Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums


Windows To Go Compatible Drives?

  1. #1


    Philadelphia
    Posts : 214
    Windows 8.1 Pro x64

    Windows To Go Compatible Drives?


    I know Microsoft put out a list of compatible drives for Windows To Go, and that it is only four drives long. Has anyone tested this feature on any other drives? Better yet, is there a list of features that a flash drive needs to support, such as a minimum read/write speed?

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  2. #2


    Posts : 22,565
    64-bit Windows 10


    Hello Scott,

    It only needs to be at least a 32 GB USB 2.0 flash drive to work. USB 3.0 is recommended for better performance.

    The certified Windows To Go USB flash drives have just been specially optimized and certified for Windows To Go and meet the necessary requirements for booting and running a full version of Windows 8 from a USB drive. Basically guaranteed for best performance with Windows To Go.
    Hope this helps.
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  3. #3


    Philadelphia
    Posts : 214
    Windows 8.1 Pro x64


    It does, thank you. I saw it demonstrated at a Windows 8 Launch Event last week, and thought it would be perfect for me. I keep an old company laptop at home for doing server updates and on-call type tasks after hours. Instead of doing that, I could boot to a usable Windows 8 desktop on a flash drive using the hardware of my much newer ultrabook...without having any effect on the installed OS.

    So if I understand right, it sounds like it's not so much a matter of "will it work" but "how fast or responsive it will be". Thanks!
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  4. #4


    Posts : 22,565
    64-bit Windows 10


    You're welcome.

    Yep, that's basically it. I'd say USB 3.0 or bust. USB 2.0 would be slow.
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  5. #5


    Philadelphia
    Posts : 214
    Windows 8.1 Pro x64


    I had another idea. What about one of these external drive enclosures with a 64 GB SSD in it? I have a spare Crucial C300 64 GB SSD, and I have several of these enclosures (the USB 2.0 kind), so I could easily pick up a USB 3.0 one and try it out.

    Vantec NexStar CX 2.5" SATA to SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Portable External Hard Drive Enclosure NST-200S3-BK - Micro Center
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  6. #6


    Posts : 22,565
    64-bit Windows 10


    You could give it a try, but I don't think it'll work since it's suppose to be on a USB flash drive instead.
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  7. #7


    Posts : 5,707
    Windows 8.1 Pro


    Basically, it matters on what way you use to create the Windows To Go drive. In Windows 8 Enterprise, it DEMANDS a 32 gig flash drive. This really doesn't matter on the flash drive so much. My guideline is if the flash drive is rated around 70 MBs/sec of read speed, it's decent to use. I use 70 MBs/sec as that's roughly the speed of a hard drive read speed, usually a laptop hard drive. Write speed will matter at shutdowns as that's when Windows writes saved settings onto the flash. But again, if you shutdown a lot, a USB 3.0 flash drive with fast write speeds will matter.

    The other way to go on this, if you try to backdoor it, you can use the WAIK kit (I don't know about WADK kit) and deploy the install.wim of a retail version of Windows 8 using Imagex commands to do so. This way will let you use a 16 gig flash drive, although you should use Windows 8 32 bit as I know for fact that 32 bit will float happy with 16 gigs, as it really only needs about 8 to live. But this method can only work right if you use only ONE PC at a time. Meaning, you can't run over to three PCs with the To Go drive and keep the activation status.

    Also, you CAN use a USB 2.0 drive. That's how I used Windows 8 To Go, a 16 gig Cruzer drive. From my experience, boot time was almost on par to a normal hard drive, visually. It took about 30 seconds to get to Start, but it needed about 10-20 seconds to finish loading. It'll continue to pull of the system files off the flash drive and load it into the RAM as well as the page file on that PC's hard drive. Overall, once it's going, you can use it just fine. Office 2010 worked smoothly, even Photoshop CS6 worked fine. Installing the software takes a LONG time though. Office took about 40 minutes, Photoshop about an hour. Shutdowns took about a minute.

    Another method for this is using a virtual hard drive. I did this with Windows 7, made me a 7 To Go drive for a while. This is a little more foolproof, as what you need to do is just install Windows 8 onto a VM with a .vhd file (using Oracle's VirtualBox) and doing everything on that. Then, using EasyBCD, you can put the vhd file onto the hard drive, create a boot record and entry, and BAM! Windows 8 Pro To Go Ghetto Edition! Keeping activation status on this method is the same I believe as the WAIK method, one PC at a time.


    I almost want to say about using USB 2.0 enclosures with a SSD. Don't. I've tried this, USB 2.0 is a bottleneck in that situation, it's just limited at about 22 MBs/sec. You can actually install Windows 8 onto a USB hard drive though. At least with the WAIK method, I don't know for sure about in Enterprise.

    If you need to use Windows 8 To Go on multiple PCs, and it's not an Enterprise edition, your activation status will be declared not activated. It'll shutdown every 90 minutes.
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  8. #8


    Philadelphia
    Posts : 214
    Windows 8.1 Pro x64


    I ended up ordering one of these, which, by your estimates, should work very well!

    Newegg.com - CORSAIR Voyager GT 32GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive Model CMFVYGT3A-32GB
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  9. #9


    Hafnarfjörður IS
    Posts : 4,376
    Linux Centos 7, W8.1, W7, W2K3 Server W10


    Hi there
    any USB3 drive will do whether a partition on an external USB3 HDD or a USB3 flash drive.

    It will also actually work acceptably on USB2 HDD's as well. USB2 flash drives however aren't recommended - you might have problems doing Windows updates.

    If you install things like OFFICE on a Windows to go system you will need to reactivate office if you boot the windows to go on significantly different hardware. Windows itself is OK (Windows to Go has Enterprise level activation so it's Multiple activation -- no problems).

    Using KMS methods of Office activation works fine if you have access to a KMS server.

    Another idea is to create a Windows 8 image on a VHD -- Windows 8 will boot a VHD. The advantage of booting a VHD is that you can use ANY Windows7 / 8 version. Widows to Go will only work if you create it from Windows 8 Enterprise.

    (Of course Windows to Go is a bit more flexible as it will boot totally independently of the internal "C" drive of the computer you want to use Windows to Go on.)

    @DeaconFrost

    An SSD with a USB3==>SATA adapter (note NOT USB2==>SATA) also works extremely well.

    I'm using an older 64GB SSD for this. Very satisfied.



    Cheers
    jimbo
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  10. #10


    Redmond
    Posts : 651
    Windows 8.1 x64


    Windows To Go: Feature Overview

    If you're going to do Windows To Go with any sort of regularity, I'd recommend the Spyrus Secure Portable Workspace devices as they're hardware encrypted:
    Secure Portable Workplace WTG

    Also note that what you see in the list aren't regular old USB keys, they actually contain SSD controllers and are the equivalent of an SSD in a USB enclosure (with the exception of the Western Digital devices, which are regular 7200RPM drives with special controllers instead - trading speed for storage capacity with 500GB of storage).

    I've been able to coax quite a few USB3 keys to work with WTG, but the best experience I've gotten has been with the SuperTalent and Spyrus devices.
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