Create a bootable Windows Server 2012 R2 installation USB flash drive

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Hi Windows connoisseurs! (wiki)

(This is essentially a remake of my Create a bootable Windows 8.1 installation USB flash drive post.) The setps are the same so you can easily follow that post or use this slightly updated version.

In this guide I will help you find a way to install Windows Server 2012 R2 quick and easy, from a simple USB flash drive. It’s really easy, but you still need to Think about a few things.
I’ll list them here and if you want, you can follow the step by step guide below.


1. Get a USB Flash drive formatted with FAT32, it has to be AT LEAST 8GB! (The Windows Server 2012R2 installation bits will not fit on a 4GB USB drive…)
2. Download and install the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download tool from Microsoft Store here or Codeplex here  (It is an official Microsoft tool, totally wierdly named from the Windows 7 release but still very much valid!)
3. Download or locate a ‘Windows Server 2012 R2’ .iso file and store it locally on your harddrive.
4. Start the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download tool (from startbutton or ‘windows 8/Metro’ style startmenu’?)
5. Complete the steps 1-4
6. Insert the USB flash drive into the powered off PC to install, Power on and boot from USB drive (F9 at HP logo on HP Machines).
7. Install Windows Server as you would normally.
8. Done!

This guide in its entirety works just as well if you replace the Windows Server 2012 R2 .iso file with Windows 8.1, Windows 7, Windows Server 2012 or plain Windows 8 (Windows Server 2008 R2 not verified but willmost likely also work)

Step by step:

1. USB Flash Drive

Prepare a USB flash drive for installation, is has to be at least 8 GB in size and it has to be formatted with FAT32. It does not have to be erased, the tool will do that for you if needed.



2. Download and install the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download tool from Microsoft Store or Codeplex. The Links are as follows:

Run the .exe file, you will have to be a local administrator on your machine for it to install properly.


Click Next


Click Install


Click Finish

3. Locate a Windows Server 2012 R2 .iso file. This file should be placed on a local harddrive. It does not matter where you put it, as long as it is on a local HD and it is accessable to you when running the tool, meaning that you have access to where the file is stored in the filesystem.

4. After the installation of the tool has completed, you will suddenly notice this tile:


You can also just use the search function, in ‘metro mode’ simply type Windows 7 and you will see it and its uninstall app.
Start the tool
Click Ok at the User Account Control popup dialog
The first screen should now look like this:


5. Hit the Browse button to locate your Windows Server 2012 R2 installation iso file.


In my test, I’m using an .iso file downloaded from TechNet Subscriber downloads (soon to be no more)
It does not have to be from TechNet, it can be MSDN or Volume Licensing or really any form of Windows Server 2012 R2 installation iso.

Click ‘Next’


Click on ‘USB device’
If you see the window below, that means that the USB drive is either not plugged in properly, or it has the wrong formatting or insufficient storage or similar. Make sure that you have a USB flash drive that meets: 4GB minimum+FAT32.


Insert a USB drive that meets the requirements and press the refresh button
Now, click on the ‘Begin copying’ button.

If the USB drive was ok, the copying will begin, but if not, if it still had files still on it, you will see this dialog:


Click Erase to continue


Click Yes and the formatting and copying process will begin.



Let it do its thing until it reaches 100%

When it has finished formatting and copying files, you are done.



6. Next step, is to insert the USB drive into the PC you want to install Windows Server 2012 R2 on, Power it off completely and Power on again.
Use BIOS settings to select ‘boot from USB’ or like on a HP machine, hit F9 at the HP logo screen to boot directly from USB.

7. Let the Installation begin! The Windows installation is pretty much standard. A Clean install is described here.  The setup of Windows 8, which is pretty much the same, is described here

8. Done!


Install and Deploy Windows Server 2012 (R2)

Thanks to:

Herakles and Gutke!

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19 thoughts on “Create a bootable Windows Server 2012 R2 installation USB flash drive

  1. Windows Server 2012 R2 is too large to fit on a 4GB USB Drive…Your Screenshot is 2012, it does NOT mentioned R2 😉

    1. Hi Max.
      Sorry, I did both vanilla and R2 but you are right, I never did R2 with a 4Gb USB drive.
      I trusted other sources for that fact which was stupid 😃
      I’ll get the post corrected asap.
      Thanks for the headsup!

      // Thomas

  2. Great tutorial mate worked a treat on Installing 2012 r2 on my spare laptop.

    1. I saw a comment about someone installing server on a laptop the other day, and again. Why would you install a super bloated OS, especially a server OS, on a laptop? What’s the function? Why that over just Windows 7/8 et.c?

  3. Straight forward, simple, and to the point! I remember years ago spending half a day to find and build this. This was really painless. Thanks for taking the time to help us!

  4. Straight forward and to the point. I remember a few years back it took a half a day to build something like this because the writing on the wall regarding the obsolescence of the CD’s had not yet been written. Easy to find and easy to follow. Thanks for helping us out!

  5. Had some issues with WIndows Server 2012.
    So looked for the latest version of Windows 7 USB/DVD Download tool and it finally worked

  6. Hi Everybody
    I have a windows server 2012 R2 and I am locked out. Forgot password. Is anyone know how to reset the password or something ?

    1. Hi.
      Short answer, you can’t. If you could, what good would any of it be?
      What you can do, is salvage the content by connecting to the drive, physical or virtual to a different server you can logon to, then access the content.
      It is generally a bad idea to forget the password to the last admin account…
      // Thomas

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