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How To Create Windows To Go USB Drive Using Windows 8 Enterprise?

Windows To Go is a feature, allows user to boot and run Windows 8 from a USB drive, much like a Linux Live CD. It’s definitely not an ordinary bootable USB drive meant for setup, but is to run Windows OS!

Having said that, now you can just travel with a tiny USB drive that’s capable to run Windows 8 on any Intel/AMD computer with BIOS that supports booting from USB drive.
This is extremely attractive to geeks who prefer traveling light, where even an Ultrabook is a burden if there is already a big screen smartphone (e.g. Samsung Galaxy Note) and the destination affords to provide a computer good for running Windows To Go.

What you need?

The requirement is simple! You just need these to create Windows To Go USB drive:

1. A USB 2.0 disk drive or a Windows To Go certified flash drive.
2. A computer running Windows 8 Enterprise.
3. A Windows 8 Enterprise setup disc or ISO image file.

Step-by-Step guide for creating a Windows To Go USB drive

There is a geek’s way and also a simple way that is as easy as pie:

1. Load the Windows 8 Enterprise installation media to disc drive. If it’s an ISO image file, just double-click the disc image file (Windows 8 should automatically mount it, no need to install/use 3rd-party DVD emulator such as DAEMON Tools Lite, MagicISO Virtual CD/DVD-ROM, etc).

2. Connect the USB drive.
In this test, am using the old Seagate FreeAgent Go 320GB USB 2.0 disk drive.

For performance’s sake, an USB 3.0 disk drive is recommended.
For truly portable, get the certified USB flash drive.

The bottom-line is a fast read/write drive, not necessary to have USB 3.0. I suspect that just any SSD-class of flash drive is a good candidate, e.g. Kingston’s DataTraveler Workspace.

3. Press Windows key or Windows+Q hotkey then type “windows to go”, click “Settings” (on right) and click the first target in the result list:

Create Windows To Go

Alternatively, press Windows+X hotkey and select Control Panel, select view by large/small icon, locate and click on “Windows To Go” icon.

4. Now, just go through the intuitive instructions, i.e. select the detected USB drive and Windows 8 image (the .wim file), turn on the optional BitLocker feature (for security’s sake, use this full disk encryption feature to protect data in case you misplace/lose the USB drive), create it, and then end it with “No – Save and close”.

Can’t get it? Watch this demo in full-screen 720p (another silent screencast posted to YouTube):

Once it’s completed, disconnect the USB drive and it’s set for use on another computer / laptop that’s totally different in hardware configuration (as long it is not using ARM processor).
In my test, the Windows To Go disk is created on Intel Core i5-3470 system with 8GB RAM, but it’s able to boot and run on Asus U32U laptop powered by AMD Fusion APU E-450 with 2GB RAM, then also working fine on Dell Latitude E6220 powered by Core i5-2540M with 4GB RAM.

Note, the Windows To Go disk doesn’t appear in the File Explorer and no disk letter in the Safely Remove Hardware list. Similarly, the internal hard disk doesn’t appear in File Explorer of Windows To Go workspace.

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