This post explains why the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool (WUDT) is unable to copy the install files to the USB drive in some cases. The tool allows you to create a copy of your Windows 7 ISO file on a USB flash drive.

Update: If you have problems Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool you can try the free alternative Rufus. The most powerful tool for creating a bootable Windows setup flash drive is WinSetupFromUSB.

You might have heard of the stir that Microsoft's Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool (WUDT) caused last year when some Open Source watchmen recognized that the tool contained code that violated the GPL. Microsoft was then "forced" to release WUDT under GPLv2. Considering the upset in the media about this incident, I expected a luxurious tool that comes with lots of customization features. I was somewhat disappointed to discover it does nothing else but copy the contents of a Windows 7 install DVD to a USB stick and make it bootable.

Windows-7-USB-DVD-Download Tool-WUDT

The funny thing is that WUDT even failed to perform this simple task with my no-name USB stick. This message was the only thing that the Open Source tool could do for me:

We were unable to copy your files. Please check your USB device and the selected ISO file and try again.

At least, my cheap stick wasn't the cause because everything worked perfectly when I manually did the job (hopefully without violating any Open Source laws). So, I thought, I would write this post for those who might run into the same problems and think they need to buy another USB stick. After all, this is Microsoft software and there are not many options to integrate bugs in such a simple tool.

Anyway, here is what you have to do. Launch a command prompt with admin rights and run the diskpart tool. Note: Before you run these commands read the warning below!

diskpart
list disk
select disk #
clean
create partition primary
select partition 1
active
format quick fs=fat32
assign
exit

The "list disk" command will show you the connected drives and with "select disk", you can choose your USB stick.

WARNING: Be careful to select the right drive or else your day won't have a happy end because if you select the wrong drive you will lose all your data on this drive!

The crucial step here is the "clean" command. It overwrites the MBR and the partition table (thereby, deleting everything on the stick). My guess is that WUDT misses this step and only formats the flash drive. It appears my memory stick had some odd partitions (which is not uncommon). When I tried WUDT again with this prepared stick, the Open Source tool mastered its task without further murmur.

By the way, this is also the reason why you shouldn't use the Windows Disk Management applet to prepare the USB stick. This GUI doesn't offer a clean command.

After you prepare the stick, you have to copy the contents of your Windows 7 DVD to the thumb drive, and you are done. If you only have an ISO file, you can use Virtual CloneDrive to mount the Windows 7 install DVD first.

Instead of formatting the partition with FAT32, you can also use NTFS (like WUDT does), but then you need an extra step to make the drive bootable:

Bootsect.exe /nt60 X:

"X:" is the drive letter of your USB stick. Bootsect.exe can be found on the Windows 7 DVD in the boot folder. However, I can't really recommend using NTFS. My USB stick, at least, appeared to be slower with NTFS.

344 Comments
  1. Dade 9 years ago

    Worked perfectly. Thanks!

  2. CiB3rX 9 years ago

    Thanks man.. this did the trick 😀

  3. Ryan K 9 years ago

    Hello,

    Brilliant, I was getting the same error, I followed your steps to clean partition etc. then I used the tool again and it began to copy, thanks alot.

    Ryan

  4. J B 9 years ago

    Thanks for a very helpful post

  5. Stathis 9 years ago

    Thank you

  6. Paul 9 years ago

    Thank you so much, it worked!

  7. Michael 9 years ago

    Very surprised the ‘clean’ command has no GUI access anywhere within windows. Obviously there shouldn’t be anyone fiddling with it willy-nilly, but what common consumer goes into the Disk Management within control panel anyway? Should have been added.

    Anyway, thanks a bunch! Worked for me.

  8. Jack Hsu 9 years ago

    Thank you, appreciate it very much!

  9. Nick 9 years ago

    You sir, are a genius, thank you! 🙂

  10. Cameron Hudson 9 years ago

    Thanks for this!

  11. Aris 9 years ago

    Hi Michael..
    My USB stick not detected in the command prompt after writing “list disk”. Iam using windows xp sp3
    please help me. thank you very much

  12. AR 9 years ago

    Thanks, saved my day. 🙂

  13. J Lapham 9 years ago

    Good grief – thank you for this….just saved me an hour of futzing around.

  14. Klemen 9 years ago

    Thank you, great tip.

  15. Tanel 9 years ago

    Thanks 🙂

  16. Marco 9 years ago

    My problem was the AVIRA Virusscanner. Disabling that solve the problem.

  17. Chris 9 years ago

    This did the trick for me! thanks!

  18. tata 9 years ago

    not working with my kingston data traveler 101 8gb …

  19. Wired Warrior 9 years ago

    Thanks brother. Another brick of the wall torn down, and I’ve almost got a clean install going. Peace.

  20. Richard 9 years ago

    I join in with the thank you’s!

  21. Dhiman 9 years ago

    Thanks, it works. But I have a strange problem.. My have 8GB USB drive. Earlier it was showing 7.45GB usable. but now its 7.43GB usable after using diskpart. (* I had used “clean” command). Does anyone knows why?

  22. Lemes 9 years ago

    it didn’t work for me 🙁

  23. sim 9 years ago

    thx, it works for me 🙂

  24. Eser 9 years ago

    Thank you, worked fine for me :).

  25. lemycanh 9 years ago

    Works great! tyvm!

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