How to Install Windows without usb key with WinToHDD

Do you want to install Windows 10 or Windows 11, but you don’t have a USB key? No problem, there is a solution to directly install Windows on a hard drive from another computer. Our guide works for Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows 10 and Windows 11.

The prerequisites for Installing Windows without a USB key

The hard drive (HDD or SSD)

To install Windows you need a HDD preferably SSD to get better performance.

The SSD hard drive must be plugged into your computer in order to initialize it.

To plug it in, you can use an external box which allows it to be connected via USB, but to take advantage of the tool for free your hard drive must be plugged in from your computer. In “external disk” mode you must purchase a license.

To install Windows on an external hard drive or a USB key, I invite you to use WIN TO USB.

Once plugged in, you can check the status of your hard drive in Disk Management.

To access the Disk Manager just do the combination of Windows key + R and type diskmgmt.msc

windows disk manager

The manager appears, you must identify your hard drive.

disk manager on windows
The menu is accessible from a right click. Sometimes you may see Not initialized, in which case you need to initialize it.

Windows ISO

To proceed with the installation of Windows you must download Windows ISO.

The ISO makes it possible to proceed with the complete installation of the Windows system.

The WinToHDD Tool

Finally you need to download theWinToHDD tool which allows you to install Windows without a USB key using a WINDOWS ISO.

The product is paid to install Windows on an external hard disk (disk in an enclosure).

WinToHDD is available for download here:

Win To HDD page

Installing the app is quick and fairly straightforward.

We can go through the different stages.

Step 1 – Using WinToHDD

WinToHDD offers several features, on our side we will use the feature that allows you to install Windows without a USB key.

wintohdd choice new installation

Then we need to add the ISO. Below is an example with the Windows 11 ISO to download with theRUFUS tool .

WinToHDD ISO choice
WinToHDD options with a WINDOWS 11 ISO

Next we need to select the hard drive for installation.

wintohdd the choice of hard drive
The KINGSTON 120GB SSD hard drive.

The tool offers to format the disk according to the type of your motherboard BIOS or UEFI. Newer computers are usually UEFI.

wintohdd format choice
The choice of disk format is different depending on the type of motherboard. BIOS or UEFI.

Wait, WinTOHDD then offers you to select the EFI system partition and the Boot system partition.

The tool automatically sized the EFI and boot partition.

choice of efi and boot system on WinToHDD
click on next to install Windows without a USB key

The installation starts.

wintohdd install windows without usb key
Installation is in progress

Once completed, here is the contents of the hard drive:

install windows without usb drive
Note that Windows is installed.

Step 2 – Start Windows

You must now connect the hard drive to your new computer. Remember to define the startup (boot) on this disk in the BIOS or UEFI settings of your motherboard.

The system is booting up and so you have successfully install Windows without needing a USB key.

At the first start Windows scans the peripherals of the computer and installs the drivers necessary for proper operation. Then you go to the Windows desktop.

Our Opinion on WinTOHDD

WinToHDD is a very practical tool to install Windows without USB key. The free version is sufficient as long as you can plug the target hard drive directly into the computer’s motherboard.

To benefit from more functionalities, it is possible to buy a license (29th) on the site. Among other things, you can install Windows on an external hard drive, but also clone your hard drive.

wintohdd menu clone
WinToHDD Clone Module