How to create a copy of Windows software

Updated: 01/31/2019 by Computer Hope
Windows logo

Today, CDs and DVDs are being used far less than they had been previously due to much faster and smaller storage media with bigger capacities (e.g., USB thumb drives). Consequently, many users don't have (or never had) a Windows installation disc. That's where to use an ISO image file. To learn how to create a USB thumb drive (or DVD) with a copy of Windows on it, choose your version of Windows from the list below and follow the instructions.


While each of these copies of Windows software are free, you'll need a valid product key to activate and use them.

Windows 10

  1. Open your browser and head to the Windows 10 installation media page.
  2. Under the Create Windows 10 installation media section, click the The Download tool now button. button.
  3. After the tool finishes downloading, run and install it.
  4. On the next screen, click the circle next to Create installation media for another PC and then click the The Next button in Windows. button.
  5. Ensure that the box next to Use the recommended options for this PC is checked, and then click the The Next button in Windows. button.

The checkbox for using the recommended installation options for Windows.

  1. On the next screen, choose either USB flash drive (A), ISO file (B), and then click Next (C).

The screen in which you choose where to download an ISO.


We recommend choosing the USB flash drive option as it is a faster and better storage medium. Also, many new computers don't have a DVD-ROM drive.

  1. Locate your thumb drive in File Explorer or choose another download location.
  2. Once your download has finished, you may use it to install the Windows 10 operating system.

If you chose to download the ISO file, you'll need to burn it to a DVD before it can be used to install Windows.

Windows 7 and 8.1

The steps for both Windows 7 and 8.1 are nearly identical; the only difference is when you're prompted to enter your product key.

  1. Open your browser and head to the Windows 7 disc image page or the Windows 8.1 disc image page.
  2. Windows 7 users will first need to enter their product key, and then click the The Verify button in Windows. button.
  3. Otherwise, on the front page, select your edition (A), click Confirm (B), select your language (C), and then click Confirm (D).

The options for createing an ISO in Windows 8.1.

  1. On the next page, select either a 64 or 32-bit download.

Select 64 or 32-bit buttons.

  1. Once your download has finished, you can create a thumb drive copy or burn a DVD:

Putting the ISO onto a thumb drive

After opening the ISO in File Explorer, you can drag and drop the file onto a thumb drive.

An image showing and ISO file being copied to a thumb drive.

Burning a copy to a DVD

  1. Open the ISO file in File Explorer.
  2. Right-click the ISO file and select Burn disc image from the drop-down menu.

The option to burn a Windows disc image.

  1. In the window that appears, choose your DVD burner drive and then click the THe burn button in Windows 10. button.