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


whs

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Windows 8 To Go - Setup on a USB Flash Drive or USB Disk
This tutorial will show you how to manually setup Windows 8 To Go from any Windows 7 or Windows 8 to be able to install and run Windows 8 from a USB flash drive or external USB disk.
Published by whs
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ByLine
How to Setup "Windows 8 To Go" on a USB Flash Drive or USB Disk in any Windows 7 and Windows 8
Synopsis
This tutorial will show you how to manually setup Windows 8 To Go from any Windows 7 or Windows 8 to be able to install and run Windows 8 from a USB flash drive or external USB disk.
How to Setup "Windows 8 To Go" on a USB Flash Drive or USB Disk in any Windows 7 and Windows 8

information   Information
This tutorial will show you how to manually setup Windows 8 To Go from any Windows 7 or Windows 8 (except Windows 8 RT) to be able to install and run Windows 8 from a USB flash drive or external USB disk. The procedure for the USB stick is discussed in Chapter A, the procedure for the USB attached disk is shown in Chapter B.

You should expect the whole process to take about 3 hours elapsed time if you do not have the WAIK on your system and about 1 hour if the WAIK is installed on your system.

If you install on a stick, it is very important to choose a fast USB stick of at least 16GB size. For the USB attached disk it is preferable to use a USB3 attachment, but USB2 should also work. In addition, you need a program to create a virtual CD and the Windows 8 .iso. The rest is done in Command Prompt.

For more information and details about Windows To Go workspaces, see: Windows To Go: Feature Overview

Note   Note
Those of you who have an Enterprise edition of Windows 8, you can also explore this option which is built into the Enterprise edition.

How to Create a "Windows To Go" Workspace on a USB Flash Drive in Windows 8 Enterprise

Tip   Tip
It is highly recommended to use a USB 3.0 flash drive or disk. Otherwise it will run like a snail from it.






Chapter A - Installation on a stick


Step 1 - Check the speed of your USB stick


To measure the speed of your stick I recommend Atto Disk Benchmark. It will produce a benchmark result like this picture.

2012-03-28_1947.png


It is the example of a 32GB USB2 stick that is not very fast. Especially the 4K read/write speeds are pretty slow. It is important to focus on the 4K size because that is the blocksize that the system uses most of the time. The large blocksizes are unimportant.

Loading the system (appr. 600MB to 1GB) at boot time will take over 3 minutes at a read speed of 4.7MB/sec. But, since there are also other activities going on at this time, the boot is even longer.A stick with characteristics like this one is not recommended.


2012-03-28_1951.png


This is a USB3 stick which runs Windows 8 fluently. The initial system setup still takes a bit more time than on a fast disk, but it is not really out of the ordinary.

On this stick I have loaded the 64bit Windows 8 and I am very pleased with both the boot time and the execution of programs and system facilities.


Step 2 - Download the WAIK and extract the imagex file

If you do not have the WAIK (Windows Automated Installation Kit) on your system, then you have to download from this Microsoft site. This will be a bit lengthy because the WAIK is 1.7GB - figure a 2-hour download.

When you are done downloading the KB3AIK_EN.iso file, mount this .iso, open and run the StartCD.exe file to install WAIK on your system.

WAIK.jpg

Then you have to copy the imagex.exe. You find that in C:\Program Files\Windows AIK\Tools. There is a 32bit version and a 64bit version.


2012-03-28_1953.png


You choose 32bit when you install a 32bit version of Windows 8 on your stick - 64bit when you install the 64bit version. Copy the one that corresponds to your Windows 8 .iso to the desktop. You can copy it to any other folder, but then you have to change the path in the installation command that we will run later in Command Prompt.

I have tried both the 32bit version (on the slow USB2 stick) and the 64bit version (on the fast USB3 stick). Both work as far as I can tell although there is a significant difference in performance.


Step 3 - Mount the Win8 .iso in a virtual BD ROM

We first have to create a virtual BD ROM with theVirtual Clone Drive Program. Download, install and run this program. It is very simple. When you start the program, you get this window. Just click OK and you are done.

You then go to Computer and you find your BD ROM.

Note: If you are working in Windows 8, you can mount the .iso directly from File Explorer. Just right click on the .iso and you will find a mount option. See: ISO Images - Mount or Unmount



2012-03-28_1955.png


To mount the .iso in the BD ROM, follow the instructions in the next picture. Make sure you remember the drive letter of the BD ROM (in my case 'H:') because you will need that later.


2012-03-28_1959.png




Step 4 - Prepare your USB stick

We now have to define a primary active partition on the USB stick. For that we open an elevated Command Prompt (run as administrator). Type or paste each of the following commands (one by one) and hit Enter after each command.

Diskpart
List disk
Select disk n
(where n is the number that was given for your stick in List disk)
Clean
Create partition primary
Format fs=ntfs quick
Assign
Active
Exit


Your stick is now ready for the installation of Windows 8.


Step 5 - Install Windows 8 on the stick

This is very easy now with a command in Command Prompt. It may take a little while to transfer the whole system, so be patient. The Command is:

"C:\Users\Your Name\Desktop\imagex.exe" /apply H:\sources\install.wim 1 F:\

Your Name is the name of your system. H: is the letter of my BD ROM (step 3). If your BD ROM has another letter, you have to change that accordingly. F: is the drive letter of my stick (step 4). Here you also have to replace it if your stick is on another letter.

As last step you have to run a command to install the boot files. If you are installing on a Windows 7 system, use this command. You have to be aware that this installs a Win7 BCD which works but is slower than the Win8 UEFI BCD.

bcdboot F:\windows /s F:

If you are installing on a Windows 8 system, use this command below. This is the preferred BCD because it is faster for boot and shutdown. You can rerun this command in a Win8 system even if you already installed the Win7 BCD in a Win7 system. It will 'upgrade' the BCD to the Win8 (UEFI) level.

bcdboot F:\windows /s F: /f ALL

Here again F: is the letter for my stick which you may have to adjust.


Step 6 - Run Windows 8 from your USB stick

You are done with the installation and can now run Windows 8 off your stick. For that you have to change the boot sequence in the BIOS pointing at the USB stick as first boot device.

I run the stick version on my laptop and have made the USB #1 in the boot sequence. That way it loads Windows 8 from the stick when the stick is plugged in and Windows 7 from the SSD when there is no Windows 8 stick.

As I said earlier, a USB stick is no SSD - although the technology is similar. So be patient, especially with the initial setup where the system has to do a lot of write operations which are slow on a stick. But once the system is in full swing, it is quite some fun.

Warning: In Windows 7, I usually keep my bootmgr on the C: partition. With that setup I had some problems running Windows 8 from the stick. Each time it would corrupt my bootmgr. I then created a separate 400MB partition and moved the bootmgr there. That seems to cure the problem.



Chapter B - Installation on a USB attached disk


The procedure is very similar to what I described for the USB stick with a few exceptions.

Step 1 - Check the speed of the USB attached disk

This is the HDD I run in a USB3 open enclosure. It is a 5400RPM disk that I had recovered from my laptop when I installed the SSD.

The R/W speeds at the 4K blocksize are very similar to my USB3 stick. The R/W speed at the bigger blocksizes is slower because the disk can only spin so fast.

Performance wise it felt slower than the performance on the USB3 stick but was still very acceptable.


2012-03-28_2002.png



Step 2 - Download the WAIK and extract the imagex file

This step is exactly the same as described for the stick.

Step 3 - Mount the Win8 .iso in a virtual BD ROM

This step is exactly the same as described for the stick. Make sure you apply the correct device letters for the BD ROM and the HDD.

Step 4 - Prepare your USB disk

Here I went a different route. I used Partition Wizardon my Windows 7 system to define a primary active partition on the HDD. That is easier than working with Command Prompt on a multi partition disk.

Note: There have been reports of problems when using Partition Wizard - although I did not encounter any problems myself. The report was that the final system did not boot. In such a case you might want to go back and use Command Prompt as the safer method.

Step 5 - Install Windows 8 on the disk

That is again the same procedure as for the stick. I did the installation step on my Windows 7 system but copied the BCD on my Windows 8 in Virtual Box.

Step 6 - Run Windows 8 from your USB disk

Change the boot sequence in the BIOS to boot from USB and off you go. The setup of Windows 8 took appr. 20 minutes (in the USB3 enclosure). During that setup, there is one reboot where you have to change the boot sequence again - else the system will boot into the first boot device it finds which is probably your default OS. When that was done, operation was as one would expect from a slow HDD.

I then tried it on my desktop in an eSata enclosure. The system first made some automatic adjustments for the different hardware. Then it ran flawlessly. The performance was about the same as from the USB3 enclosure. But both are slower than my USB3 stick.

If you have a USB disk with 20 to 25GB of free space lying around, it is certainly an alternative to run the Windows 8 CP from that. If nothing else, it is a lot of fun making the installation and seeing that it works.



 
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A Guy

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#2
Very good Wolfgang :thumbsup:

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Quality - nice Wolfgang. Now I know why we don't see you at SF much these days.....:geek:
 

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Quality - nice Wolfgang. Now I know why we don't see you at SF much these days.....:geek:
Yeah, that and some other chores. Plus I had visitors at the house. And recently there were not really very many topics in SF that I could deal with. All these BSOD threads I do not touch.
 

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Hopachi

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#5
I found the tutorial.

Very good, just like your pdf version.

Thanks
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whs

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#6
I found the tutorial.

Very good, just like your pdf version.

Thanks
Hopachi
Yeah, except in Word I have more formatting options. Was a bit lengthy to place it here - especially the sizing of the pictures. Either they were too large and crushed the whole page or they were too small or too fuzzy and hard to read. I hope I found the right balance.
 

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whs

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#7
If anybody has followed the tut and setup a stick or USB disk with Windows 8, I would appreciate a short experience report. That may be interesting for future users - and of course for me.
 

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IownAmoneyPit

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#8
whs when I get to step 5 and using an elevated command prompt entering the command, C:\Users\Your Name \Desktop\imagex.exe /apply H:\sources\install.wim 1 F:\ and substituting where necessary I receive an error shown in snip below.

Capture.JPG

H is mounted Win 8 64 bit ISO and G is the letter of my 16 GB USB drive.

The USB drive was prepared for use in step 4 and the extracted imagex.exe placed on the desktop from C:\Program Files\Windows AIK\Tools\amd64.

im.JPG
 

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Brink

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#9
Hello IownAmoneyPit,

It's because your user name has a space in it. Placing that path in the command within quotes like below should work. :)

"C:\Users\I Ownam\Desktop\imagex.exe" /apply H:\sources\install.wim 1 G:\
 

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IownAmoneyPit

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#10
Hello IownAmoneyPit,

It's because your user name has a space in it. Placing that path in the command within quotes like below should work. :)

"C:\Users\I Ownam\Desktop\imagex.exe" /apply H:\sources\install.wim 1 G:\
Thanks Brink somehow I overlooked the quotation marks even though they were there all along, tried just about every other variation though and knew I had made a simple mistake.

Only 1 more command and I'm good to go on windows 8 USB style.

EDIT: A big thanks whs I am now up and running on an 16 GB USB 2.0 stick {painfully slowww install & start-up) It kept looping at the login screen even after a couple of restarts but I am posting this from the USB. Also been reading your other thread "Windows 8 to go - on a USB stick" which explains why windows update [DEL]or activation [/DEL]not working. Too chicken to try the workaround.
 
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whs

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#11
Hello IownAmoneyPit,

It's because your user name has a space in it. Placing that path in the command within quotes like below should work. :)

"C:\Users\I Ownam\Desktop\imagex.exe" /apply H:\sources\install.wim 1 G:\
Thanks Brink somehow I overlooked the quotation marks even though they were there all along, tried just about every other variation though and knew I had made a simple mistake.

Only 1 more command and I'm good to go on windows 8 USB style.

EDIT: A big thanks whs I am now up and running on an 16 GB USB 2.0 stick {painfully slowww install & start-up) It kept looping at the login screen even after a couple of restarts but I am posting this from the USB. Also been reading your other thread "Windows 8 to go - on a USB stick" which explains why windows update [DEL]or activation [/DEL]not working. Too chicken to try the workaround.
Could you run your 16GB stick thru Atto. I would be interested to know how fast it is. How does it compare to my slow USB2 stick and my fast USB3 stick shown in the tutorial.
 

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Brink

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#12
Hello IownAmoneyPit,

It's because your user name has a space in it. Placing that path in the command within quotes like below should work. :)

"C:\Users\I Ownam\Desktop\imagex.exe" /apply H:\sources\install.wim 1 G:\
Thanks Brink somehow I overlooked the quotation marks even though they were there all along, tried just about every other variation though and knew I had made a simple mistake.
You're welcome. I'm happy to hear that you got it. :)
 

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IownAmoneyPit

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#13
Could you run your 16GB stick thru Atto. I would be interested to know how fast it is. How does it compare to my slow USB2 stick and my fast USB3 stick shown in the tutorial.
whs the USB stick I am using is an Verbatim 16GB Store 'n' Go® USB 2.0 Drive.

Atto 3.jpg
Test 1


Atto test 2.jpg
Test 2
 

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whs

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#14
Thanks for posting the measurements. That is better than my USB2 stick but still not a barnstormer. I can imagine that the OS setup was slow. My USB2 was painfully slow, but the USB3 stick is actually faster than the HDD I used for comparison.
 

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jimbo45

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#15
Thanks for posting the measurements. That is better than my USB2 stick but still not a barnstormer. I can imagine that the OS setup was slow. My USB2 was painfully slow, but the USB3 stick is actually faster than the HDD I used for comparison.
Hi there
I did mine with one or two decent LAPTOP HDD's that I'd removed from laptops that I'd replaced with SSD's.

Most of the decent 320 / 500 GB laptop drives are self powered and have a lot of better performance than the standard usb external 5400 GB "Clonkers".

The Samsung 320 GB laptop drive I'm using is fast enough also to load a W2K3 VM from HYPER-5 and have 3 or 4 people logged on to it !!!.

The Host is a decent size of course so not much I/O on the VM.

What would be the best IMO is an SSD with a USB3 interface and a large internal cache.

Cheers
jimbo
 

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    SSD's * 3 (Samsung 840 series) 250 GB
    2 X 3 TB sata
    5 X 1 TB sata
    Internet Speed
    0.12 GB/s (120Mb/s)
Posts
1,308
#16
Jimbo what we need is more case like the Antec DF series, with 2.5" hot swap bay , but don't leave it unattended, lol ( they have to work on a lock mechanism )

 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8 enterprise x64
    System Manufacturer/Model Number
    Pc-Quebec / Area 66
    CPU
    i7-3960X Extreme Edition
    Motherboard
    Rampage IV Extreme
    Memory
    Gskill 4x4 GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    4 x HD 7970
    Sound Card
    onboard
    Screen Resolution
    2560*1600
    Hard Drives
    C:\Intel series 520 SSD , 250 GB
    D:\ WD 750 black with Intel 40gb SSD cache Intel RST
    E:\ WD 2TB Black
    PSU
    Corsair AX 1200
    Case
    TT Mozart TX
    Cooling
    Water Cooled
    Keyboard
    Logitech G-15
    Other Info
    Windows 8 VM is install on his own SSD.
#18
This worked quite well on an e-sata for me-thank you.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 7 Ultimate x64 & WCP x64
    CPU
    Intel Core2Duo 6600
    Motherboard
    Intel DQ35JO mobo
    Memory
    4 Gb DDR2
    Graphics Card(s)
    Nvidia 9400GT 512
    Sound Card
    Emu 1212m
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Neovo F-419
    Screen Resolution
    1280x1024
    Hard Drives
    Sata-
    2 Seagate ST31500341AS
    1 Western Digital WD15EARS-00Z5B1
    eSata-
    1-Western Digital 10EACS
    PSU
    iMicro 500w
    Case
    Generic
    Cooling
    Generic
    Keyboard
    Micro$oft
    Mouse
    Logitech Track-Ball
    Internet Speed
    1 mbs
    Other Info
    I built this about five years ago....I used to have a "testing" system but had to sell it

jimbo45

New Member
VIP Member
Guru
Hafnarfjörður IS

Posts
4,373
#19
Hi there

Great Tutorial -- but can you alter one little piece in it.

W8 can mount an .ISO file directly via Windows explorer -- either just double click on it or right mouse (context ==> mount).
No need for Virtual drive software. Saves using Daemon tools or other 3rd party stuff for this.

When you've finished with the device just use the Standard EJECT (right mouse (context ==>eject).

(I assume you are running this from a W8 OS. If you are using W7 and running the bcdboot command to create the W8 boot from a "mounted" W8 install disk then you still need the Virtual mounter -- but it's much easier to create the Win to go from within a running W8 system).

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
    Internet Speed
    0.12 GB/s (120Mb/s)

jimbo45

New Member
VIP Member
Guru
Hafnarfjörður IS

Posts
4,373
#20

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
    Internet Speed
    0.12 GB/s (120Mb/s)