With Windows XP, it was not possible to install it to a USB Hard drive (without diving deep into unsupported terrain). With Windows 7, it looks like VHD Support could solve that.

But is there a supported way to install either Windows Vista or Windows 2008 Server on a USB Hard drive?

  • and can Windows 7 be installed onto a USB drive and move around to any machine (exlcuding the new drivers/hardware found etc..). Or does the desktop need to have a special entry in teh MBR... so u can't move it around anymore? – Pure.Krome May 27 '09 at 7:13
  • I haven't tested, but from Scott Hanselman's article, if it's inside a VHD (which is just an image file), you can just (manually) add it to an existing boot.ini and boot from it. VHD does not work as a primary OS, but that's not my intention. But as said, haven't tested. – Michael Stum May 27 '09 at 7:15
  • And more imporantly, will these operating systems boot from a "removable device", or does a USB connection prevent the system from booting correctly? – kdmurray May 27 '09 at 7:16

It's not possible, from what I know, to install Vista nor 2008 on some USB drive. The best way to use Vista without disturbing your current system would probably be to use a vistualisation tool like VMware or others.


Yes it can. I have a USB drive that I can boot a full Win 7 x64 Enterprise from. Its awfully slow, I wouldn't recommend it at all.

It was actually installed using an eSATA cable but it boots from USB and works. From experience i suspect that I would have bee nable to install via USB, but as eSATA was available at the time I used that instead.

I really wouldn't recommend it though. If you are looking for a portable operating system get a linux Live CD of some form. See - http://www.pendrivelinux.com/

If its trialling Windows on your current system, a second disk/partition dual boot process would be preferable.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.