What's a recommended USB drive for a dedicated Windows 10 boot device?

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  1. cytherian's Avatar
    Posts : 317
    Windows 10 v. 20H2, Build 19042.867
       #1

    What's a recommended USB drive for a dedicated Windows 10 boot device?


    Given how USB drives have come down so far in price these days, I'm wanting to be proactive and have a Windows 10 bootable USB drive on hand in case of issues. Given the total size of Windows 10, what's the minimum recommended USB GB capacity? And are there any other specifications to be mindful of? Thanks!

    P.S. I have 2 Windows 10 laptops, both of which are now running 20H2.
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  2. NavyLCDR's Avatar
    Posts : 15,515
    Windows 10 Pro
       #2

    What exactly do you mean by "Windows 10 bootable USB drive"? Do you mean a Windows 10 installation USB flash drive, or do you mean a full-blown installation of the Windows 10 OS on a USB drive?
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  3. Berton's Avatar
    Posts : 10,525
    Win10 Pro Versions 2004 and 2009/20H2, Win10 Pro IP_Dev, Win10 Home 1909
       #3

    cytherian said:
    Given how USB drives have come down so far in price these days, I'm wanting to be proactive and have a Windows 10 bootable USB drive on hand in case of issues. Given the total size of Windows 10, what's the minimum recommended USB RAM capacity? And are there any other specifications to be mindful of? Thanks!

    P.S. I have 2 Windows 10 laptops, both of which are now running 20H2.
    USB drives aren't RAM but storage, RAM is the module/s plugged into the motherboard in the computer. The terms/description of the units of both are the same, bits, Bytes, KiloBytes, MegaBytes, GigaBytes, etc.

    An 8GB USB Thumb drive is sufficient but 16GB or 32GB will suffice, I use 16GB. The downside or rather limit is the drive will be formatted as FAT32 by the MCT/Media Creation Tool process due to the Windows limit of 32GB. FAT32 also has a limit of a bit less than 4GB single file size.
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  4. Paul Black's Avatar
    Posts : 12,191
    Win 10 Pro 64-bit v1909 - Build 18363 Custom ISO Install
       #4

    Hello @cytherian,

    cytherian said:
    . . . are there any other specifications to be mindful of?

    You could go one step further on this and create a Bootable USB that ALSO has ALL your installed Software .exe files, CURRENT Device Drivers etc, ALL in one place with easy access. I have put this together which you might find interesting . . .

     Ventoy


    About Ventoy:

    Ventoy is an open source tool to create a bootable USB drive for ISO/WIM/IMG/VHD(x)/EFI files.

    With Ventoy, you don't need to format the disk over and over, you just need to copy the ISO/WIM/IMG/VHD(x)/EFI files to the USB drive and boot them directly. You can copy many files at a time and Ventoy will give you a boot menu to select them.

    Most types of OS are supported [ Windows/WinPE/Linux/Unix/VMware/Xen... ], including, x86 Legacy BIOS, IA32 UEFI, x86_64 UEFI, ARM64 UEFI and MIPS64EL UEFI.

    Basically, depending on the size of the USB, you can have ALL your Bootable ISO's on the USB. Additionally, you can also have Portable Apps, Tools, Utilities, Folders, and Files, ALL on the Non-Bootable Partition of the USB.

    > Ventoy - Main Page
    > Ventoy - Screenshots
    > Ventoy - Download Page

    Also, @EdTittel, a Windows Insider MVP member, wrote this in his blog . . .

    > TOP 3 2020 WINDOWS 10 UTILITIES

    I have created a USB using Ventoy and find it an invaluable resource. It is probably the best thing that has ever happened to Bootable Media!

    I hope this helps.
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  5. cytherian's Avatar
    Posts : 317
    Windows 10 v. 20H2, Build 19042.867
    Thread Starter
       #5

    NavyLCDR said:
    What exactly do you mean by "Windows 10 bootable USB drive"? Do you mean a Windows 10 installation USB flash drive, or do you mean a full-blown installation of the Windows 10 OS on a USB drive?
    Sorry for not being more specific.
    Ideally I'd like to have a full Windows 10 installation, but I expect that would require a separate full license as OEM is for only 1 computer at a time. So an installation USB drive would be the intent.
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  6. Paul Black's Avatar
    Posts : 12,191
    Win 10 Pro 64-bit v1909 - Build 18363 Custom ISO Install
       #6

    Hello @cytherian,

    cytherian said:
    Sorry for not being more specific.

    Ideally I'd like to have a full Windows 10 installation, but I expect that would require a separate full license as OEM is for only 1 computer at a time. So an installation USB drive would be the intent.

    So are you saying that you want a Bootable Win 10 PE?
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  7. cytherian's Avatar
    Posts : 317
    Windows 10 v. 20H2, Build 19042.867
    Thread Starter
       #7

    Berton said:
    USB drives aren't RAM but storage, RAM is the module/s plugged into the motherboard in the computer. The terms/description of the units of both are the same, bits, Bytes, KiloBytes, MegaBytes, GigaBytes, etc.
    An 8GB USB Thumb drive is sufficient but 16GB or 32GB will suffice, I use 16GB. The downside or rather limit is the drive will be formatted as FAT32 by the MCT/Media Creation Tool process due to the Windows limit of 32GB. FAT32 also has a limit of a bit less than 4GB single file size.
    Ugh, I need to be whacked up the backside of my head for that one. I have a CS background, mind you. Yeah, I meant to type "GB" (fixed).
    Amazon occasionally has amazing deals, sometimes as low as $4 for 16GB. Might just wait to snap up one from a reputable brand.
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  8. Berton's Avatar
    Posts : 10,525
    Win10 Pro Versions 2004 and 2009/20H2, Win10 Pro IP_Dev, Win10 Home 1909
       #8

    cytherian said:
    Sorry for not being more specific.
    Ideally I'd like to have a full Windows 10 installation, but I expect that would require a separate full license as OEM is for only 1 computer at a time. So an installation USB drive would be the intent.
    Have to say it, the OEM or System Builder version of Windows is only for the computer it comes with or is first installed on.
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  9. cytherian's Avatar
    Posts : 317
    Windows 10 v. 20H2, Build 19042.867
    Thread Starter
       #9

    Paul Black said:
    Hello @cytherian,
    You could go one step further on this and create a Bootable USB that ALSO has ALL your installed Software .exe files, CURRENT Device Drivers etc, ALL in one place with easy access. I have put this together which you might find interesting . . .
     Ventoy

    Basically, depending on the size of the USB, you can have ALL your Bootable ISO's on the USB. Additionally, you can also have Portable Apps, Tools, Utilities, Folders, and Files, ALL on the Non-Bootable Partition of the USB.
    > Ventoy - Main Page
    > Ventoy - Screenshots
    > Ventoy - Download Page
    Also, @EdTittel, a Windows Insider MVP member, wrote this in his blog . . .
    > TOP 3 2020 WINDOWS 10 UTILITIES
    I have created a USB using Ventoy and find it an invaluable resource. It is probably the best thing that has ever happened to Bootable Media!
    I hope this helps.
    Thanks, Paul! This is great. Seems I could pick up just a decent quality 16GB from a good brand on sale. Given how cheap USB flash drives have gotten, makes so much sense to do this. Even going 64GB... for just $11.50? Amazing.
    Last edited by cytherian; 2 Weeks Ago at 11:15.
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  10. Paul Black's Avatar
    Posts : 12,191
    Win 10 Pro 64-bit v1909 - Build 18363 Custom ISO Install
       #10

    Hello @cytherian,

    cytherian said:
    Thanks, Paul! This is great.

    You are VERY welcome.

    In response to an earlier question about Licenses, this might help clarify things . . .

     License Types and Rules

    MS offers Win 10 Licenses in many channels governed by different rules, but for most users, you can only acquire a License through the OEM [ Original Equipment Manufacturer ] or Retail channel.

    An OEM License refers to the License that a manufacturer installs on new devices. If this is your case, the Product Key is NOT transferable, and you can NOT use it to Activate another installation [ unless you are re-activating a new installation on the same computer ].

    A Retail License refers to the License that you acquire when purchasing a copy of Win 10 from your local store or an online retailer [ such as from MS or Amazon for example ]. If you have a Win 10 Retail License, you CAN transfer the Product Key to another computer, as long as you DEACTIVATE the Product Key on the other computer.

    A Volume License is designed for large Businesses, Education, and Government. Usually, a Volume License allows organizations to use one master Product Key to Activate ANY installation of Win 10. Although you can use this License multiple times on different computers, you can NOT transfer it with the device when the system ownership changes, and you are NOT allowed to use the License to Activate devices that are NOT part of the Organization.



    I hope this helps.
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