I want to show my external USB hard disk as a SATA hard disk in a virtual machine but neither VirtualBox nor VMware give me that option. They only allow .vhd, .hhd, parallels hard disk, etc.

Actually I want that because I want to install Windows on an external hard disk and create my workspace in the hard disk, but Windows does not allow me to do so. I know there is a Windows To Go feature in Windows 8 but I want to use Windows 7.

Is there a way of emulating an external hard disk as a SATA internal drive in a virtual machine? Or is there any other way of installing Windows on an external hard disk. I found a few tutorials out there but none of them seem comprehensive.


VirtualBox does not work like that. I don't know about VMware, someone else can elaborate on that for you.

VirtualBox uses a file as the "virtual hard disk". That represents a hard disk, which is an allocated area of space - its' not real. From this, you can partition it into many, and have it act as a RAID or whatever you want. If you want to use the whole HDD that you have connected via USB, then all you need to do is create the virtual hard disk on that drive and leave it there, with an expandable option up to the quota of the hard disk.

SATA and USB are two totally different hardware specs, so it wouldn't even be able to emulate SATA I/II on the USB, even if you were using USB 3.0 - they are not the same thing.

From what I understand, VMWare would also do what VirtualBox does. It you want to use it for things like that, you're going to need commercial-grade software that will be able to emulate the hardware you choose to the virtual machines. I use ESXi at work, and we can "trick" the virtual instances like that, and use multiple hard drives in a type of array, but that's only for practicing real-world deployments.

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  • Thank you very much. But by the way can you tell me a way to install Windows 7 in an external hard disk. – Devesh Khandelwal Mar 14 '14 at 15:09
  • Do you mean install Windows 7 on an external hard disk, so that you can use it as a VM with VirtualBox or VMWare? – Danijel-James W Mar 15 '14 at 22:27
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    No. Iwant to install Windows 7 on an external hard disk to make it my portable workspace. I want to plug it anywhere and boot from it, work and move. I was able too do so in Ubuntu 13.10 but not with Windows. – Devesh Khandelwal Mar 16 '14 at 6:02

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