I'm tired of configuring my system and all applications for different computers (work, home, laptop, ...). Can I copy my system on an USB-stick and boot from it? What are the pitfalls in doing so and what are good practices?

To give basic informations: I use Linux (Ubuntu, but I'm flexible on the distro).

  • You are going to need a really big flash drive. Just get a portable flash drive. Make sure to set up the BIOS. Aug 31, 2009 at 17:55
  • Can you do that with Vista? Aug 31, 2009 at 17:55
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    It's the equivalent of doing a Live CD boot off of a USB stick. Your biggest issue will be that it'll be slow to boot, and possibly slow to run. Aug 31, 2009 at 17:55
  • @Dynamic: No. Windows installs based on your hardware, and moving it to another computer gives a blue screen, mostly on purpose (security of copying windows installations) Aug 31, 2009 at 17:56
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    You can boot windows from a USB drive. You can't move that USB to another machine and expect it to function. Windows configures itself for the hardware it's installed on and will bluescreen (or behave erratically) on other hardware.
    – Chris Nava
    Aug 31, 2009 at 20:33

4 Answers 4


A good place to start would be this website: http://www.pendrivelinux.com/

  • I accept this answer, because it is more general than the answer of Days_of_Ruin, but both answers are fine, thank you.
    – Mnementh
    Aug 31, 2009 at 18:18

What distro? If you are using ubuntu its pretty easy to install it on a usb stick System > Administration > USB Startup Disk Creator. The only pitfall I can think of is not getting a big enough drive.

  • I use Ubuntu, thanks for your hint. I own a 16GB-USB-stick, that should be enough.
    – Mnementh
    Aug 31, 2009 at 18:06

Tiny Core Linux boots from USB, starts quickly, runs from RAM, and detects the hardware in the PC from which you boot the OS.

  1. You can use WinToFlash which is a program that transfers your Windows DVD installation to a Flash Drive so you can install from a Flash Drive.

  2. You can take a look at this article on how to make a bootable Windows XP for a flash drive. https://web.archive.org/web/1/http://articles.techrepublic%2ecom%2ecom/5100-22_11-5928902.html

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