August 4, 2013

Windows 7 USB Installation via USB 3.0

In hopes of helping a few fellow PC builders, I ran into a very odd issue the other night while helping a friend install Windows 7 on a new PC.

I created a bootable Windows 7 SP1 USB drive using the handy Windows 7 USB/DVD download tool. I popped the flash drive (a Sandisk Cruzer) into one of the USB 3.0 ports and entered the BIOS settings. I configured the boot settings for using the Cruzer as the first boot device and rebooted the machine. Still smooth sailing, the machine jumped into the Windows installer sequence as expected. After I clicked the “Install now” button, all of a sudden I was greeted with the message “A required CD/DVD drive device driver is missing”. Just for reference the motherboard I was installing this on was an ASUS Sabertooth 990FX r2.0.

Long story short, this motherboard’s USB 3.0 ports require a driver that Windows 7 does not ship with. The system has no problem booting off the drive but as soon as Windows setup is initialized, the flash drive does not appear, thus preventing installation.

The solution? Luckily the Sabertooth 990FX r2.0 had two USB 2.0 ports near the bottom of the board. Pop the USB drive into one of those ports and you’re good to go! You don’t even need to reboot the machine if you’ve already booted up via a USB 3.0 port.

I’m betting you could also remedy the situation by downloading the USB 3.0 drivers and loading them during setup…but that’s typically what I prefer to do once Windows is up and running.

Either way, a very annoying issue that ended up eating up some precious time before I realized the problem.

© Eric Barch 2023