Plenty of simple tutorials on making a usb drive bootable and using the windows usb dvd download tool to copy over the windows installer, but they all require me to format the entire device. How can I use a volume created with "shrink drive" under Windows Volume Manager as a windows install medium?

  • Select a parition on said device. If it doesn't have partitions you will have to format the device so it does have them. That being said Windows does not do well with flash drives with partitions.
    – Ramhound
    Feb 5 '14 at 19:56

If you mean "Howto to free disk space (aka. resize existing partitions) to create a new partition for Windows", you can try Partition Magic (commercial tool by Symantec) (french demo download link).

A free alternative to Partition Magic on Windows seems to be EaseUS Partition Master free.

Here is a list of free Windows alternatives to Partition Magic.

Another alternative is GParted, but it is not available on Windows. GParted is a partition editing tool that allow to resize existing partitions. It is a free software (as in freedom and free beer). For computers that does not have GNU/Linux, GParted is available on Live CD.

As Ramhound said, installating Windows on a USB drive is a bad idea, since the drive letter will never be fixed. It may be possible to install Windows on a eSATA key.

A free alternative tool to create a Windows USB install disk is WinToFlash, it may have the feature you need.

  • I meant specifically the windows installation media. Question has been edited to reflect this.
    – jamesson
    Feb 5 '14 at 20:37
  • As far as i know, you can't do that. All USB boot disk software i know ask for a free USB drive, and work best with formating the said drive.
    – Biapy
    Feb 5 '14 at 20:40
  • And here we have the difference between technicians and engineers; technicians hear "can't be done" and move on to the next task, engineers hear "can't be done" and get motivated to do it.
    – jamesson
    Feb 5 '14 at 20:43
  • added a link to WinToFlash software that may fit your need (it's a big ? since i've not read the documentation of this tool).
    – Biapy
    Feb 5 '14 at 20:46
  • @jamesson : all things can be done in computer science... But if you need 3 days to create your usb key by hand because no software do it automatically, is is faster to backup your usb key and format it...
    – Biapy
    Feb 5 '14 at 20:48

When you install windows, you have the option to choose what partition to install it to, it will not automatically overwrite and existing OS.

So first create the partition of your liking by any means you find that works. Then, reboot with the install medium and look for the part of the install process that mentions partitions and installation location. Select your desired location and move forward through the process. Usually, if you select a partition that has an existing OS on it, it will throw a big warning, so even if you mess up, you should have at least on chance to undo your actions.

From my understanding, it will install a few files on the first partition of the primary drive, but the bulk of the OS will be installed on the partition selected.

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