Install Windows TO a bootable USB drive?

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by 7on, Jan 22, 2015.

  1. 7on macrumors 601

    7on

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2003
    Location:
    Dress Rosa
    #1
    Is it possible to boot Windows 8 from a USB drive? Early 2013 MBA 11". Last I checked Windows couldn't, but that was pre 7 research.
     
  2. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2011
    Location:
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    #2
    Yes, you can:

    Connect external drive to Windows VM. You must have a Windows VM in VMware/Parallels/VBox, or a Windows PC. Any existing Windows environment will do.

    What you need:
    install.wim file (obtain this from your Windows ISO)

    Open elevated cmd.exe (run as admin)

    Note: All commands aren't case sensitive, including pathway to files.

    Type diskpart
    Type list disk
    Take note of the disk you want to select
    Type select disk 1 (if your disk is Disk 1)
    Type clean
    Type convert gpt
    Type create partition EFI size=100
    Type format quick fs=fat32 label=EFI
    Type assign letter=S
    Type create partition primary
    Type format fs=ntfs quick label=W2G (or any other name you wish for label)
    Type assign letter=E
    Type exit

    Open up File Explorer. In your C drive, create a new folder named WIN2GO.
    Put the install.wim file in this folder

    Back in cmd.exe:
    Type dism /apply-image /imagefile:C:\WIN2GO\install.wim /index:1 /applydir:E:\ (this process will take quite a while)
    Type E:\Windows\System32\bcdboot E:\Windows /s S: /f UEFI

    Restart your entire Mac. After the chime, hold down Option and when prompted to select your boot drive, select EFI Boot.

    Proceed installation normally.

    After installation, install Boot Camp drivers. Feel free to trash the VM once you're done too.

    For best results, use USB 3/Thunderbolt. If you don't have USB 3, use Thunderbolt. If you have neither, stick back to the internal drive :)
     
  3. starbug macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2015
    #3
    Can it be done with USB 2.0? (I have iMac mid 2011 which has no usb 3.0 support)
     
  4. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2011
    Location:
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    #4
    Yes, but it'll be awfully slow to the point of unusable depending on your needs.

    So you'll be better off with using:

    1. Boot Camp
    2. Parallels/VMware
     
  5. starbug macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2015
    #5
    Thanks for the quick answer! I'll keep that in mind. Currently I do have bootcamp windows installed, but just wanted to play around with the usb version to compare those two in terms of performance (I'm not a heavy windows user so maybe they will be usable enough).

    ----------

    Oh, sorry, I forgot :eek:, a followup question. Could this be done with usb stick, not just usb drive?
     
  6. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2011
    Location:
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    #6
    Yes, but not recommended. A USB stick uses cheap NAND (unless it's something like a Kingston HyperX) and will be far slower than a USB 3 HDD.
     
  7. starbug macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2015
    #7
    That answers it. Thanks yjchua95 :).
     
  8. biohead macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2010
    Location:
    West Drayton, UK
    #8
    It's not cheap, but if you have a thunderbolt adapter to hand that will also do the trick on Pre-USB3 Macs (that have TB).
     
  9. starbug macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2015
    #9
    That's a good find biohead! But $80 is a bit too much money - just to try something out ;). It's a valid option for someone that is resolved to boot windows from a usb stick or disk.
     

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