Can I boot a windows computer from a Windows startup drive on USB?

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  1. Posts : 163
    Windows 10
       #1

    Can I boot a windows computer from a Windows startup drive on USB?


    I wonder if there's a way to boot a Windows computer (like you can do with Macs) from an external drive with a bootable Windows, connected through USB or any other connector (for testing purposes).

    Thanks in advance for any help
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  2. Posts : 35,604
    Win 10 Pro (21H2) (2nd PC is 21H2)
       #2

    Yes. I've searched this for you:
    Windows 10 Tutorial Index
    (Worth bookmarking)

    to find
    Create Bootable USB Flash Drive to Install Windows 10

    What can you do with it?
    Boot to Advanced Startup Options in Windows 10
    See Option 5

    And of course you can use a live boot disk with loads of utilities on it and a normal Win 10 environment:
    Win10XPE - Build Your Own Rescue Media
      My Computers


  3. Posts : 4,473
    Windows 10 Pro x64, Various Linux Builds, Networking, Storage, Cybersecurity Specialty.
       #3

    In addition...

    Boot from USB Drive on Windows 10 PC

    I've successfully tried it with external USB 3.0 HDD's loaded with Windows 10.
    The OS will self-configure.

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  4. Posts : 163
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter
       #4

    Thanks for that, I'll came to you when I test it. My idea is to have a bootable Windows 10 USB SSD that I'd use to boot any desktop/laptop for testing purposes. So you say this is possible?
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  5. Posts : 4,473
    Windows 10 Pro x64, Various Linux Builds, Networking, Storage, Cybersecurity Specialty.
       #5

    antonio3535 said:
    Thanks for that, I'll came to you when I test it. My idea is to have a bootable Windows 10 USB SSD that I'd use to boot any desktop/laptop for testing purposes. So you say this is possible?
    Well, you have to know how to do it.

    The process can be very confusing. Sometimes a standard USB Flash drive is much better for a quick test!

    So here we go... Remember to backup your entire system, first!

    If you are using a bare HDD or SSD, a special cable will be needed for DC power and data. Here is one that I have bought recently and works very, very well:

    https://www.amazon.com/UGREEN-Cable-.../dp/B00MYU0EAU

    Here is a simplified overview that I use -

    1) After shutting down, disconnect your boot drive and plug in the bare SSD or HDD instead.
    2) Install Windows 10 and anything else on it, via a prepared USB Flash Drive or DVD.
    3) Reboot, test and then shut down.
    4) Remove the "bare" drive and reconnect your original boot drive.
    5) Boot and test to ensure that your original system is OK.
    6) Shut down.
    7) Connect the newly prepared drive with the special cable (and power) to a free USB 3.0 port.
    8) Disconnect any other USB mass storage devices.
    9) Power on.
    10) Boot while holding down the appropriate function key to selectively boot from the System BIOS - usually F9 or F12.
    11) Select the USB drive to boot with - not the Network or CD/DVD drive.
    12) The newly prepared HDD or SSD should boot slowly, but normally. Be patient. There will be some auto-configuration.
    13) Login. Test functionality and then shut down.
    14) Unplug the DC power adapter cord. Then disconnect the power/data interface from the bare drive.

    That's it.

    One more thing, if you use an SSD or 3.5 inch HDD, supplementary power will be needed from the cable's AC Adapter. If it's a 2.5 inch HDD you won't need it.

    Please post back with your results.

    Hope this helps you.

      My Computer


  6. Posts : 163
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter
       #6

    Thanks for that, seems very useful Excuse me, before I give it a shot:
    - I guess that bootable drive may not always work on other PCs/laptops as they may have very different hardware (unlike macs that are quite similar hardware-wise)?
    - If I use an SSD for that, shouldn't it boot quite fast if I use USB 3.0 or a newer USB-C caddy (on newer computers)?
    - Shouldn't a 2.5 SSD be OK without the DC power adapter?
      My Computer


  7. Posts : 4,473
    Windows 10 Pro x64, Various Linux Builds, Networking, Storage, Cybersecurity Specialty.
       #7

    antonio3535 said:
    Thanks for that, seems very useful Excuse me, before I give it a shot:
    - I guess that bootable drive may not always work on other PCs/laptops as they may have very different hardware (unlike macs that are quite similar hardware-wise)?
    - If I use an SSD for that, shouldn't it boot quite fast if I use USB 3.0 or a newer USB-C caddy (on newer computers)?
    - Shouldn't a 2.5 SSD be OK without the DC power adapter?
    Hi again -

    For your first question - It depends. Windows 10 might have the drivers it needs to achieve minimal function.
    For your second question - Faster than a USB based HDD, yes, but nowhere as fast as the internal interface SATA connection. It is very technical.
    For your third question - It should, but the DC adapter comes with it, just in case. The USB 3.0 port has enough power, but you are using a special interface with it.

    I wish that I could be more definitive - again, it should work, but there are always exceptions, lol.
    I never tried the SSD without the AC adapter - I'll need to test it to be sure.

    Hope this helps!
      My Computer


  8. Posts : 163
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter
       #8

    I'll get back to you when I find the time to test it. Super Thanks!
      My Computer


  9. Posts : 17,371
    Windows 11 Pro
       #9

    An SSD in a USB enclosure or on a SATA to USB adapter should never need an external power supply to run it. If you are talking about wanting a portable SSD to connect to multiple computers, then you want an enclosure, not a USB adapter cable:
    https://www.amazon.com/UGREEN-Enclos...tronics&sr=1-4

    Also if you want the SSD to be universally bootable in both legacy BIOS and UEFI computers, then you want the SSD partitioned as MBR with a FAT32 system partition marked as active followed by the NTFS C: drive partition.
      My Computer


  10. Posts : 245
    W10 Home Version 21H1 Build 19043.1055
       #10
      My Computers


 

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