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Summary :

make external hard drive bootable Windows 10

What are the advantages of making external hard drive bootable? The first one is that you can use a bootable external hard drive to boot the unbootable computer. The second one is that when you don't want to use the system that comes with the computer, you can use bootable drive to boot the computer.

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Why Do You Need to Make External Hard Drive Bootable Windows 10?

There are a number of important reasons for users to make external hard drive bootable Windows 10. I have listed some reasons below.

  • When your Windows 10 fails to boot due to system corruption, hard drive failure, or a virus attack, you can easily boot your computer using the Windows 10 bootable external hard drive you created earlier to avoid being unable to use your computer at important times.
  • If you need to use a computer, but the computer is not around, then you can use the bootable drive to start other computers and use your own operating system anytime, anywhere.

How to Make External Hard Drive Bootable Windows 10?

How to make a Windows 10 bootable external drive? There are four methods for you. And Windows provides two built-in features to make a bootable external hard drive. Another two solutions, you need to download MiniTool software to make external hard drive bootable Windows 10.

Make External Hard Drive Bootable Windows 10 with Windows To Go

Most people know that external hard drive bootable Windows 10 can be created by Windows To Go function that comes with Windows 10. Windows To Go can be used to copy all the system related files to the external hard drive so as to make it bootable. Therefore, you can plug the USB drive into your computer and start the computer from the external hard drive.

However, there are several limitations for users to use this way to make external hard drive bootable Windows 10:

  • First, to use Windows To Go, your Windows 10 must be Enterprise or Education or Professional version. (In addition, Windows 8/8.1 Enterprise Edition has this feature, and other versions or operating systems do not have Windows To Go feature.)
  • Second, Windows To Go can only be run when the USB drive is certified and the storage space of it must be at least 32GB. If the USB drive does not have enough space or is not certified, Windows To Go cannot be used to create Windows bootable USB drive.

Then how to use Windows To Go to make Windows 10 bootable USB drive? The method is below.

Step 1:You need to download Windows 10 ISO file in your computer and insert a larger than 32GB certified USB drive into the computer.

Step 2: Type control panel in the search box at first and click Control Panel to continue.

type control panel

Step 3: You can set view by Small icons or enter Windows To Go in the right top search box, and click Windows To Go to continue.

find Windows To Go in the control panel

Step 4: Choose the drive you want to use in Create a Windows To Go workspace window. Then click on it and click Next to continue.

choose the drive you want to use and click on it

Step 5: Click Add search location to search for the Windows 10 ISO file and choose the Windows 10 ISO image to continue.

search for Windows 10 ISO file

Step 6: Choose whether to set a BitLocker password. If you want to set a password, then enter your password, but you need to type your password to unlock the drive in the future. If not, click Skip to continue.

choose whether to set a BitLocker password

Step 7: All the data on the USB drive will be deleted because the USB drive will be reformatted. Remember to back up important files before click Create.

read the note carefully in case that you have not backed up file

Step 8: After finishing, select Yes or No to boot the computer from the new created Windows 10 bootable USB drive or not. If you want to test whether the USB drive is bootable, choose Yes and click Save and restart. If not, select No and click Save and close.

choose whether to test USB flash drive is bootable

After these operations, you can make USB drive bootable Windows 10. But there are limitations that don’t suit everybody. Therefore, I highly recommend you try the second method to make external hard drive bootable Windows 10.

Use MiniTool ShadowMaker to Make External Hard Drive Bootable Windows 10

MiniTool ShadowMaker is a piece of powerful and effective software to back up the operating system, disk and partitions, files and folders. What’s more, you can use it to sync files and folders quickly and safely. It can also clone disk making external hard drive bootable Windows 10. So why don’t you just download it and have a try?

Free Download

Step 1: Please launch MiniTool ShadowMaker first, then choose Local or Remote to get the main interface by clicking Connect.

Note: If you want to manage a remote computer, computers need to be on the same LAN.

Step 2: Please click Clone Disk on the Tools page to continue.

click Clone Disk on the Tools page

Step 3: Please click Source to choose the clone source, then choose system disk and click Finish to continue.

select the source disk from combo box

Step 4: Please click Destination to select the external hard disk to save the copy and click Finish to continue.

Tip: If your external hard disk is too small, then you cannot continue.

select the target disk from combo box

Step 5: After you have selected the source disk and the target disk, please click OK to continue.

make sure that you have chosen the right source and target disk

Step 6: Please read the warning and click Yes.

Note: Please make sure that there is no important data on the target disk because all the data will be destroyed. If there is, please back up data at first.

read the warning and click Yes

Step 7: Please read the information in the pop-up window carefully: If both disks are connected to the computer, one will be marked as offline. Then click Yes and Finish to finish cloning disk.

Tip: If the Remaining Time is so long that you don’t want to wait, you can check Shut down the computer when the operation is completed.

read the information carefully and click Finish

After you have read the steps above, you can clearly draw that this method is much easier and more convenient than the first method. Besides, you can transfer OS from one computer to another as long as they are in the same LAN.

MiniTool ShadowMaker is really a piece of convenient and secure software to help me make external hard drive bootable Windows 10.Click to tweet

Make External Hard Drive Bootable Windows 10 with Windows Command Prompt

If you are good at using Command Prompt, then you can also use Command Prompt to make external hard drive bootable Windows 10. But you also need to pay attention not to enter wrong command in case that you lose data or damage system files.

There are two things you need to do to make external hard drive bootable Windows 10.

Format external hard drive

In order to make external hard drive bootable Windows 10, you need to format external hard drive at first.

Step 1: Insert the external hard drive into your computer. Type cmd in the search box and right-click Command Prompt and choose Run as administrator to continue.

choose Command Prompt and Run as administrator

Step 2: You need to format the external hard drive first. Then type the following instructions one by one, and remember to press Enter every time after you typed instruction.

Diskpart > list disk > select disk n (n represents the drive letter of external hard drive) > clean > create partition primary > format fs=ntfs quick > assign letter=H (you can also choose other letter to assign primary partition) > exit

Copy files from a DVD to bootable USB using CMD

Above you have assigned the letter H to the external hard drive, and you have inserted a DVD inside the DVD drive to copy data from it to create a bootable USB drive. By default, the active directory of the Command Prompt's administrative permissions is located at C:\Windows\System32>, so you need to set the DVD (G) as active directory using CMD.

Tip: Make sure that you have already inserted a DVD inside the DVD drive.

Step 1: Type G and press Enter in Command Prompt window at first, then enter cd boot and press Enter. (If the drive letter of the mounted DVD drive in the File Explorer is not G, you can change it.)

Step 2: Enter bootsect /nt60 H and press Enter. Then type exit and press Enter to close Command Prompt.

As you can see, this method is too troublesome. And if you enter the wrong instructions, your computer could get in trouble. You may even lose your data, but you can use third-party software to recover data.

Use MiniTool Partition Wizard to Make External Hard Drive Bootable Windows 10

MiniTool Partition Wizard is also a piece of efficient software for you to make external hard drive bootable Windows 10. Besides, you can convert MBR disk to GPT disk and migrate OS to SSD/HD. So come to download MiniTool Partition Wizard and have a try.

Free Download Buy Now

Now follow the following steps and make external hard drive bootable Windows 10.

Step 1. Please download MiniTool Partition Wizard and launch it to open its main interface to continue.

Step 2. There are two options you can choose.

Option A: Select the disk which has OS installed and right-click it, then click Copy to continue.

Option B: Please click on the Copy Disk Wizard on the left action panel and click Next to continue.

choose system disk and click Copy

Step 3. Please choose the external hard as the target disk, and click Next, then click Yes to continue.

Note: Please make sure you have backed up all important data on the target disk because the data on it will be destroyed. If you accidentally click Yes before you have backed up the data, you can use MiniTool Power Data Recovery to recover data.

select external hard disk as target disk

Step 4. Please choose copy options and click Next to continue.

you can choose copy options and resize the system partition

Step 5. Please read the notification on the interface and know how to use the external hard disk to boot the computer and then click Finish to continue.

read the notification and know how to use external hard disk to boot computer

Step 6. Please click Apply to copy the operating system to the external hard disk.

click Apply to copy Windows 10 to external hard disk

Step 7. Please click Yes, then click Restart Now to copy system files to the external hard drive. After that, you can use your external hard disk to boot the computer.

click Restart Now to make the copy complete successfully

This method is also much more convenient than using Windows built features. So you can also use this method to make external hard drive bootable Windows 10.

After reading this article, I have mastered four methods to make external hard drive bootable Windows 10. And I think MiniTool ShadowMaker is more practical for me.Click to tweet

Bottom Line

This article has introduced four solutions to make external hard drive bootable, which offers you different choices. But using Windows 10 built-in features not only has several limitations but also may cause data loss and operating system damaged. Using third-party software is safer and can save a lot of time for you. In addition, there are plenty of useful functions with MiniTool ShadowMaker and MiniTool Partition Wizard.

If you have any better advice or confusion, please leave comments below or send an email to [email protected].

Make External Hard Drive Bootable Windows 10 FAQ

How do I make an external hard drive bootable?
  1. Launch MiniTool ShadowMaker, then click Connect.
  2. Click Clone Disk on the Tools page, then choose the system disk as the source and choose the external hard disk as the destination.
  3. Click OK and Yes to begin making an external hard drive bootable.
  4. Click Yes and Finish.
How do I make a USB drive bootable?
If you want to make a USB drive bootable, then you should make sure that there is no important data in it because all the data will be erased. Read this post to create a bootable USB drive - How Do You Make A Bootable USB Drive – Easy Tutorial.
Can you install Windows from an external hard drive?
Of course, you can install Windows from an external hard drive. And if you want to know detailed instructions to do that, then you should read this post carefully - How to Install Windows 10 on a New Hard Drive (with Pictures).
How do I install Windows 10 from a hard drive?
You should create Windows 10 installation media at first, then boot your computer with the installation media. Then choose the Language to install, Time and currency format, and Keyboard or input method. Click Install now and then follow the instructions to finish installing.
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