How To Install Windows 7 On USB Flash/Hard Drive [Easy Way]

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Microsoft introduced “Windows To Go” with Windows 8 Enterprise and has continued supporting the feature in Windows 10, which can be kept on a pen drive in your pocket as a portable operating system. For a long time this was a neat thing you could do with many Linux distros we plan to cover Linux Live on a separate article soon , but barring driver complications and hardware limitations, a Windows To Go drive should boot from “most” computers. Booting a Windows 10 “To Go” drive on a modern machine that shipped with Windows 10 is likely to work fine, and because performance if often of the essence, a USB 3. Older systems that originally sold with Vista or XP may work, too, but will have reduced processing power and slower USB ports, meaning they might not meet the minimum hardware requirements, listed below:
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Microsoft introduced “Windows To Go” with Windows 8 Enterprise and has continued supporting the feature in Windows 10, which can be kept on a pen drive in your pocket as a portable operating system. For a long time this was a neat thing you could do with many Linux distros we plan to cover Linux Live on a separate article soon , but barring driver complications and hardware limitations, a Windows To Go drive should boot from “most” computers.

Booting a Windows 10 “To Go” drive on a modern machine that shipped with Windows 10 is likely to work fine, and because performance if often of the essence, a USB 3.

Older systems that originally sold with Vista or XP may work, too, but will have reduced processing power and slower USB ports, meaning they might not meet the minimum hardware requirements, listed below: This profile is remembered and automatically selected on subsequent boot-ups.

However, we also experienced various complications when creating and booting different versions of Windows To Go Hardware and software configurations tested Before we get to creating a Windows To Go drive, here’s an overview of the testing that was performed using a variety of hardware and software combinations as well as some recommendations and considerations about configuring a portable Windows drive. This is typical for USB expansion cards and worth mentioning in the event that you attempt to boot from one.

Here is more information on how to boot from a USB drive if the subject is unfamiliar to you. Besides being fast enough to run an operating system, certified USB drives are designed to appear as fixed instead of removable devices when plugged into Windows. Both types of drives can technically be used for Windows To Go, but only fixed ones will work with the creation tool built into Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise.

The ancient Patriot drive was included out of curiosity and its performance was as poor as you’d expect. Sometimes the initial setup process for Windows 10 would BSOD or fail some other way, and when the process did complete, the performance was slow to say the least, taking upwards of 30 seconds to open a menu for instance — if it would open at all. This configuration might only be useful for a recovery environment if you had no other option, though a lightweight Linux distro might make more sense on such a slow drive.

We purchased this drive at the recommendation of a reader. However, as mentioned before, this level of performance is available for considerably less money on “non-certified” USB drives, which can still be used for Windows To Go via third party tools. Microsoft’s official utility has other limitations as well and we imagine most of you will wind up using third-party tools.

Here are some additional non-certified drives that we recommend based on their price and advertised speed the first two are removable and not fixed, the third should be fixed: These models are around the same cost per gig prices change a lot but again, the Corsair drive appears to Windows as fixed and not removable, which is ideal for a Windows To Go drive.

If we had to guess, you are more likely to encounter bit-capable machines than bit-exclusive machines at this point. There may be more bit systems in existence overall, but most of them are also outdated. We don’t suggest using Windows 7 or Windows 8 To Go unless you’re sure they’ll boot on the systems you’ll be using. Third-party Windows To Go creation tools also tended to fail more frequently when using Windows 7 and 8 images, which are less supported in general.

Windows 10 bit should have the best driver compatibility on the machines that you are most likely to use, especially if they are on the newer side. Booting the same configuration from USB 2. And while the creation tool is available on Pro, it still requires an Enterprise image file to create the Windows To Go drive — among other limitations. Fortunately, there are several ways to get an Enterprise image.

Microsoft offers a direct download of Windows 10 Enterprise ISO for evaluation after you fill out a form, and you can download an Enterprise install. You’ll also have to extract the install. You can convert. Even if you have an Enterprise image however, the native Windows To Go utility won’t work with most USB drives, including two out of three of the ones we used for testing. As we’ve been saying, the built-in tool only works with select USB drives that appear to Windows as “fixed” and not “removable.

Historically, the main difference here is that Windows can’t mount multiple partitions at once on removable drives only the first primary partition is mounted , yet Windows installation drives tend to have at least two partitions: However, as of the Windows 10 Creators Update, the operating system can mount multiple partitions on removable USB drives, and in testing we were also able to create a bootable Windows To Go drive with only one partition.

Regardless, although the 32GB Samsung drive is recognized by the built-in Windows To Go tool, the software explains that the device is removable and thus not compatible. While the Corsair Voyager isn’t certified for WTG either, this drive is fixed instead of removable and does work with native utility, though the software recognizes that the device technically isn’t certified. You can determine if a drive is fixed or removable from Disk Management search Start or Run for diskmgmt.

Look at the squares toward the bottom left where the drive descriptions say “Basic” or “Removable. Making a removable drive appear as fixed With some effort and risk, there are several methods you can try to make your removable drive appear as fixed, though there’s not much reason to mess with this setting when third-party Windows To Go tools will work with non-fixed drives.

We aren’t recommending these approaches but acknowledge there are various methods around the web that can either flip the removable media bit on your flash drive or install a filter driver on Windows so the OS determines the drive as fixed. Proceed at your own risk, namely a bricked USB drive or blue screening Windows, the latter of which we experienced when testing filter drivers and had to restore from a recovery image.

Third-party Windows To Go creation tools Rufus is probably the most popular tool that can create a Windows To Go drive for Windows 8 and 10, though it may not be so obvious at first glance. Here’s a quick guide on the Windows To Go creation process from Rufus 3. This worked for both the removable and fixed USB drives that we used for testing: However, Rufus 3.

Because of this Windows will most likely freeze during boot, as Microsoft hasn’t designed it to work with drives that instead have the removable attribute. Do you still want to proceed?

However those tools are almost never provided to the public. Here are many other tools that can make a portable Windows drive: Getting started: Select a Windows image file. Click the “Windows To Go Creator” on the left and follow the prompts. FlashBoot – Has a variety of features for USB drives, including the ability to create one that will boot independently from your primary operating system. The software can also use the.

Useful downloads for manual creation: Delete the previous volume s , create a new volume, format that volume, give the partition a letter and then make that partition active. At this point, the USB drive should be ready for you to install the operating system files from one of the aforementioned archive files.

Your Windows ISO will have one or the other — you only need one of them and you can convert. GImageX can apply the install. Quick instructions for GImageX: After copying the system files, you’ll also have to create the boot data via Command Prompt using the OS files that you just copied to the portable drive. Enter the following line from an admin Command Prompt, where G: Not wanting to pay for premium licenses, we tested various ways to manually export our current OS from an SSD to a USB drive using a few free utilities and the Disk Management software already on Windows diskmgmt.

Useful downloads for a manual export: This is a full copy of the drive in one file so you’ll need enough storage for that. Mount that VHD file with a drive letter in Windows: The USB drive might boot after cloning the VHD, though several times during testing we had to reapply boot information to the drive from an admin Command Prompt.

You’ll also want Disk Management open to see how many partitions are on the drive and what letters are assigned to them. Entering the following line into an elevated Command Prompt will apply the boot information I: If there are two partitions on your USB drive, apply the boot files to the smaller one, while if there is only a single partition then you can apply the boot data there.

However, our Windows To Go drive loaded to a blue screen error that read “VHD Boot Host Volume Not Enough Space” and required a registry modification to the system inside the virtual hard drive, making as much or more work out of the WTG creation process than our manual method above. If you are going this route, you might as well change the registry setting on your system before creating the VHD so you don’t have to load the registry hive separately afterward.

You want to change the following registry key so the DWORD value is 4 instead of 1 to prevent the virtual disk from expanding when mounted. Additionally, note that Rufus can copy VHD files to USB drives, though you might have to configure the boot data beyond the command mentioned above links at the end of the article should get you started.

Best practices and configuration tips From the user’s perspective, the first time Windows To Go is booted it performs some initial configuration before presenting the familiar setup process that you go through on any fresh Windows installation creating a user account essentially.

After that, the operating system loads up as if it were installed on any other drive. For the most part, this is a full Windows installation, though there are a few differences in configuration and usage practices.

Disabled functionality on Windows To Go: Internal disks are offline. This prevents data from being exchanged between the Windows To Go drive and those in the host machine. These drives can be enabled but it’s not recommended because if the host machine is hibernating, you’ll delete that user state and any unsaved data along with it.

This may also corrupt the host PC’s operating system. Hibernate is disabled by default. Hibernation also occupies a significant amount of storage. When using BitLocker Drive Encryption, a pre-operating system boot password will be used for security instead of TPM, which is bound to a specific computer and Windows To Go drives will move between computers.

Windows Recovery Environment is excluded. Microsoft says you should re-image the Windows To Go drive instead. Upgrading a Windows To Go workspace also isn’t supported. Older Windows 8 or Windows 8. For new versions, the drive needs to be re-imaged with a fresh copy of Windows.

Best practice suggestions for using Windows To Go: Always shut down Windows and wait for shutdown to complete before removing the Windows To Go drive. Don’t insert the Windows To Go drive into a running computer. Because of power requirements, always insert the Windows To Go drive directly into a port on the computer.

If available, use a USB 3. If you unplug the drive while Windows To Go is running, Windows will freeze and you have 60 seconds to plug the drive back in. After 60 seconds, the computer will shut down and your session will be lost.

After removing the drive without shutting down properly, it’s suggested that you not plug the WTG drive into another system for risk of corrupting critical system files. After installing a few applications on a fresh WTG drive we started receiving notifications from Windows about the 32GB Samsung drive running low on space, though there was still around 10GB free.

Usage Impressions and How to Build Your Own “To Go” Drive

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VIDEO: Windows To Go: How to Install and Run Windows 10 from a USB Drive – TechSpot

Problem 2: Using a non-certified Windows To Go USB Drive Mount the ISO and use 7Zip or a similar tool to open the soft.isp.regruhosting.ru file. WinToUSB will install and run the Windows operating system on a USB hard drive or USB flash drive, using an ISO image or CD/DVD drive as the source of. Usage Impressions and How to Build Your Own “To Go” Drive .. WinToUSB – This tool is dedicated to creating Windows To Go drives and has.

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