I'm the proud owner of a Lenovo W520 which is equipped with an eSATA (eSATAp actually) port. However I'd like to attach an external eSATA drive to it, install Win7 on this external drive and boot from it.

On the internet there are on one hand lots of resources stating that it's not possible to install win7 on USB/Firewire disks (although some workarounds for XP exist). The only source which sounds more or less hopeful is http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_7-windows_install/can-i-install-windows-7-64-bit-on-external-esata/e08dd9e5-a4f4-47d5-afc3-a0325ad045ac )

Some Lenovo forum stats the BIOS would support booting from eSATA (ref http://forums.lenovo.com/t5/W-Series-ThinkPad-Laptops/W510-W520-can-they-boot-from-Esata/td-p/550335 ). However there they do not explicitly mention Windows like operating systems.

Hence my question, do any of you guys/girls have a either a working setup with a win7 installed on an eSATA(p) port ? Or do you have an explanation why booting from eSATA(p) might not work ? (read: how is the eSATAp electrically interfaced with the remainder of the system ?)

  • I just did it by accident! I got a new ssd for my laptop, and installed it, copied my data over, setup the /etc/fstab as I wanted it. Then I hooked the old disk up to the esata port to have access to a storage partition. Today I rebooted my computer. Everything seemed fine until I did an fdisk and realized I was on /dev/sdb instead of /dev/sda! I was so confused, but it's clear from the size of the partitions that I'm not on the right drive. Maybe that's why the SSD didn't seem to improve performance so much! – Brian Mar 8 '13 at 3:12

As long as the bios supports it there shouldn't be any particular issues. The boot sequence basically starts with the bios recognizing a master drive with an master boot record (MBR) where windows is stored and then calling the windows bootloader. Since windows has eSATA support and basically just abstracts the hardware as drive letters like C: it will just read the files off of the disk regardless of hardware interface

  • W520 should support this. – Shinrai Dec 5 '11 at 20:08
  • Well, you just gave the definition of a bootable disk or what it takes for the bios to start launching a bootloader/OS from a disk. However the OS also needs to support this. To counter your example, as USB harddrive can follow exactly the procedure you mention, however a default windows installation will not boot from it (Linux, BSD and others will). – amo-ej1 Dec 6 '11 at 6:05

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