Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums

External drive

  1. #1


    Ohio
    Posts : 473
    Windows 8 Pro

    External drive


    I know there is no such thing as a dumb question, but I have one that might come close. Can Windows 8 be installed on an external drive via a USB cable? I have an external drive that I use for backup. If it would work, I would create a new volume on it and install on that.

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  2. #2


    Posts : 1,851
    8250 x86 + 7 SP1 x86 + Ubuntu 12.04 LTS x86


    I like your opening sentence, but no, it is not close.

    Windows 7 definitely does not allow this. I think people have worked out hacks or whatnot, but since I don't have an external drive, I haven't followed this at all. I can't speak of personal experience.

    So I am guessing it is the same for 8.

    But fafhrd presents us with a very interesting option that might work. It all depends on if imagex plays nicely with your external. I have personally used it and it does work very well, on an internal drive.

    Install as he recommends:

    How to install Windows 8 on machine with less than 1 GB RAM?
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  3. #3


    Posts : 5,360
    7/8/ubuntu/Linux Deepin


    It should work fine.
    That is a standard deployment method - I use it all the time.
    Had an issue with win8 - a problem with the drive, it seems.

    Installed fine to another drive
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  4. #4


    Portsmouth Hants
    Posts : 772
    Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center


    I cannot say if a removable external drive would be acceptable or not. Removable devices, like USB sticks, can be installed with specialized portable versions of Windows. It may be possible to fool Windows into thinking that a USB hard disk is a legitimate device for installation. What is also difficult to say is if the system is installed, will it be portable and usable on other devices?

    If Windows fails in some of its basic checks, which would include inadequate hardware resources, although the install.wim image could be applied to the drive, the sysprep specialize step would probably not be able to finish.

    I have had this happen on a partition of only 10GB (although I know it should physically install in 8GB or less, including swapfiles), but other resources also could have been limiting - this was a piece of 12-year old kit. The installation did not fail gracefully enough to inform me what the problem was.

    I've installed in 15GB no problem, even 64-bit versions. Obviously memory, processor, graphics and other hardware all play their part. If there are no working drivers then the legacy device will fail.
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  5. #5


    Posts : 1,851
    8250 x86 + 7 SP1 x86 + Ubuntu 12.04 LTS x86


    Quote Originally Posted by fafhrd View Post
    What is also difficult to say is if the system is installed, will it be portable and usable on other devices?
    If it actually works to begin with - Then very likely bsod upon first boot on another system and then the next reboot, Windows figures out the devices well enough to get to desktop. Dirty but works (as when people unknowingly do this with their internal HDD from one system and put it in another, thinking it's all gravy.)
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  6. #6


    Ohio
    Posts : 473
    Windows 8 Pro


    I've decided against using the external drive and have installed it on Virtual box. Thanks for your input.
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  7. #7


    Posts : 93
    W2K8S R2 STD, W7 ULTIMATE X64


    Hi,

    Quote Originally Posted by GMan View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by fafhrd View Post
    What is also difficult to say is if the system is installed, will it be portable and usable on other devices?
    If it actually works to begin with - Then very likely bsod upon first boot on another system and then the next reboot, Windows figures out the devices well enough to get to desktop. Dirty but works (as when people unknowingly do this with their internal HDD from one system and put it in another, thinking it's all gravy.)
    It can be done but it a long and winding road involving a particular version of imagex (from a beta version of Vista IIRC), two different WAIKs and some registry tricks resetting the installation so it goes back into HW detection mode every time it's plugged in etc., etc.

    So possible yes, worth it probably not. Oh, that's for W7 BTW. I don't think anyone tried the same box of tricks on W8 yet.

    Cheers,
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  8. #8


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


    Hi there
    I assume you mean can you boot and RUN W8 from an external HDD. (You can INSTALL W8 on any disk you choose but this will have to be normally the systems internal boot disk so you will need to open the machine and connect your HDD after W8 is installed).

    :::: BUT W8 has a great feature -- WINDOWS TO GO which allows exactly what I think you want --boot and RUN from the external device.

    So YOU CAN DO IT --follow the instructions carefully. And ignore the previous post --sorry guy but it doesn't take too long - especially if you are installing to an external HDD rather than a USB stick.

    I think the previous guy living in Belgium has got ONE and TWO on his mind - because of the TWO language syndrome --actually I LIKE working in Belgium and it's BEER HEAVEN too.

    YOU DO NOT NEED TWO WAIKS - the WAIK from W7 is fine to get IMAGEX from.

    Installing on an external HDD is better than a USB stick for many reasons - but it's EXACTLY the same procedure.

    Windows 8 to go - on a USB stick

    Cheers
    jimbo
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  9. #9


    Posts : 93
    W2K8S R2 STD, W7 ULTIMATE X64


    Hi,

    :::: BUT W8 has a great feature -- WINDOWS TO GO which allows exactly what I think you want --boot and RUN from the external device.
    Sorry, Jimbo but I do not think that actually is what he wants.

    This is what Windows to go is about:

    Windows To Go - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Yet what he wants is a W8 installation able to be plugged in any of his computer systems which I assume are not all identical hardware wise...
    IOW, a hardware agnostic install on an external drive. USB is inevitably seen by the system as a removable device (unless you trick it into thinking it is a fixed drive) whereas an external HDD (such as E-sata) is considered as internal by the system.
    Both types are useable but the USB device needs to be seen as fixed drive hence needs some extra trickery.

    Note also that the method described (succinctly and from the top of my head) has been tested using W7 as I mentioned in my previous post.
    While I don't see any reason why it should not work it does come with that particular caveat.

    Cheers,

    P.S. Signing off with a "Cheers" does not turn a Belgian into a beer drinker, does it?
    Last edited by fdegrove; 27 Mar 2012 at 05:27.
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  10. #10


    Germany/Florida
    Posts : 4,514
    Vista and Win7


    I have installed it on an eSata drive and a USB2 and a USB3 stick. On the eSata drive I made a classic installation. On the USB stick I used this procedure. I assume the same procedure can be applied to an external disk. When I get my hands on a spare SSD, I am going to try that in a USB3 enclosure - a HDD is probably too slow (like my USB2 stick).

    The USB3 stick version is real fun and very fast. But you have to get a stick with appr. the same characteristics as the one I describe in my procedure - the access time of that stick is 0.5ms. Boot is 38 seconds and shutdown is 14 seconds. And the operation is very, very fluent.
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