Putting the Windows 7 installation on a USB thumb drive has a few advantages—a small USB key is much more convenient for carrying around than a DVD, the OS will actually install much faster, and you can use a USB key to install Windows 7 on systems that do not have a DVD drive, such as a netbook. In fact, you can even install Windows 7 on netbooks that have fairly modest hardware. Dennis Chung, an IT Pro Evangelist at Microsoft recently posted a video demonstrating how easy it is to prepare your thumb drive and use it to install Windows 7. Here’s a quick look at the process:

* First, you’ll need the DiskPart utility on the system you will use to prep the thumb drive. This is a free disk partitioning utility that is likely already installed on your Windows system. If not, you can download DiskPart here

* Launch the DiskPart utility by typing diskpart at the Start Menu.

* Then run the list disk command to check the status of your drive.

* Now run select disk 1 where the “1” is actually the corresponding number of your USB drive. More »

Get your hands on a USB drive that’s at least 3GB in size. You’ll also need a Windows Vista installation disk.

Format the USB Drive

1. Insert the USB drive into your computer.

2. Right-click Computer in the Start menu and then select Manage.

3. Select Disk Management under Storage in the left column of the Computer Management window.

4. Right-click the USB drive in the bottom center section of the Computer Management window and select Format. Warning: Make sure you select the right disk to format. Formatting a disk will erase all data on it.

5. Change the file system to NTFS and then click OK to format the USB drive.

6. Wait for the USB drive to be formatted. The formatting progress will be shown in the Computer Management window. More »

Open up an administrator mode command prompt by right-clicking on the shortcut and choosing Run as Administrator, then type in diskpart to load up the disk partitioning command line tool.

The most important step is to run the following command, which will give you the numbers of the disks, so you can use it in the next command (and not accidentally remove a partition on another drive).

list disk

Now that you know the correct number for the disk, you can use the select disk command, substituting the number 1 for whatever number your flash drive is set to: More »

If you have important files that are stored in a particular disk drive (disk partition) that you don’t want to expose it, you can hide it! Windows XP provides a utility to just that. Here is how it goes:

1. Go to Start > Run > Type diskpart
2. A dos window will appear (see below). Then type list volume. More »

li>Primary Partitions, Extended Partitions and Logical Partitions: A hard disk can have a maximum of only 4 partitions, which are called PRIMARY PARTITIONS. In the early days of the PC, this four-partition limit was deemed sufficient. To go beyond this limit, a special kind of primary partition called EXTENDED PARTITION was invented. A hard disk could have ONLY ONE extended partition but this particular partition could have any number of smaller partitions called LOGICAL PARTITIONS housed inside it. More »