How to boot from external USB HDD

Posted on 2009-12-25
Last Modified: 2012-05-08
I would like to be able to boot  from a USB external hard drive running Vista service pack two.

I have installed in an external USB 2.0  enclosure a hard drive that was in my notebook computer that was running Vista service pack two. When I connected this external hard drive to my notebook and tried to boot from it using my BIOS capable boot from USB hard drive  capability I was unable to boot to this external HDD.

My current operating system on the notebook is Windows 7 ultimate version.

Could someone please tell me what I need to do in order to get the external hard drive to boot into the Vista operating system.

Thanks in advance
Question by:Oxen_Schwantz
    LVL 4

    Assisted Solution

    LVL 3

    Accepted Solution

    These two prerequistes must be for filled

    1. BIOS is set to boot from a USB, this is typical on most modern mainboards. Most people get this step ok...

    2. Your USB must be formatted to be bootable which is not default by most USB manufactures.
    The webpage below gives instructions on how to make a bootable USB with command prompt, setting the parition as an active bootable partition
    LVL 19

    Assisted Solution

    Windows officially doesn't support installing to/running from a removable drive. You can't run a full Windows installation from a removable drive.

    The closest you can get is putting a "LiveCD" or "WinPE" version of Windows on an external drive, something like BartPE or Winbuilder. However, these are intended as "lite" or "rescue" versions of Windows, and thus don't have all the features of a full Windows installation.

    Someone did figure out how to get an install of XP to boot from a removable drive, but it required extensive modifications of the XP installation disc:

    I don't know of any similar method for Vista though.

    The simplest way to dual-boot between two versions of Windows is to install them on separate partitions on the same internal drive. You may be able to clone the Vista install onto a second partition on the internal drive, provided you have enough space. Be sure to backup any important data before making changes to your harddrives.

    Author Comment

    After having searched the web for a simple solution I came across this sweet little program that solved my problem. WORKED A CHARM!!!

    Have you ever tried to boot Vista from USB? Usbtuner does all for you! Microsoft doesnt support that functionality. From now on use e.g. your company computer/laptop at home without any risk! You can install what you want!!! Install Windows to an internal drive, run Usbtuner and connect drive to an external usb cable and it will no longer show you a bluescreen.

    The result is a very fast and optimized disk access even to the external drive!
    Download Now! Trial version analyses if your system is ready for USB boot
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