How to Install Programs on a Netbook Without a CD Player

by Benjamin Aries

Netbooks are small, portable computers that are often marketed as inexpensive alternatives to notebooks. In order to minimize the size and cost of these devices, many manufacturers produce netbooks that do not have internal CD drives. Owners of netbooks can use several alternative methods to load software onto the computer. The Internet can be used to access downloads and cloud-based storage. Portable USB drives are also available for transferring and installing new programs.

Download from the Internet

Launch the Web browser that is included on the netbook. Browse directly to the website of the publisher for the desired software. For example, visit to download the Mozilla Firefox Web browser or to download Microsoft Office.

Visit a general software download site, if you don't know the address of the software publisher's website. Download sites that are owned by major online publishing companies, such as CNET's and CBS Interactive's are generally safe download locations.

Locate the installation file for the chosen software program. This file often has an .exe or .zip extension. Right-click on the file link and select "Save As" in the context menu. The exact wording of the save feature may vary, depending on the browser. Choose a local folder on the netbook, and click "Save."

Browse to the local folder, and double-click the file name to launch the installation. Select an install directory for the program. Follow the steps listed in the software installation wizard. The exact instructions vary based on the program.

Use a USB Drive

Use the netbook's USB port to transfer installation files from a portable USB drive. Push the male USB connection into an available port while the netbook is fully booted.

Wait for the USB drive to be detected by the netbook. Modern operating systems automatically detect the drive after several seconds. Look for a system message that indicates the drive is ready to access.

Browse to the USB thumb drive location in a file manager. Click the Start button, then "Computer" in Windows 7. Click "My Computer" in Windows XP. Double-click the external drive icon to view the list of files.

Click and drag over all of the installation files to select them or right-click and choose "Select All." Right-click on the selected files and select "Copy."

Browse to a convenient location on the netbook's local drive. Right-click in the folder and press "Paste."

Double-click the newly copied installation file and follow the specific prompts to complete the software setup.

Install from a Cloud Location

Access an online cloud storage location, if the program is saved on an Internet drive. Services such as and Microsoft Skydrive can be used for this purpose.

Browse to the netbook's shortcut for the cloud drive. The cloud storage is often listed along with other drives in the "My Computer" or "Places" folder.

Enter the username and password to access the cloud drive. These are set when the drive is first set up, or provided by another cloud drive user who has authorized you to access the files.

Select the software installation files from the cloud drive location. Right-click and press "Select All" to highlight all of the files, or click and drag to select only a portion. Right-click on the chosen files and click "Copy."

Browse to a local folder on the netbook. Right-click and choose "Paste." When the files are copied from the cloud location, double-click on the installation file and follow the software setup steps.

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