General discussion

Installing Windows on an external hard drive

I am doing self study for the MCSE Certification using Microsoft study guides. The study guides came with an xp pro cd and a windows 2003 server cd to use for studying and practicing. I had a desktop (dell dimension 8200)running Windows XP pro and I recently purchased a laptop (dell inspiron 6000) running XP media center. I now have a home network setup. My original plan was to partiton a drive on the laptop using partition manager and install the study versions of xp pro then server 2003 on it. However, I noticed that the laptop already has three primary partitions and once I formatted an NTFS partition, I was unable to create another FAT partition for the Boot Magic application. A dell technician suggested that I purchase an external hard drive and install the study versions of xp pro and server 2003 on it as needed. Can an OS be installed and run smoothly on a external hard drive? Is that my best option? Please advise. Thanks.

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(NT) (NT) There should be nothing to stop you
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There is plenty to stop you.

Microsoft has yet to offer an install to USB or Firewire drives. You can however install LINUX to such drives.

Don't like this Windows limitation? Call them up.


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And they never will

This would make it too easy to use one copy of Windows on multiple machines -- and they would not get the extra bucks.


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I am installing XP Pro on my external USB HD right now? It is a Firewire/USB drive. I could not install Windoze while connected to the firewire interface but the USB interface seems to be working just fine.

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How did the Install go to Ext. HD???

Hi...did your install of XP Pro to and external USB HD go okay? I have heard of all the limitations/problems on trying to install a MS Windows product to an exteral HD.

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How did you do that ?

I currently have linux installed on my laptops hard drive. I dont want to wipe out my hard drive to install windows. I need windows XP to use a certain program for my work and I have an installation CD for windows XP but unfortunately I dont know how to install it on an external (20GB) USB hard drive that I have. Can you please tell me how you installed Windows XP on your hard drive, could you please tell me step by step.

Thank you,
I hope you can help me because I have searched everywhere for an answer and cant seem to find a solution to my problem.

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Never been done. Or rather...

I've seen it install, but never boot or run from said USB or firewire hard disk. Read carefully what the poster wrote.


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insaid of using an external hard drive use an internal one and put it in yur computer to install windows then take it out and put it in an external hard drive case that you can get on E-BAY for a buck


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Win 2003 on WD USB

I'm installing 2003 Server on a WD USB drive even as I type. I'll let you know how it goes...

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I've seen the installer install, but boot fails to...

I've seen the install, install but never seen a full windows boot and be usuable from other than SCSI externals.

SATA externals are today's externals for such needs.


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ya ive been studying on this latly too im actually getting a team right now on it, but at the moment it seems that the hal does not allow you to switch to different hardware and boot. However there might be a way to bypass that as there is on some linux systems.

PS: This mainly does with if you go into the device manager and go under the computer tab at the top. Switching to standard Computer from ACPI does not help. but if we can find a way so that winxp doesnt depend on the hal.dll then we might get somewhere.

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Hint: Look up BartPE on

But be aware while Bart figured it all out, Microsoft came calling.


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0Mg lol FInally FOund it!!!
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BARTPE is a the unoffical form of window's Pre-installation enviroment, and basically it sucks unless ur doin some networkin, IT DOESNT DO ANYTHIN!!!

o except partition and mozilla firefox

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Tell that to those...

Who I used it to salvage their files.

It's very useful.


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now im just

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(NT) Hal probably stands for Hardware Locator.
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installing windows to a external hdd(usb)

there is a way to do this. i am a field tech and i use a 20gb usb hdd for diags. and its just plain damn nice to have on a job just in case cant boot the one in the system. the only thing is that the system board bios on the motherboard needs to have an option for a usb hdd or usb external device as a boot option. i just unpluged my hdd inside the case. pluged in the drive and then put in a install disk and boot up. when it ask to press any key to boot from cd-rom drive. then u load up the setup. and when it gets to the format page, if 1`itshows the drive in there 2. its the correct size. then formate with ur preferd formate i personly use ntfs if possible with xp< and then formate and install. u then with that same bios option can move usb to top device and every time u have usb pluged in. will boot that one first then if u cancle that on start up with advanced boot device menu(commonly f12 on startup) check ur motherboard manule for more details. u should then be able to boot windows to full desktop. u may want to if u wish to section off a partion for drivers alone. and just cary arround the drivers for ur systems if this is home. or at lest a version of winternals. or maybe a ultmute boot cd(ubcd) and that way u can spec out any machine and even with winternals u should be able to at least get online to dl more drivers.

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Installing Windows on an External Hard Drive.

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