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Make a Bootable External Hard Drive and Install Windows 7/8

Step 1: Format the Drive
Just place the flash drive in the USB port of your computer. Open command prompt (cmd). You can do that by pressing WINKEY+R, right click on the listed file and click on “Run as administrator“.
Enter the following commands in the same order as I did here:

diskpart
list disk
select disk z (where z is the number corresponding for your USB disk. You have to replace it with the corresponding letter from your own system).
clean
create partition primary
active
format fs=fat32 quick
assign
exit

Diskpart Bootable USB

Please be careful using the select command (so you don’t select and format your hard disk instead)

Diskpart External Hard Disk

If everything goes well, this is how your cmd screen will look like

Step 2: Mount The Windows 8 ISO Image Into A Virtual Drive

If you don’t have a physical optical drive you should mount the image into a virtual drive. You can install and use PowerISO

Step 3: Make The External Hard Disk Bootable

I’m assuming that F is your drive letter with Windows 8 ISO image and G: is the location of your external hard disk (or flash drive) . Open the command prompt screen (as administrator) and type the commands:

F:
cd boot
bootsect.exe /nt60 g:

External Hard Disk Bootable

Also, don’t forget to triple check the target location so you don’t accidentally delete the boot sector of your hard disk

Step 4: Copy The Installer Files

After the above step, don’t close the command prompt (at least not yet). At this moment your new external hard disk or flash drive is bootable but you need to execute one more command in order to transfer the files to your new drive. You have to type the following command line:

xcopy f:\*.* g: /e /f /h

Again replace the drive letters with the ones that apply to you. Alternatively you can copy all the files in the virtual drive to the flash drive or external hard drive by using Windows Explorer, but using XCOPY ensures that system and hidden files are also copied.

Step 5: Boot Off The External Hard Drive or USB Flash Drive

To use and boot from your newly created drive on your netbook or computer, first you have to set your computer you must set it to boot through the USB flash drive. In order to do this shut down your computer, go in the CMOS setup by pressing the “DEL” or “F2″ key when the computer power on, without unplug the newly created external hard drive or USB Flash Drive from the machine. Set the device as the primary boot option, save the changes BIOS and restart. On newer computers you can boot from the device without entering into BIOS by pressing either “ESC”, “F9″ or “F11″ (different key on different manufacturers).

External Hard Drive bootable

Now you can install Windows as usual. Please be aware that if you’ve changed the boot sequence in the BIOS, remember to change it back as it was after copying the files (usually after first automatic reboot).

 

201 Comments

  1. Thanks sir. it helps me a lot.

  2. Is it possible to boot from an external drive that I also use to hold my media files? I have a 1TB external with all my movies/TV shows/music on it, there’s ample room for all the files from my OS, can I install those on it to transfer to my new laptop?

    And will following these steps wipe all the files off my external?

    • 32 gb is the max size of fat32 so just partition the drive into a 32gb bootable partition and the rest can be a non bootable partition with all your files.

    • Yes. go to disk managment and shrink the hhd by 4GB and then when you go to diskpart and select the external drive, type :create partition primary size 4000″ instead of just create partition primary. then type “list partition” and chose the partition you created. then continue with the instructions

      • Hi, I want to do the exact thing you have said. However, why would you remove 4gb from the hdd, when the fat32 is maximum of 32gb? Just need a bit of guidance here. Cheers.

        • Why do you need to create 32gb partition when window takes max 4gb.
          Empty space cannot be used for copying your other files.

  3. Really good article! I have another question: I have a hard drive that I removed from another computer and use it with USB adapter how can I run the computer from the OS inside that additional hard drive?

  4. YOU MORON MOTH…. I just formatted my entire hdd instead of 1 partition and now my entire school projects,family pictures and evenly my digital documents worth 300 GB are gone.And i cannot recover them,the files are too many that they can’t be recovered unless givwn an entire month.Is there any way i get them back ?

    • try testdisk for disk recovery. hope it helps.

      • try hardick up your ass faggot. that was terrible advice, kill yourself

    • There is hope. Google for hard drive recovery software until you find something that works. I haven’t had to do that in ages so I have no idea what’s the best. Try NOT do do a lot of other stuff on your hdd till you recover your stuff. You don’t want to risk having the deleted stuff overwritten again.
      Good luck man. There is hope.

    • Hi dude,

      check this softwares each has a different capability and they can do the job. I have done that before. I recovered my 1TB HDD.

      1- iCare_Data_Recovery_Professional_5_1_Portable
      2- Active@ File Recovery v7.5.1
      3- Active.Partition.Recovery.Professional

      good luck with the HDD.

    • You’re the moron here. Why you just didn’t pay attention to the drives organization? Dumbass

      • Ppl like you shold stay away from computers instead blaming others because their own mistakes
        #NewbieInTown .

        backup and save your info when doing practices, internet mainly.

        Its called common sense of autopreservation, clearly nature skipped your generation :)

        • Take it easy, despite your warning you knew that there will be always someone that would make the mistake. Don’t worry is part of his learning process. I am sure that he won’t do it again. Thank you for your post.

      • To be fair, following these instructions does wipe the entire drive.
        I expected it to create a new partition from the free space I had set aside. Instead it destroyed the existing partitions and all the files on them.
        Luckily I didn’t need the other files on the drive.
        Using disk management is safer because you can see what you are doing.

        HTH.

    • I suggest you retrieve all these delete file from the backup you made before attempting this process. Simple eh!

  5. While these comments make for hilarious reading. If you want to convert the filesystem of a external USB HDD from NTFS to FAT32 without wiping the contents you can do so with the ‘convert’ command.

  6. Excellent article. It helps incredibly, well done!

    Thank you,

  7. Hi

    thanks for this article , i was looking for same.
    i started these steps … as my HDD size was 1TB …so quick formatting with FAT32 option failed.
    then i ran same command like format fs=fat32
    it worked … at present formatting is happening …
    BUT i was thinking that whether FAT32 is correct option for my HDD of 1TB Size or NTFS will be correct option ….

    pl help to know , so that i can reformat my HDD with NTFS if needed , before going to Step 2 onwards

    Thanks
    Rakesh

  8. I was thinking that after same , i will able to install Windows OS 8 in my Bootable USB based 1TB drive …but after last step … when i booted my Laptop from this USB disk …i am getting same error that Windows 8 can not be installed on USB or IEEE1354 based devices …

    appreciate if some one can share solution for same.

    Thanks
    Rakesh

  9. Hi. I have a possibly very silly question but I need to know. Does this only work for installing Windows? Or can I actually use the external hard drive as my booting device for running Windows daily? My laptop’s SSD is kind of fucked up (i’ve tried chkdsk and all that stuff but have not fixed it) and it would be great if I could run Windows fro my external HDD, at least until I can replace my SSD. Thanks.

    • Bump, i wanna do this too

  10. Hello friends.
    I’m facing a big problem.

    I’ve 3 partition in an portable HDD of 500GB (Toshiba leveled with Transcend)

  11. I have an optical drive but you don’t cover how to use it to transfer the Windows 8 ISO

  12. I’ve done all the steps above that you described clearly, I appreciate it, But I didn’t get answer to my 500 G WD External HDD drive and another thing I should say I accorded with an Error in Formating to FAt32 then I put it on NTFS and Everything goes Well, But when I try it to my customer mini Notebook and Booting from my WD there is an Error says:
    File: \Boot\BCD
    Status: 0xc000000f
    Info: An error occurred while attempting to read the boot configuration data.

    Enter= Continue
    or ESC = Exit
    ———————–
    Is anybody knows what is wrong?
    or Any solutions could be help?
    Tnx

  13. This has all gone by no doubt, but I just had a major hardware breakdown, and like a fool, I saved a back-up image everyday. Doesn’t sound foolish – until I further let you know that the image was on the mechanically failed drive on another partition. I scoured the internet for 2 grueling weeks for ways to recover my information. I downloaded every recovery disk I could find. Some programs wouldn’t even acknowlege there was a hard drive connected -some did, but said that the entire drive was an “unallocated” space. To my PC, the disk was just read as a platter of glass. The more I pecked away at the disk, the more it started to “fail” or “pre-fail’ according to the Western Digital Drive Diagnostic disk. The drive actually started “overlapping” and writing over some of the info on it. I disconnected the drive until I could get more time and info on the problem. It all boiled down to an extremely valuable slim-lined ware called TestDisk, which I loaded from the (free) Hiren’s Boot Disk. It found my lost partition, all of my files on it, and I was able to move everything safely to another spot. TestDisk was my hero in this particular instance.

  14. Will this work for Win XP?

  15. thanks for the guide! I reach a point, (when i type “format fs=fat32 quick”)but i get an error message that it’s too big… virtual drive error… something like that! How do i procceed, and when i’m done, how do i refomat my external hard drive so that i can use it again for storage?? Pls help!!!

  16. thanks for the guide! I reach a point, (when i type “format fs=fat32 quick”)but i get an error message that it’s too big… virtual drive error… something like that! How do i procceed, and when i’m done, how do i refomat my external hard drive so that i can use it again for storage?? Pls help!!! Now the external is not showing on my computer… Please advise

    • You need a FAT32 for the boot drive, and FAT32 is limited to 32 GB. The instructions here will format the entire drive, which won’t work.
      But you can use the disk manager to accomplish it.
      Instructions here:
      http://www.istartedsomething.com/20081104/tip-make-your-pdc-2008-usb-hard-drive-a-bootable-windows-7-install-disk/
      In my experience, that approach doesn’t work either.
      But between the two sets of instructions, you should be able to make it work.
      Use the disk manager, instructions on the other page, to create the partition, and the instructions here to create the boot sector and copy files.

      HTH.

  17. my iso doesnt have boot folder

  18. Thank You a lot !!! Krasavchik!:)

  19. I installed a fresh windows8.1 on another laptop using this process… used an external hard disk.
    I did as experiment..
    It was a nice experience.
    Thanks for the tutorial.

  20. Hi
    I think this article is very helpful! the only part I didn’t quite understand was the last part when xcopy-ing information across from the mount to the external drive. Can you explain more please? tried looking at the explorer address at the top and copy-pasting that into CMD but not getting the just of this oO. Guessing you must put it between f:\*.*/g: or after bit confused.

    thanks

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