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Can't install Windows 7 from specific USB flashdrive (Sandisk Extreme 32GB USB 3.0)

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

Hoping someone can shed some light on an issue I have been having with my newest USB stick, purchased in March 2013. The exact model is "SDCZ80-032G-X46" - title shows the brand/model. I purchased it as it was advertised and confirmed with various user reviews as having read speeds of 190MB/s and write speeds of ~100 MB/s on USB 3.0.

The stick itself works fine as a storage device, and I see the rated speeds consistently. My issue is that I can't install Windows 7 from it.

I've installed Windows 7 probably hundreds of time from my old Corsair USB 2.0 stick. To generate the USB installer, I downloaded a direct link of Windows 7 Ultimate w/ SP1. I then used the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download tool to "burn" to the USB stick. The process goes through with no issue.

I am also able to boot to the disk no problem, and the Windows PE loads with no problem. I am able to select the regional stuff, then accept the Windows 7 license agreement.

Where it fails is when I attempt to select the disk that I want to install to. I generally like to delete all the partitions and then create a new one for installing Windows to. When this particular USB stick is plugged in and I attempt to do this, it doesn't create the 100MB reserved system partition that is typically generated at this step. I know with certainty that this is the issue because if I use my Corsair USB 2.0 stick (with an identical bit-for-bit image installed), and get to this step, it DOES create the reserved system partition. The actual error message at this stage is "Windows cannot be installed to disk 0 partition 1" - this is occurring because this USB stick can't create the system reserved drive.

Even on the same boot if I swap the USB stick out for my identically generated Corsair stick, it will create the partition! I can swap the stick back out for my Sandisk USB 3 drive and Windows will install. The problem is isolated to the step where the Windows PE cannot create the system reserved (MBR?) partition when this particular drive is connected.

There are a few somewhat advanced solutions I have attempted - USB 3 has some well documented issues installing Windows 7. I injected the USB 3 drivers into boot.wim file and replacing it on the USB stick (my laptop has 4 USB 3.0 slots and no USB 2.0 slots, but I don't think the issue is USB 3.0 since my laptop uses the intel USB 3.0 eXtensible ports so is backward compatible with USB 2.0 drivers that are present in the Windows PE).

Another thing I came across in my research involves the controller on the USB stick. Apparently it uses an SSD controller rather than a Flash drive controller. Windows 7 seems to possibly also have issues when you try to install Windows 7 with an external Hard drive connected (as opposed to USB flash storage).

Any thoughts?
post #2 of 3
Hi ilovecookiez

I have exactly same issue with only difference that I bought 16GB version of same model SanDisk Extreme USB 3.0 flash drive.
I did some testing with different USB flash drives on several computers trying to install/deploy fresh Windows 7 to clean/unpartitioned hard drive and run into same problem.

I think this issue with SanDisk Extreme USB3.0 drives and therefore I posted on SanDisk online forum. I think it is better to develop the thred there as it is more relevant to SanDisk product rather then anything else. Why? - see SanDisk forum.
post #3 of 3
Hi ilovecookiez

This issue is only with this particular Sandisk Extreme series USB3.0 flash drives. But there is a workaround that works!

Found a workaround suggested by x23piracy and Stimpy here:



At the step when Windows 7 setup prompts to create and/or select partition to deploy Windows 7 to:

- unplug SanDisk Extreme USB3.0 flash drive from USB port;
- click Refresh button;
- setup will still indicate that Windows cannot be installed on hard drive, just ignore it;
- plug back SanDisk Extreme USB3.0 flash drive;
- click again on Refresh button;
- now you can create if required new partition for Windows and the setup will automatically create 100MB System Reserved partition;
- proceed and complete Windows 7 installation.

Thank you, x23piracy and Stimpy from SanDisk forum!

I should say it is far from ideal, and I am quite disappointed as new owner of SanDisk product because this issue has been reported to SanDisk at least in February 2013 if not earlier. I also wrote to SanDisk Support and received a response saying that they have not tested this product for booting and installing Windows OS. But the way they answered they seem not willing to deal with this issue. Too bad!

I bought and tested few other flash disk drives and these work for me well: Transcend JetFlash 780 and 700 that are USB3.0, also Transcend JetFlash 600,300 that are USB2.0.
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