Pocket-lint is supported by its readers. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

(Pocket-lint) - Any time you build a new PC from scratch, whether it's for gaming or to work on, you'll come to a point when you need to install Windows to the computer so that you can get started (provided you've decided to go with Microsoft's ubiquitous operating system).

That process might sound simple, but since you're installing it for the first time it can be quite fiddly - here's a step-by-step guide to how you can install Windows 10 to a PC from a USB drive.

How to install Windows 10 from a USB drive

Before you get started, you're going to need three fairly simple things:

  • A licence key that you've bought for Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro.
  • A USB thumb drive that has at least 8GB of free space
  • The Windows Installation Media tool on another computer

Getting started with the actual steps, first plug your USB drive into a different, working PC or Mac (we've found the PC version works far more reliably, but it does also work on Mac) .

Open up the Windows Installation Media tool, then follow the instructions and point it at the USB drive you want to use. It'll turn that drive into a little installation platform for a new build.

Once it's all finished, remove the USB drive and plug it into your newly built, powered-off PC. Turn it on and press DEL on your keyboard as soon as it boots up, to enter the BIOS.

From here, look for the boot menu - this determines what the computer tries to load as it turns on. Select your new USB drive as the first one it should try. Exit the BIOS, saving if you're prompted, and the computer should restart.

From here, you should find it loads from the USB drive and you can follow on-screen prompts to install Windows 10. You'll want the 64-bit version when offered, and can choose what internal drive to install it to. If you can select your quickest storage, this will make for quicker loading when you turn your PC on. 

The last step is to authenticate your copy by entering the license key you bought when prompted. You can continue without one, and buy it later, but you'll be locked out of lots of settings and it's worth getting ready ahead of time.


Comparing Nvidia's GeForce RTX 30-series GPUs to its 10-series models

That should be all you need to do - from there, what you do on your new Windows PC will be entirely up to you.

PC Gaming now has a dedicated hub page!
PC Gaming Week in association with Nvidia GeForce RTX may have come to an end, but you can still find all of that great content as well as all future PC gaming news, reviews, features and more on our dedicated hub page.

Writing by Max Freeman-Mills. Editing by Adrian Willings.