How to create a portable version of Windows on a USB / Hard Disk drive

How to create a portable version of Windows on a USB / Hard Disk

A portable version of Windows -as the name implies- is a version of Windows you can carry around with you on your storage device. You only need connect such a device to a PC, boot the PC from the device and you have your Windows up and running. You may call it “Windows-On-The-Go”.

I – for one – found this very helpful when a friend was having a major crisis on his PC. The hard disk had crashed and all Windows recovery techniques failed. What I did was to:

  • Remove the Hard Disk
  • Slave it to a PC as an external Hard Disk Drive (HDD)
  • Fix the various partitions using the guide at http://journal.hovatek.com/how-to-fix-repair-corrupt-memory-card-sd-card-or-usb-drive/
  • Re-partition the HDD into one small (for system) and one large (for boot) partition using the guide at http://journal.hovatek.com/how-to-partition-a-hard-disk-or-storage-device-in-windows/
  • I then Installed a portable version of Windows on the HDD and slotted it back into the PC… it worked flawlessly

What are the benefits of using a portable Windows installation?

  • If you do not have a PC of your own, you’ll find this very helpful as it can act as your own PC that is accessible on any available PC
  • It can be used to install Windows to corrupted hard disks when Windows CD,DVD & Bootable flash drives (as explained at http://journal.hovatek.com/how-to-install-windows-7-with-and-without-the-operating-system-cd-dvd/ ) fail
  • For security conscious people, a portable storage device is easier to secure than a laptop / desktop PC (speaking in terms of size)

What are the disadvantages of using a portable Windows installation?

  • If you’re the careless type then you might find a small portable storage device easier to misplace than a laptop. Hell! I know some people who could misplace an adult elephant in an empty room
  • The storage device might get corrupted by malware (see http://journal.hovatek.com/how-to-recover-corrupted-files-lost-files-from-corrupt-or-accidentally-formatted-usb-devices/ ) or interruption of read-write processes by pulling out without shutting down or unmounting

How do I boot a PC from a portable Windows installation device?

The first thing to do is to connect the portable device to the PC. At this point, there are three options:

  1. Boot into BIOS (keep tapping F10 on boot) and change the boot order (under Configuration) so that USB drive will be at the top
  2. Keep tapping F12 on boot (on other PCs, it might range from F6 – F12) and select the portable device from the list
  3. A manual technique would be to replace the PC’s hard disk with the hard disk containing the portable Windows installation

Can I save / transfer files within the portable Windows installation?

Yes, you can do virtually anything you would do on your normal PC on a portable Windows installation.

What do I need to create a portable Windows installation?

 How do I create a portable version of Windows on a USB / Hard Disk drive? 

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1. Install and launch WinToUSB

how to create a portable windows installation

2. Click the browse icon at the top right corner

how to create a portable windows installation

3. In the window that pops up, select the ISO file and click Open

how to create a portable windows installation

4. Select the version of Windows you wish to install from the list then click Next

how to create a portable windows installation

5. Select the storage device you wish to install Windows to from the dropdown menu

how to create a portable windows installation

6. Select the system partition and boot partition then click Next.

  • A system partition contains the hardware-related files and the Boot folder that tell a computer where to look to start Windows. It contains files like BOOTMGR, NTLDR, BOOT.INI etc
  • A boot partition is a partition that contains Windows Operating System files. For example, if you have a multi-boot computer that contains Windows Vista on one volume and Windows 7 on another, then each of those volumes are considered separate boot partitions

* Make system partition less than 4GB and boot partition at least 20GB (this is where the Windows OS will be installed to). See http://journal.hovatek.com/how-to-partition-a-hard-disk-or-storage-device-in-windows/ for how to partition

how to create a portable windows installation

7. If you get an error saying “Already has a version of Windows installed or the same name file has been existed! Please format the destination partition and retry. (0x000000F200AC0000)” then format the storage device and repeat the procedure

how to create a portable windows installation

8. Installation should begin, wait till it reaches 100% and shows completed before disconnecting the storage device

how to create a portable windows installation

 

 

How do I fix startup errors that occur after I’ve started using a portable Windows installation?

Simply follow the guide at http://journal.hovatek.com/how-to-fix-a-computer-that-will-not-startup-or-boot/

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