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Reinstalling Windows from a boot USB made on a Mac

[SPOILER: Nope. Not the way to do it. Except for the sentence in green.]

My Windows PC has died rather dead. It does not recognize my boot drive, nor does it boot from my two back-up external drives or from the boot USB I prepared a year ago. Thus continues my 30 year streak of never having made a Windows backup — on any at least four different types of media –that I could successfully back up from.

I thus have to make a new USB boot drive but from my Mac because it turns out that I don’t know anyone within driving distance who uses a PC. And, in truth, I only use mine for games.

There are bunches of pages that tell you the Mac terminal commands that should teach you how to load the Windows installer from Windows , but one of the best I found is by Quincy Larson at FreecodeCamp. Be warned: the process is sloooowwww.

My PC booted from the USB stick, after telling the PC, via the BIOS, that that’s the drive to boot from.

The next step is two spend 2.5 days repeatedly trying to get Windows to install onto a hard drive. My directions are: try everything randomly, learn how to use “diskpart” so you can use trial and error to come up with the right partition and formatting for the receiving drive, memorize by heart and then by muscle memory the keyboard shortcuts for walking through the preliminaries of the Windows installation process, convert the receiving drive from MSR to GPT and back again as often as you can all so that at last …

… you can repeatedly be told that there are no partitions on the receiving drive, and Windows has no way of creating or formatting partitions on the disk that you know that you just partitioned and formatted, even if you politely press the “Delete” button first.

Then, when you’re at you’re breaking point looking at the Windows error message that tells you to read system logs that you can’t find and wouldn’t understand if you could, go back to DISKPART, clean (erase) your disk once more, and either create a partition but do not format it, or don’t even create a partition. At this point I honestly can’t remember. Install Windows onto that disk and you’re good to go…

…where “good to go” means to start reinstalling every bloody program because Windows’ Registry is a jealous god.

Thus does Windows continue it’s long of tradition of being great so long as everything goes well, and being a freaking nightmare when anything goes wrong.

Just ask Clippy.

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2 Responses to “Reinstalling Windows from a boot USB made on a Mac”

  1. this speaks to my fear of losing material because formats become unsupportable. One more reason to hang on to paper.

  2. I have so many different backups of documents at home and across the Web that I’m less worried about losing them than I am about losing paper. (My PC has just about no documents on it. It’s got games and goddamn Quicken; the Quicken files are backed up a couple of places.)

    Long term, I do have concerns about the longevity of even relatively stable digital media such as DVDs, and of proprietary file formats that require specialized software to be read. I’ve hit the file format issue already, as many of us have, but less so for text documents. E.g., In the late 90s into the early 2000’s I did a few dozen commentaries for All Things Considered, which I think you can still get from the NPR website … so long as they have a Real Audio server and you have a Real Audio player. [Spoiler: They don’t and you don’t.] What a loss to humanity! :)

    I do like writing with a pen on paper. It feels special. Of course, then I end up typing it into my computer, unless I’ve already lost the paper. (Spoiler: I did.)

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