Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums


Booting and Running Windows 8 from USB drive via GRUB

  1. #1


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

    Booting and Running Windows 8 from USB drive via GRUB


    Hi there
    As Windows to Go is only available for ENTERPRISE versions and booting from a VHD requires there to be an OS already installed on the physical machine I was wondering if we could "Borrow" a trick from Linux.

    Is it possible to install a Mini GRUB boot loader on a partition on an external HDD and on a second partition boot a Windows system.

    Note here -- I want a RUNNING WINDOWS SYSTEM -- not an install / recovery / "Win PE" type system -- but a full Windows system that will work even if there is NO usable INTERNAL HDD drive in the computer.

    Googling shows quite a few ways of either creating an INSTALL disk (HDD) or booting a VHD neither of which are what I want.

    Using GRUB and booting an external HDD in theory should work -- and this should "almost replicate" a Windows to Go system.

    Anybody tried this and got it working.

    (I've had an external USB Linux system with VMware player installed -- that method works but the Windows system is quite slow even on an external USB3 drive -- running a Windows system natively should be a lot better).

    I've actually got a spare SSD which I want to use for this -- I replace a 128 GB drive with a new Samsung 256 GB drive as I got a great bargain on it -- 99 GBP LESS 20% VAT which I got back at customs at the airport.

    I'll use the SATA==>USB3 connector for connecting to the PC.


    (Another possibility might be to get the Linux boot loader to load a Windows VHD from the external drive as well -- but I want the Windows system to work even if there is NO INTERNAL HDD in the computer).

    Cheers
    jimbo

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  2. #2


    Posts : 5,592
    ME, XP,Vista,Win7,Win8,Win8.1
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. #3


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


    Quote Originally Posted by theog View Post
    Hi there
    Thanks for taking the trouble to reply -- always appreciate that even though I might often appear to be cynical -- I'm quite harmless really !!.

    Anyway that method uses vmware player which does work -- however I want to see if I can actually run NATIVE Windows from a USB rather than a VM (booting a VHD from a USB partition is also fine provided it's a native boot from GRUB).

    Cheers
    jimbo
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. #4


    Posts : 22,575
    64-bit Windows 10


    Hello Jimbo,

    You might see if the method used in the tutorial below by Wolfgang may work for you for this.

    Windows 8 To Go - Setup on a USB Flash Drive or USB Disk
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. #5


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


    Quote Originally Posted by Brink View Post
    Hello Jimbo,

    You might see if the method used in the tutorial below by Wolfgang may work for you for this.

    Windows 8 To Go - Setup on a USB Flash Drive or USB Disk

    Hi there
    Thanks
    Worked perfectly. Boots really snappily on external SSD connected to USB3 port.

    Cheers
    jimbo
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  6. #6


    Posts : 22,575
    64-bit Windows 10


    Great news.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  7. #7


    Hi,
    Great! Welcome to the club.
    I have been running Win XP, Win 7, and now Win 8 from USB HDD.
    If your USB greater than 128Gb, may be some day when data getting bigger, you experience same problem with me like what I post last week.

    No worries, just need defrag.

    Cheers.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  8. #8


    Portsmouth Hants
    Posts : 772
    Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center


    So a Windows -To-Go Workspace is not just available for Enterprise, but for Windows 8 Pro too, as it was for the preview versions, as long as the full windows image is applied to the USB drive? Are there no activation problems if the system hardware changes?
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  9. #9


    Posts : 22,575
    64-bit Windows 10


    Quote Originally Posted by fafhrd View Post
    So a Windows -To-Go Workspace is not just available for Enterprise, but for Windows 8 Pro too, as it was for the preview versions, as long as the full windows image is applied to the USB drive? Are there no activation problems if the system hardware changes?

    Well, technically it's only Window 8 Enterprise that you can do "Windows To Go" natively.
    Otherwise, you'll have to do the workaround to create a "Windows To Go" workspace.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  10. #10


    I run Windows from USB but not Windows To Go. I cannot find back the article on internet. I remember I create VM that write directly to physical disc that pointing to USB disc. Install Windows as usual. Boot Windows on VM and tweak registry to load USB driver during "pre-boot". Then it ready to boot Windows from USB. The first start up will found many new hardware because not in VM anymore.

    To install Windows XP on USB is much easier because only need to edit 4 .inf files from installation CD to load usb driver during "boot bus extender".
    Install Windows XP on a USB Flash Drive

    Quote Originally Posted by Brink View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by fafhrd View Post
    So a Windows -To-Go Workspace is not just available for Enterprise, but for Windows 8 Pro too, as it was for the preview versions, as long as the full windows image is applied to the USB drive? Are there no activation problems if the system hardware changes?

    Well, technically it's only Window 8 Enterprise that you can do "Windows To Go" natively.
    Otherwise, you'll have to do the workaround to create a "Windows To Go" workspace.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

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