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How to Install Windows 7 Over the Network Using PXE Booting and TFTP

By:Christine Fettinger

I recently finished upgrading the rest of the office over to Windows 7, as well as rebuilding my own laptop to the final release instead of the RC version. Of course the first computer I started on had a broken DVD drive so I had to find an alternative way to install it. I probably could’ve copied the disc over to a USB drive or use a USB DVD drive, but it got me thinking that I should setup a network installation point instead and use the PXE boot capabilities of these computers.

Here are the steps I used:

1. Copy the contents of the Windows 7 installation disc to a server location and set it up as a network share.

2. Download the following program to the server:TFTPboot.exe

3. Exact the files from the download to the C: drive.

4. From the extracted files, run TFTP32.exe.

5. Click settings and change the following: Uncheck Option negotiation, Check PXE Compatibility, CheckAllow ‘\’ As virtual root. Make sure Base Directory is a single dot. Click Ok.

6. Select the DHCP tab and setup the IP pool starting address and Size of pool for your network. For Boot File, use: boot\

7. On the computer that you want to install Windows 7 on, enter the Boot Selection Menu (usually by hitting F12 when starting up the machine).

8. Select Network Boot (or PXE Boot). If this option is not available, check the BIOS settings to make sure the feature is available and turned on.

9. Follow any prompts and then wait. After a while, the computer should boot to a CMD window.

10. In the CMD window, type: net use z: \\{server IP}\{share name}

11. Log in with a network username and password (Use the ‘domain\username’ format for username).

12. Type Setup and the Windows 7 installation should begin.

It all worked surprisingly well in the end. The TFTPboot setup appears to be complitcated at first glance, but it’s actually just a few settings that need changing. After you have set this up once, in the future you just turn TFTPboot back on and you are ready to install again. No more hunting for discs/