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Can You Put an Operating System onto an External Hard Drive?

by ramairmustang / December 26, 2006 7:13 AM PST

I would like to install Windows XP onto a 6GB Portable Hard Drive in order to boot up a computer that can not be booted up from its own hard drive. Is there anyone who can tell me if this can be done or not and if it can any directions?

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Yes, but not XP.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / December 26, 2006 7:18 AM PST

Your topic question's answer is yes, but then you note XP. Microsoft doesn't supply XP in a form for you to run it from an external USB or Firewire or other type drive.

I will note that some one has heavily modified XP to do such (lookup BartPE) but decline to offer any further information on this dead end.

-> Linux will install and run happily on such a drive.


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Anything but Windows
by jackson dougless / December 26, 2006 7:52 AM PST

Windows is pretty much the only operating system that can't do this. Not because of any technical limitation, but because Microsoft has intentionally sabotaged Windows to prevent this. I do believe they sell a bootable Windows CD to a few select customers, which you and I would not be.

If you're looking for a sort of diagnostic/backup/repair sort of CD, try looking into the Knoppix Linux distribution. Most computer techs worth their salt probably have one in their collection, or something very similar at least.

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Where to get a copy of Linx
by ramairmustang / December 26, 2006 8:25 AM PST
In reply to: Anything but Windows

Is there a site that I can goto to get this Linx OS?

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Pick your flavor.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / December 26, 2006 8:31 AM PST
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Going Crazy
by ramairmustang / December 26, 2006 3:05 PM PST
In reply to: Pick your flavor.

I am having a very hard time getting anything to work. I downloaded one iso and put it on disc and it looked like it was gonna work then when i clicked on the install choice it said theres an error on the disc. I cant figure out how to get it installed onto an external drive. Any idea's?

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Not an one.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / December 27, 2006 12:00 AM PST
In reply to: Going Crazy

You might want to consider that I don't know which distro you tried. For instance when we boot up DSL (Damn Small Linux) there is an icon on the screen to install to USB or other drives.

But since each distro may not have the Easy Button... And you neglected which you tried, I can't offer any help.


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Damn Small
by ramairmustang / December 27, 2006 4:16 PM PST
In reply to: Not an one.

I downloaded that one how do I use it? Im not familiar with DSL OS's

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A good OS could be one you don't use.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / December 27, 2006 9:48 PM PST
In reply to: Damn Small

At first that may sound cryptic but most people are interested in using the applications and not the OS. For example the Web Browser or maybe the file browser.

Fortunately both of this are similar to use.

To learn about an OS may take time, a class or a fine book if one doesn't hit web sites or maybe


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by Edward ODaniel / December 28, 2006 6:17 AM PST
In reply to: Going Crazy

It isn't as small a download but you can discover how to use it (as well as a link to download it from) here:

Computer First Aid Using Knoppix

The above is complete with screenshots

A more complete user manual is available here if you decide to get more out of the OS:

The first guide to Knoppix for the complete beginner:
You can either order the booklet or download it as Adobe Acrobat PDF files. Much of it applies to other distributions also.

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Can you put an operating system on an external hard drive
by jsjacksgirl / August 4, 2011 1:54 PM PDT

I have been reading these threads and I have sucessfully installed xp on my external hard drive but in an unconventional way. I used partitionguru to make a clone of my current hard drive . You can't clone
the partition it won't boot. But if you clone the drive it will boot. There is one problem. Your external
hard drive has to be as large as the drive windows is installed on.
Believe it or not I got win7 to boot off of a usb 16gig. I used disk part to create a primary partition and then
then formatted and made it active. I used xcopy /s/e/f to copy the C and D drive to my usb.

The damn thing booted up and I almost fell out of my chair.

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