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Windows 7: How can I install windows7 onto a USB HDD?

29 May 2010   #1

win 7 ultimate
How can I install windows7 onto a USB HDD?

I recently installed Ubuntu 9 onto a USB HDD and I took out my Windows HDD and put in my old backup HDD and did the install that way now I can either have the linux HDD either plugged into the USB or inside the laptop itself.

I tried to put my Windows HDD into the USB caddy and boot from there and it did not work it got to the splash screen where the four parts of the window comes together then a blue screen of death flashes for a fraction of a second then it restarts the system and it never gets past that point. Is there a way I can get it to work via the USB route? It has nothing to do with the hardware compatibility of USB caddy because my Windows HDD is the original HDD that came with the caddy. I swapped my original drive with that one because it was larger. So is there anyway I can accomplish this without having to reinstall Win7 onto the drive as reinstalling all my software too is a pain in the behind so if that can be avoided then that is what I would like to do.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 May 2010   #2
Microsoft MVP


You can't install Win7 on an external USB device. What blocks it is the USB controller. The same external or flash drive would work if it is plugged via IDE/SATA cable.

MS tries hard to keep this from being possible as otherwise you could carry WIn7 around in your pocket to any machine.

A few claim they have done it but admit it runs horribly slow.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 May 2010   #3

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


You need to put HD back in to your notebook for Win 7 to work.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

29 May 2010   #4


An actively installed Windows 7 will not boot on a USB drive or any type of drive not hot plugged into the motherboard. You can only do the actual install using a penndrive using the ISO image.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 May 2010   #5

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista x64 / 7 X64

It can be done, but only by installing fresh onto the usb drive.

You need a special set of scripts to do it. Unless you are very familiar with the command line and the install process - it is very tricky.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 May 2010   #6

win 7 ultimate

thanks for the help
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 How can I install windows7 onto a USB HDD?

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