In­stall Win­dows on an ex­ter­nal hard drive

Tech Advisor - - Contents -

USB 3.1 can make it al­most as fast as an in­ter­nal drive. Sa­muel Axon shows how

Thanks to the speed of USB 3.1 and USB-C con­nec­tions, it’s now pos­si­ble for an ex­ter­nal hard drive to match the read and write speeds of an in­ter­nal drive. Com­bine that with a pro­lif­er­a­tion of ex­ter­nal SSDs, and for the first time run­ning Win­dows off an ex­ter­nal drive is viable.

Be­fore we start, let’s get the bad news out of the way: Win­dows will refuse to in­stall on an ex­ter­nal drive if it knows that’s what you’re do­ing. But there are a few ways around this, in­clud­ing em­u­la­tion via tools such as VMware. The easi­est work­around is an ap­pli­ca­tion called WinToUSB (

WinToUSB serves the same func­tion as Win­dows To Go, an en­ter­prise-only tool from Mi­crosoft that doesn’t work with most con­sumer ver­sions of Win­dows. It’s in­tended for use with USB sticks, but it will work for other ex­ter­nal drives too.

If you al­ready have a DVD, an im­age file or an in­stal­la­tion USB stick for Win­dows, you’re set on this one. If not, it’s easy to down­load a Win­dows 10 in­staller ISO im­age file di­rectly from Mi­crosoft. Just make sure you pick the im­age for the edi­tion and lan­guage of Win­dows for which you own a li­cense. If you’re just cloning your cur­rent Win­dows in­stal­la­tion, skip this step.

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