Saturday, 13 Jul 2024

How to Run Windows 10 From USB

We all have our computers set up according to our individual requirements. This includes things like system settings, default save locations for files, a set of installed programs, and even custom themes. But what if you could carry your personalized digital work environment on a USB flash drive and have Windows 10 run on any computer? Well, it turns out you can with the Windows To Go functionality.

Before we dive into the steps on how to run Windows 10 from USB, let’s go over the hardware and software requirements you’ll need.

Initial Requirements

Before you can create a portable Windows 10 installation on a USB flash drive, make sure you have the following:

  • A USB 3.0 flash drive with at least 16 GB of capacity (preferably higher).
  • Windows 10 ISO file or installation disc.
  • WinToUSB, a freeware utility that needs to be installed on your computer.

Now that we have the requirements sorted, let’s proceed with the installation process.

How to Install Windows 10 on USB Flash Drive using WinToUSB?

To create a portable copy of Windows 10 on a USB flash drive, we’ll be using the free version of the WinToUSB utility. This utility has numerous advantages, including the ability to create Windows To Go flash drives from non-supported versions of Windows. It can also clone your existing Windows installation as a digital workspace on the USB flash drive, which is useful when you don’t have an ISO or installation disc.

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Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use WinToUSB to install Windows 10 on a USB flash drive:

Step 1: Install and run WinToUSB

Specify the location of the Windows 10 ISO file or installation disc and click Next.

WinToUSB Step 1

Step 2: Select the USB flash drive

Provided that your USB flash drive is already plugged in, select it. The program will format the drive. In the next step, select the flash drive as both the system and boot partition. You don’t need to tinker with the other options. Click Next to start copying Windows 10 to the USB flash drive.

WinToUSB Step 2

Step 3: Wait for the installation to finish

Wait for Windows 10 to be installed on the USB drive. This process may take a few minutes. Once it’s finished, you can use this flash drive to boot and run a portable, fully functional copy of Windows 10 on any computer, complete with all the pre-installed modern apps and programs. How convenient is that?

Important Points to Note

When you boot up Windows 10 from the USB flash drive for the first time, there are a few setup tasks you’ll need to do, such as setting up the account information (e.g., username, password) and going through the Out-of-box experience (OOBE). However, once configured, all these settings are saved on the USB flash drive, so you won’t need to configure them again.

Windows 10 Portable Starting

Generally, whenever you use the portable Windows 10 installation on a new computer, the OS automatically looks for the best default drivers for the connected hardware, such as the monitor. So it might take a few minutes (and reboots) before you can start working on the computer.

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Possible Issues

Running an operating system as big as Windows 10 from a USB drive comes with some issues. Here are a few that you might come across:

  • Reduced performance: USB flash drives, although getting better, still aren’t as capable as internal disk drives. So the general performance may get a little choppy, especially on slower USB 2.0 flash drives or during CPU-intensive tasks.
  • Driver problems: The portable Windows 10 installation can automatically search for the best drivers for almost any computer it’s used with. However, there might be times when one or more drivers aren’t found, resulting in certain hardware not working correctly, such as audio or wireless.
  • Local disk partitions not detected: By default, when you boot a computer with a portable copy of Windows 10 from a USB flash drive, the disk drives on the host computer are not accessible.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I use a USB 2.0 flash drive instead of a USB 3.0 drive?

    • Although it’s recommended to use a USB 3.0 flash drive for better performance, you can still use a USB 2.0 flash drive. Just keep in mind that the overall performance may be affected.
  2. Will I need to reconfigure Windows 10 every time I use a different computer?

    • No, all your settings and configurations are saved on the USB flash drive. Once you’ve set up Windows 10 on the USB drive, you won’t need to reconfigure it on other computers.
  3. Can I install Windows 10 on a USB drive using a Mac computer?

    • No, WinToUSB is a Windows-only utility. You’ll need a Windows computer to create a portable Windows 10 installation on a USB flash drive.
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Having the ability to run Windows 10 completely from USB drives brings you closer to working with your personalized Windows 10 workspace wherever you go. Although there are some performance and driver issues to consider, it’s a convenient solution. Give it a try, see how it works for you, and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.