Traditionally, Windows operating systems were installed using CDs and DVDs, but as optical drives get phased out from modern computing, the next best alternative for most data storage and retrieval operations is the USB flash drives.
That notwithstanding, Windows 7, until its last version, was still designed mainly for optical drive installation. With USB version 2.0, it was possible to configure a USB as bootable, copy the Windows installation files to it and use it as an alternative to CDs and DVDs.
However, with USB 3.0, it became more challenging to take this alternative approach, as Windows 7 does not come equipped with the required drivers to enable the USB stick and the hard disk to communicate effectively for Windows installation.
With this deficiency comes the error message: “A required CD/DVD drive device driver is missing. If you have a driver floppy disk, CD, DVD, or USB flash drive, please insert it now.” during Windows 7 installation.
This error is peculiar to Windows 7, with Windows 10, a similar error goes “USB Windows 10 Clean Install – A Media Driver Your Computer Needs is Missing“. You can find the fix for this Windows 10 error HERE.
Although this error message gives a hint that this is due to the absence of a device driver. However, pointing you to a CD or DVD when you’re clearly using a USB drive just makes you wonder who is misunderstanding who.
It gets even spookier to think that this happens after loading the installation files because then you wonder, how were the installation files loaded in the first place?.
Primary Reason For This Error
The primary reason for this error is that the USB controller chip on this laptop is not recognized by Windows 7, so even though you’re able to boot into the USB and load the installation files, Windows 7 is unable to reach or access the computer hard disk because the USB lacks the required drivers.
If you have the option of installing using a Windows 7 DVD, then you shouldn’t encounter this, but what if you don’t have an optical drive, then one of the solutions in this article could come in really handy.
There have been different solutions proposed to resolve this problem. Like terminating the installation, removing the USB stick, attaching it back to the same port and running the installation again from the beginning.
Another is terminating the installation, removing the USB stick, attaching it back to a different port (Supposedly changing from USB 3.0 port to USB 2.0 port) and then running the installation again from the beginning.
Then also there are suggestions to disable the USB 3.0 from the BIOS. Each of these three suggestions rarely resolves this issue. The first suggestion could work in an extremely rare situation where for some reason your USB isn’t in full contact with the connectors in the port, hence reattaching serves to establish more perfect contact.
The second solution is more likely effective than the first, but that is if the problem is coming from one point of mismatch, so if your USB stick is version 3.0 and your active ports are 3.0 also, then changing to another port won’t resolve this issue.
Here I used the word “Active” to refer to those USB ports that the manufacturer has designed to be operational before installing the operating system. Some manufacturers enable only one or two ports pre OS installation and the others get enabled after installing the OS and updating the USB drivers.
Hence if you have only the USB 3.0 ports enabled, then you will likely see this same error even after changing to other ports. The third alternative solution which is disabling the USB 3.0 port from the BIOS might be effective if your USB stick is the 2.0 standard and if a switch to 2.0 happens automatically after you disable the 3.0 ports, if not then you will still be stuck.
Most Effective Solution
I left this for the last because unlike the alternative solutions discussed above, this solution does require a bit more time to implement but is by far the most effective solution to this problem.
Here the idea is to install the required USB driver in order to enable Windows 7 to gain access to the PC hard drive and proceed with the installation. Here I’ve simplified the driver installation process into two basic steps; they’re quite easy to follow and require almost no technical skills.
Here I assume you already have a bootable USB with Windows 7 installation files, otherwise, you won’t be having this error in the first place, so I won’t get into the details of creating a bootable USB disk or copying your Windows 7 installation files to the USB. The first step is to download the Gigabyte’s Windows 7 USB Installation Tool from this page.
If you know your motherboard type, then you can download the corresponding driver, but if you’re unsure, you can try out version: B17.1023.1 which supports AMD series motherboard as shown on the image below, this version is compatible with most motherboards.
This utility tool is about 28 MB in size, so it should download pretty fast.
The second step is to append the USB 3.0 drivers to your bootable USB with Windows 7 installation files. To do that, first insert your bootable USB with the Windows 7 installation, then go to the folder where you saved the downloaded Gigabyte’s Windows Installation Tool, right-click and selecting extract all, then choose wherever you want to extract to and wait for the extraction to complete.
After the extraction, you should have a folder named “WindowsImage Tool”. Open the folder, you should see this WindowsImageTool application.
Launch by double-clicking. Here I should mention that the Gigabyte Windows USB installation tool is not a disc writing application like Rufus or Windows media creation tool, it only modifies your Windows 7 installation files by embedding the required USB drivers to it, so you don’t have to worry about the files you have saved on your USB device, the Windows image tool will not override or delete your files.
So here you should leave the source path as “None-Add USB Drivers” then in the destination path, select the USB that contains your Windows 7 installation files. Here the “Add USB drivers to an offline Windows 7 image” is selected by default, next select the “Add NVMe drivers option to an offline Windows 7 image” as well, automatically the “Add packages to an offline Windows 7” is also selected. So you should have all three options checked. Then click on start to begin the installation process.
As mentioned earlier, this will take some time in any case, possibly 15 to 30 minutes or more, with a faster USB, there could be some time saving on this process but not so much.
The good thing about it is that you only need to install the USB driver once and you can use it for multiple installations across different chipsets, so be patient for it.
After running this tool successfully, there will be no noticeable change to your Windows 7 installation files as they appear in your USB folder, however, the required drivers for the installation should have been installed and when you try running the installation again, it should proceed with no more errors.
And yes, with this USB you can still install Windows 7 through a USB 2.0 port.
- If you are having a similar issue with Windows 10, check out the solution discussed HERE.
- How To Download Latest Windows 10 ISO File For FREE
- Here is a step-by-step instruction on how to install Windows 10 from a USB flash drive.
- Fix Slow Startup on Windows 10
- How to Run Windows 10 From a Live USB Flash Drive
- How to Clone a Hard Drive or SSD in Windows 10 for Free
Please share your comments, questions, and feedback in the comment section below. The following video demonstrates the solutions in this tutorial.