I recently upgraded my main development machine to Windows 7. This involved wiping out my primary boot drive (Windows XP 64-bit) and starting clean. Before I wiped it, I did a direct disk-to-disk copy to a big external hard drive I have. While I have been able to migrate most of the necessary files without any problems, I was wanting to boot from it today to check a few settings. I plugged in the hard drive, rebooted, changed the BIOS to boot from USB-HDD first. But, no mattter what I do, it always boots from my primary drive to Windows 7. I do not see any kind of error message or anything.

How can I boot to Windows XP 64-bit on this external hard drive?

  • I am currently running a CHKDSK /R on this drive right now. But it is a 2TB so it may take a while. Apr 2, 2010 at 18:01

3 Answers 3


Is the external drive bootable? How did you copy the data?

You need a boot sector on the drive, generally laid down by the installation process.

A simple windows copy will not copy this sector. You'd need to do the equivalent of a unix "dd" command to grab the exact image of the disk.

  • I used Norton Ghost to do the disk-to-disk copy Apr 2, 2010 at 18:06
  • Is there any way to make it bootable? Apr 2, 2010 at 18:07
  • I think Ghost is supposed to do this, but am not sure. If you completely disconnect the internal drive and try to boot from the external drive, what happens?
    – DCookie
    Apr 2, 2010 at 18:56
  • I will have to try that later, I am on the road now. Will keep you posted. Apr 2, 2010 at 20:18

I have booted off USB drives many times. Some disk copy software does not copy the boot sector. Use the command on the Windows 7 DVD in the BOOT menu - bootsect.exe /nt60 x: (where x: is your external drive)

  • not working :( i have this problem too
    – Arash
    Mar 27, 2013 at 10:05

I think this way may help you.

Guide: How To Create A USB Bootable Installer Drive For Windows 8

finally i found the answer!!

I needed to boot from a External Hdd, because I had no CD/DVD-drive and no flash usb. This worked for me: Use MiniTool Partition Wizard, a free tool!

- create a boot disk in partition wizard
- boot your computer with boot disk in
- copy the win8-iso-partition (do the step 5 thing as well, but as described in comments) from external hdd to the computer hard drive.
- set partition as primary and active
- reboot, and boot from local drive

Step 5: In the Command Prompt, type-in the following commands and hit Enter key after typing each command.



bootsect x:

(where “x” is your external hard drive’s drive letter)

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