How To Install SBS 2011 With A Bootable USB Drive

It seems like every release of Windows Small Business Server is bigger than the last, and SBS 2011 is no exception.  In fact, it’s downright HUGE! If you’ve downloaded the SBS 2011 Standard ISO from TechNet or MSDN, you’ve probably noticed that it’s actually too large to burn with a conventional DVD drive:

Sizes of ISO images for installing SBS 2003 R2, SBS 2008 and SBS 2011

Obviously, if you’re installing SBS 2011 as a Hyper-V child, downloading a 6.35 GB ISO straight onto the Hyper-V parent OS is no big deal. But if you want to install SBS 2011 on bare metal, you’ll probably need a bootable USB drive.

Here are the instructions on how to create your own bootable USB flash drive from scratch for installation of SBS 2011 Standard.

What you’ll need:

Update 2011/01/10 – As Kendall Morrison reminded me, your Windows PC needs to be running a 64-bit OS when you do this.

The demo environment.

For the purposes of this walkthrough, here are the drive letters on my Win7 PC:

  • The 6.35 GB SBS 2011 ISO is sitting in a folder on drive D:
  • The ISO will be mounted using Virtual CloneDrive in drive G:
  • The bootable USB drive will be drive H:

A Windows Explorer view of the drives on my Win7 PC

Go ahead and insert your USB flash drive, if you haven’t done so already.

Below is my drive layout in Disk Management.

A Disk Management view of the drives on my Win7 PC

Obviously, your drive letters will be different.


  1. In Windows Explorer, right-click the SBS 2011 ISO and mount it.
    Mount the ISO as a virtual drive (I'm using Virtual CloneDrive)
    Close the AutoPlay window (if one pops up).
  2. From the Start Menu, open an Administrative Command Prompt.
    Open the Command Prompt using Run as Administrator
  3. At the command prompt, type:

    DISKPART (hit Enter)

    LIST DISK (hit Enter)

    Open DiskPart and view the drives in your system

  4. Locate your USB flash drive in the list (mine is Disk 3).

    Type the following commands (hitting Enter after each one):

    SELECT DISK 3 (or whatever your USB disk number is)







    Select the Disk, clean it, partition it, make it active, format it, and assign it a letter

  5. At this point, AutoPlay will probably pop up and tell you that a new disk was found which matches the drive letter of your USB flash drive.

    You can close the AutoPlay window

    Close the AutoPlay window (if one pops up).

  6. Back in the Command Prompt, type the following:

    EXIT (hit Enter)

    DiskPart will finish, but leave the Command Prompt window open.

    Exiting DiskPart

  7. Next we need to make the USB drive bootable. Type the following commands (hitting Enter after each one):

    G: (G: is my mounted SBS 2011 ISO drive)


    BOOTSECT.EXE /NT60 H: (H: is my USB drive)

    Command prompt instructions for making the disk bootable
    Close the Command Prompt window.

  8. Now we need to copy the install bits from the ISO to the flash drive:

    Open the mounted SBS 2011 ISO drive (which is drive G: for me)

    Highlight and copy all of the contents of the SBS 2011 drive.

    Copy the SBS 2011 installation files from the mounted ISO

    Paste the contents into the root of the USB drive (which is H: for me)

    Right-click the USB drive and paste the SBS 2011 installation files into the root

    The file copy will take a while (about 5-10 minutes), depending on the speed of your USB flash drive.

    File copy is complete

  9. Once the file copy is complete, safely eject the USB flash drive from your Windows PC and physically remove it.
    Eject the USB flash drive
  10. Unmount the ISO of SBS 2011 (which is drive G: for me)
    Unmount the ISO of SBS 2011 Standard

Now you just need to insert the bootable USB flash drive into your physical SBS 2011 box, set the boot option in the BIOS to boot from USB, and start the installation on the bare metal. Happy installing!

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3 Replies to “How To Install SBS 2011 With A Bootable USB Drive”

  1. If you get to step 8 (the copy part) and get a permissions error on a single file…that file is probably autorun.inf, and you probably have Trend Micro antivirus.
    Took me a while to figure out why I needed permissions from God when I AM God on this system!

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