At this point you can close the tool and use the USB drive to install Windows 7. Remember that you’ll have to choose to boot off the USB drive. Before doing so, you may want to open up the USB drive and double click on setup.exe to see if everything looks okay. If you want to be able to do this manually, see the next section, and if you want to be able to install any edition of Windows 7, skip to the section after that.

Manual creation

Maybe you don’t like that Microsoft violated the GPL with the first version of the above tool (the company has since GPLed the code), or you’re old-school and just love using the command prompt. Regardless of what your reasons are for creating a bootable Windows 7 USB drive manually, we have the scoop on how to do it. First, open the command prompt (if you use UAC make sure to right click it and choose “Run as administrator”), type “diskpart” without the quotes, and hit enter. You can also get here by simply typing “diskpart” without the quotes into the Start Menu and hitting enter.
Now type “list disk” without the quotes and hit enter. Take a look at the Size column and figure out which disk number your USB drive is. Ours is number 1, so we’re going to type “select disk 1” without the quotes and hit enter. Now we’re going to wipe it by typing “clean” without the quotes and hitting enter (make sure to do a backup of the contents if you haven’t already).
At this point we want to prepare the USB drive for the files and make sure it is bootable. Type “create partition primary” without the quotes and hit enter. Then type “select partition 1” without the quotes and hit enter. Next type “active” without the quotes and hit enter. Finally, type “format fs=fat32” without quotes and hit enter (if you choose to use ntfs, you’ll later have to run the “Bootsect.exe /nt60 G:” command to put boot manager compatible files onto your USB flash drive to make it a bootable device). This one will take a while, so go grab a snack, we’ll wait. When that’s done, type “assign” without the quotes and hit enter (this will assign a new drive letter to the USB flash drive).
An AutoPlay window like the one above will appear. Remember the drive letter (in our case it is H:), close the window, type “exit” without the quotes and hit enter. If you are working with an .ISO image, the best way to do this last part is to mount the file with a program like Virtual Clone Drive. Alternatively, you can extract the files from the .ISO image and simply copy them to the USB drive, but since we’ve been using the command prompt up to this point, we’ll show you how to do the last step with it as well.
If you don’t have the command prompt open, open it with administrative privileges, type “xcopy f:*.* /s/e/f g:” without the quotes and hit enter. Note that you will likely have to replace “f:” with the drive letter for your Windows 7 DVD and “g:” with the drive letter for your USB flash drive. Don’t worry if install.wim takes a while to copy: it’s easily the biggest file on the disc.

Bonus: install any edition of Windows 7

This is a completely optional step and you only want to do this if you want to be able to choose which edition of Windows 7 to install. In the command prompt, type “del G:sourcesei.cfg” without the quotes and hit enter (where g: is your USB flash drive).
This will make sure that your Windows 7 installer no longer has a specific version of Windows 7 set as the default, and you will be prompted to choose the version you want to install. Remember that while this gives you a more universal Windows 7 installer, you still need to make sure you are choosing the edition that you own, or you will not be able to activate Windows 7 with the key you have obtained.

How to Clean Video Games & Consoles with Household Products

Below are some quick tips on how to clean your video games and game systems using household products. The most common problems like dirty contacts, stickers, and markers are covered. Most of this info pertains to older cartridge based consoles but will work on newer consoles in some instances.

Warning: While cleaning the inside of a game system with a liquid solution, ALWAYS UNPLUG THE CONSOLE first to avoid electrical hazards. Also make sure the electronics are completely dry before powering the system back on.


Supplies Needed:

For cartridge based consoles it is highly recommended to clean your games and the system (Mainly the cartridge slot) before playing games on it. I say this because some games or cartridge slots may be really dirty and the last thing you want to do is insert a dirty game into a clean cartridge slot or the other way around.

It is very common for people to simply blow on cartridge based games to clean them. This is a simple solution but not a perfect fix. I would recommend using a Q-Tip and original Windex, yes Windex not rubbing alcohol. Believe me it works much better to clean games.

I usually have a small jar I put Windex in and dunk the Q-Tip in to soak the end with Windex. You will want to then place the wet end of the Q-Tip on the contacts of the game cartridge and run it across the board a few times on both sides of the board. You may see the tip of the Q-Tip turning black from the dust it has collected, even if you did the old blowing into the cartridge technique you will be surprised how much more dust and grime is still left on the board. When done using the wet side of the Q-Tip you will now want to use the dry side of it to dry the area you just cleaned.


Supplies Needed:

Cleaning cartridge slots in the game system is a little different. Usually I like to take a credit card and wrap it in a thin felt cloth and spray it with Windex. Do not completely soak the cloth just dampen it. Simply take your dampened cloth with card and slide it into the cartridge slot moving the card up and down through the slot. To dry it you can simply blow on it or you can use a can of compressed air. Windex is designed to dry quickly without having to wipe it off. So not much to worry about if you just dampen the cloth it should dry without a problem.


Supplies Needed:

Removing those pesky stickers can be a little annoying and involves a little patience. It is recommended to slowly peel the sticker off, but we all know chances are the sticker will just tear and you will be stuck with a white torn sticker left on your game or sticker residue. Only if you’re lucky will the sticker simply come off with no problem. The longer a sticker is on the product the harder it is to remove.

If the simple tear method doesn’t remove the entire sticker try this.

Use either high content rubbing alcohol (Usually 90% or higher) or Goo Gone. Whichever you may have at hand. Take your product and apply a generous amount to a paper towel and soak the sticker. You may also slowly pour the chemical directly from the bottle onto the sticker but be careful for spills. Let the product sit for approximately 30-60 seconds, rubbing alcohol dries very quickly compared to Goo Gone so keep that in mind.

After the chemical is applied you may just want to scratch away at the sticker with your fingernail until the sticker is removed. Sometimes you may need to apply more chemical and repeat these steps until the sticker is removed completely.

You can also use a razor blade and scrape the sticker off instead of scratching with your fingernail, but the razor may cut the product you are cleaning if not positioned right, so be careful and patient if you try that. For any leftover sticker residue after the sticker has been removed I recommend using a rubbing alcohol soaked paper towel or even hot water soaked paper towel and wiping the area clean. Then simply dry it off with a paper towel. Now you should be sticker free!

These tips are for stickers stuck on game cases, game cartridges, or consoles. If you have a sticker on a paper game cover art or manual I cannot recommend using these techniques as they will damage your product. Also this only works on paper based stickers. Some stickers may be metal based “Non-removable” rental stickers. There are ways to remove rental stickers but that is a completely different method and may damage your product.


Supplies Needed:

So you just got a game or system with someone’s name or initials. What do you do? Well truth be told permanent marker really isn’t permanent and can be removed using two easy techniques.

Technique 1 involves hairspray. I prefer hairspray in an aerosol can as it seems to work better. Simply spray the area with hairspray and let it sit 5-10 seconds. You should see the ink start to bleed off quickly. Now wipe the area vigorously with a dry paper towel. Most if not all the ink should be gone. If some ink remains simply repeat the above steps.

A few things I want to address about hairspray are that it does not leave a sticky feeling at all to the applied surface. Hairspray is designed to be absorbed in the hair and then cure after being absorbed. Hairspray cannot be absorbed in plastics and metals. If stickiness is of a concern to you it is possible to wipe the area clean with a paper towel soaked in water and wipe dry afterwards. This method works great for areas like LCD screens or any area where light pressure is needed to remove ink from a product. Since the hairspray does most of the work for you.

Technique 2 involves using a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser soaked in water. Simply soak the magic eraser in water and start scrubbing away at the permanent marker ink. With a little patience and elbow grease the marker will come right off.


Supplies Needed:

Corrosion can appear as a light blue or white gunked up substance on game cartridge boards or system cartridge slots and electrical connectors. Corrosion and rust are completely different types of degrading on metals. Corrosion is usually formed by two dissimilar metals. There are several other ways it can be formed, but you’re not here for a chemistry lesson you want to learn how to clean the corrosion off.

To clean corrosion off you simply need baking soda and hot water from your faucet, that’s it. I would suggest one cup of hot water then about 2 tablespoons of baking soda. Mix the two together with a spoon. Now you have a safe corrosion cleaning chemical. Depending on what you are using it on makes a difference how you apply it. If it is a cartridge slot on a game system than you may want to just apply it to a felt cloth and wrap the cloth around a credit card (Make sure the cloth is damp you and not soaked. You may need to lightly squeeze the cloth to release some liquid), then proceed to move the card up and down in the slot to clean the area.

For game cartridge contacts you can simply dunk a Q-Tip in the solution and use it in a similar way you would to clean games with Windex. I would allow the solution to sit for a few minutes before you dry the area. When done dry the area with compressed air or a dry Q-Tip. You can also use a Scotch Brite pad dampened in this solution to clean electronics if you can access areas with it. Corrosion rarely forms on electronics, so only use this guide if corrosion is present.


Supplies Needed:

If a disc you have has scratches or scuffing you may want to seek out a place in your area to correct these problems and resurface the discs. Most places only charge a few dollars to resurface discs. I would not recommend using cheap cleaning kits to clean a disc as most people have reported that it may make your disc worse. I have experienced this first hand with Disc Doctor as the machine left many scuffs on my disc.

For discs some problems may be from simple finger smudges present on the surface. For a light cleaning of the disc use a dry felt cloth and rub the surface of the disc from the inner ring outward. Do not rub the disc in a circular motion as it will go against the ‘grain’ of the disc. No chemicals needed here.


Supplies Needed:

So you have a game system and its collecting dust and you want to let it shine like new again. Or maybe you have a console or controller that has buttons that may stick and may not rebound all the way back or get stuck. Cleaning consoles goes a long way for looks but also in the consoles functionality.

If you want to properly clean the entire shell of the system you can simply remove the screws and the electronics connected to the case. I really would only do this with systems that have ridges in their molding such as an Atari 2600 or Sega Genesis systems. Cleaning those grooves can be a pain without taking the system apart.

Don’t be afraid to take the old school game systems apart they are literally just a couple of screws and the motherboards come out easily. You can take the bare casings of the system and wash them in a sink with soapy water and a sponge. Dry it off and put back together. This method also works to clean jammed buttons that are filled with grime and food crumbs that get stuck in the buttons from kids using the system/controller.

A Swiffer duster and a can of compressed air are great products to invest in. No need to rip the console apart to use those. Keeping your consoles free of dust helps them breathe better keeping them less prone to getting clogged with dust, which can overheat the system. I’ve seen modern systems fail due to overheating from being covered knuckle deep in dust.

I’m always interested hearing new technics and what methods you use to clean games and consoles. Feel free to leave a comment with your cleaning technics below.