Error message when you try to install Windows Vista: "Windows is unable to find a system volume which meets its criteria for installation"

Symptoms

When you try to install Windows Vista, you may receive the following error message:
Windows is unable to find a system volume which meets its criteria for installation.
You experience this symptom if the following conditions are true:
  • In the BIOS, a universal serial bus (USB) removable device is set as the start device, or the USB removable device is set to a higher priority than the first hard disk drive in the start order.
  • You attach a non-bootable USB device to a USB port before you start the computer.
  • You try to install Windows Vista from DVD installation media.
Note In Windows 7, you may receive the following error message:
Setup was unable to create a new system partition or locate an existing system partition. See the Setup log files for more information.

Cause

This issue occurs because the Windows Vista installation must be able to write to the boot volume of the computer, and the boot volume must be non-removable to prevent later removal of the boot device. If the boot device were removed, this would make it impossible for Windows Vista to start. A computer is restarted several times during installation. Because the BIOS reports the USB device as the boot device, and the USB device is removable, Windows Vista Installation cannot continue. This is by design.

Resolution

To work around this issue, use one of the following methods.

Method 1

Remove the USB removable device before you turn on the system. You may insert the device after Windows Vista installation starts.

Method 2

Change the BIOS settings so that the USB removable device has a lower priority than the internal hard disk drive and the DVD drive.

Status

This behavior is by design.

More Information

Steps to reproduce the issue

  1. Configure the BIOS to set a USB removable device as a start device with a higher priority than the hard disk drive.
  2. Configure the BIOS to start from the CD drive or from the DVD drive with a higher priority than the hard disk drive.
  3. Turn off the computer.
  4. Attach a non-bootable USB device to a USB port on the computer.
  5. Start the computer.
  6. Insert the DVD installation media into the DVD drive.
  7. At the Press any key to boot from CD or DVD prompt, press any key, and then select the DVD drive as the start device.
  8. Continue the Windows Vista installation.
  9. On the Disk Selection page of Windows Vista Setup, try to install Windows Vista on the USB removable drive. Notice that you receive the error message that is mentioned in the "Symptoms" section.
Properties

Article ID: 938984 - Last Review: Feb 21, 2010 - Revision: 1

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