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Is there a way to install a complete installation of Windows 7 on an external USB disk?

I'm thinking about copying all files from an existing Windows installation, insert it on a booted Windows 7 machine and use BCDboot for the pen drive. Would this work?

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You would have to obviously format the device to NTFS because of the file size restrictions of FAT32. You would also need to set the system to recongize the usb device as bootable device. I would imagine at that point you would need to just install the operating system onto that drive. You might have to have a bootloader already installed to acomplish this. Of course you would need a pretty good size drive 32GB. – Ramhound May 27 '11 at 19:08
up vote 4 down vote accepted

You could possibly use CloneZilla to copy the OS from the HDD to the USB drive and use it from there. You would probably need to run the Windows 7 install disk and run a repair on the USB bootloader.


As stated by Moab in the comments, you may have to use the following tutorials in order to get it working.

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I will try this then post the result here, thanks – Diogo May 27 '11 at 19:18
You will need to run a virtual box to get it to – Moab May 27 '11 at 23:36
Maybe not, – Moab May 27 '11 at 23:57

This method requires a Windows 7 ISO image.

Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool Creates and Makes Bootable DVD Disc or USB Flash/Hard Drive from ISO Image

This method requires a Windows 7 DVD.

How To: Install Windows 7 Or Windows 8 From USB Drive

(I have not actually tried the latter.)

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The question is how to install Windows7 on an external hard drive, not from an external hard drive. – Georg Schölly Jan 28 '12 at 15:46

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