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Trying to boot Windows 7 from external hard drive

jhamms66

New Member
I'm currently using a Dell Inspiron 3520 laptop with Windows 8 on it. I have an external hard drive from a Windows 7 desktop. It recognizes the external hdd right away and I can access it but I can't figure out how to boot Windows 7 as the primary. I've tried changing boot order in bios but I've had no luck as it still boots Windows 8 first. Is there a way to use the Windows 7 as the primary drive or could someone teach me about dual booting? Even a way to temporarly turn off the Windows 8 hard drive will work. I just need to access the Windows 7 hard drive without having to navigate through program files to have to open something. Any ideas?
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8
    Computer type
    Laptop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Inspiron 3520
    Browser
    Firefox
    Antivirus
    Avast

jhamms66

New Member
Yeah. It was the sole internal drive for my desktop
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8
    Computer type
    Laptop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Inspiron 3520
    Browser
    Firefox
    Antivirus
    Avast

SIW2

Well-Known Member
Team Member
An external drive?

7 won't boot natively via usb if that is what you are trying.

It is possible ,with a couple of registry changes.

You would also need to add it as a boot menu entry.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    7/8/ubuntu/Linux Deepin
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop

jhamms66

New Member
And how would I go about that?
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8
    Computer type
    Laptop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Inspiron 3520
    Browser
    Firefox
    Antivirus
    Avast

locoloco

New Member
I found how to boot windows 7 on a external hard drive by using a program called PWBoot.
Again, the name is PWBoot.
It took me ages to find a program like this.
All you have to do is install windows Vista or windows 7 by connecting the drive on ata or ide. Then after the installation is over, you boot into windows and install the program PWBoot. From that moment on, your hard drive will be able to boot from a USB. Sweet uh?
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    windows 7

SIW2

Well-Known Member
Team Member
Yes, that makes the couple of reg changes for you.

Phil has been making that for a while.

Haven't looked at it recently - I just do it by hand
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    7/8/ubuntu/Linux Deepin
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
If you use a USB hard drive dock ($30), it will surely work without any third party application. And I would recommend USB 3.0 for faster transfer rate. I have it and it really works. It's actually made so that you won't have to open up your PC to switch hd. It will be recognized by the PC as an internal hd in the same level as C drive. I have the white Nexstar USB 3.0 dock.

Here: hard drive dock - Google Search
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Win 8 (64) : Win 7 (64) : Vista (64) : Android JB 4.2 : iOS 6
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Acer AX Series & HP i-5 2400s
    Screen Resolution
    Main PC - 2x Sony PS3 3D LED Displays + 1x 22" Philips; HTPC - 47" HDTV w/ 17" LCD secondary display
    Hard Drives
    Internal- 1TB on each system; 1x120GB SSD on main PC
    External (network attached)- 1x2TB Seagate backup; 1x1TB ext. storage; 1x500GB,
    Other Info
    http://tinyurl.com/br4uxrk

    http://tinyurl.com/cwj93pj

whs

New Member
VIP Member
Guru
Not sure whether that will ever work. Since the Windows 7 system HDD comes from another PC, then you probably run into driver problems and if you solved those you may get activation problems. So this is not a done deal even if you get it to boot.

Btw: I run my external systems like this - both Windows 8 and a few Linux distros.

Portable OS - Carry your OS on an External Drive - Windows 7 Help Forums
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Vista and Win7
    System Manufacturer/Model
    2xHP, 2xGateway, 1xDell, 1xSony
    Hard Drives
    5 SSDs and 12 HDs

billberry12

Member
Member
If I image internal hd to external hd, can I boot to external hd to copy back to new internal replacement hd
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8.1
    Computer type
    Laptop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Surface Pro 3
    CPU
    Intel I5
    Memory
    4 GB
    Hard Drives
    128 GB SSD
    Browser
    Chrome
    Antivirus
    Windows defender and Malwarebytes
    Other Info
    Ccleaner from time to time. Not sure if this is necessary with 8.1??

whs

New Member
VIP Member
Guru
If I image internal hd to external hd, can I boot to external hd to copy back to new internal replacement hd

If you image your system, you can restore that image to the same system any time. However, you cannot 'boot' an image from an external drive. You have to first restore the image.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Vista and Win7
    System Manufacturer/Model
    2xHP, 2xGateway, 1xDell, 1xSony
    Hard Drives
    5 SSDs and 12 HDs

billberry12

Member
Member
How do restore an image to a new hard drive from an external hardrive? You can't boot to a new empty hd can you?
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8.1
    Computer type
    Laptop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Surface Pro 3
    CPU
    Intel I5
    Memory
    4 GB
    Hard Drives
    128 GB SSD
    Browser
    Chrome
    Antivirus
    Windows defender and Malwarebytes
    Other Info
    Ccleaner from time to time. Not sure if this is necessary with 8.1??

SIW2

Well-Known Member
Team Member
You wouldn't normally boot an image file itself directly.

Usually you boot a wim file which contains the recovery program. You then browse to the image file and apply it to the target partition.

That bootable wim can be on dvd or usb stick, or a hard drive. It can also be on the same drive as the image. So it is possible to do it that way too.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    7/8/ubuntu/Linux Deepin
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop

jimbo45

New Member
VIP Member
Guru
Hi there

Depends on what you used to create the backup image. In the case of say Acronis you can make BOOTABLE media - this means a bootable version of the program will be written to a USB device or a DVD/CD (usually user choice). You the BOOT the program which gives you a graphical system - follow the on screen instructions to restore the backup image to the computers internal HDD.

If you are REPLACING say an HDD on a laptop with an SSD - ensure that the OS is in it's own partition - usually the HDD is LARGER than an SSD - but a typical decent sized windows partition would easily fit into 60 GB -- plenty even for a 120 GB SSD. Use something like GPARTED to re-size the partition if the current one is too big. I'd always keep DATA and the OS+pgms separate.

Create the backup image - write it to another partition on the existing HDD or even to another external HDD. Plug in your new SSD to a USB port via a SATA==>USB connector -- if it's a SAMSUNG SSD you'll probably have one of these connectors thrown in with the drive - but they are cheap enough.

Restore your image to the SSD. Now open Laptop and swap HDD with the SSD -- usually very easy to change a laptop's HDD - even for the most hamfisted "engineer". No tools other than a Philips type screwdriver needed -- take the battery out first though usually.

I use something like Acronis for this but any decent backup program should work.

If you can use Linux then another FREE method would be to boot up the Linux system and run the DD command to copy the old HDD's partitions to the new one -- don't forget the Ms reserved system partition too if it exists -- whether you use Linux DD or an Imaging / Backup program you need to copy (and restore) the system partition as well as "C" if it exists.

Cheers
jimbo
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Linux Centos 7, W8.1, W7, W2K3 Server W10
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Monitor(s) Displays
    1 X LG 40 inch TV
    Hard Drives
    SSD's * 3 (Samsung 840 series) 250 GB
    2 X 3 TB sata
    5 X 1 TB sata
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    0.12 GB/s (120Mb/s)

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