Install and boot Windows 10 / 11 on USB external disk

When developing software for PCs, multiple versions of an OS are needed for testing. In such cases, there is a way to install the OS on a virtual PC using VMware Workstation or other software. However, programs that use the GPU directly may require a physical machine. This article explains how to install Windows 10 or Windows 11 on an external disk.

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Installing Rufus

To install Windows 10 or Windows 11 on a USB external disk in a bootable state, you can use an app called Rufus, which is available at following site.

Rufus is OSS and licensed under the GPL. The code is available on GitHub.

The version used at the time of this writing is 3.2.1. Once downloaded, place it in any directory to complete the installation.

Installing Windows

Install Windows using Rufus. Connect the external disk to which you want to install. Next, download the Windows ISO image. In my case, I used the ISO image provided with my Visual Studio subscription because I use it for software development and debugging.

Launch Rufus and follow the steps below to install.

STEP
Turn on “List USB Hard Drives”.
STEP
From “Device,” select the disk to install to.
STEP
Click the “SELECT” button and choose the ISO image of OS.
STEP
Enter the name to be set for the destination disk in the “Volume label” field.
STEP
From “Image option”, select “Windows To Go”.
STEP
Click the “START” button.
State after setting
State after setting
STEP
Select the version of windows to install.
Select the version of windows to install
Select the version of windows to install
STEP
With “Prevent Windows To Go from accessing internal disks” turned on, click the “OK” button.
Select options for installation
Select options for installation
STEP
インストール先のフォーマット確認が表示されます。「OK」ボタンをクリックして続行します。
Confirmation of format execution
Confirmation of format execution
STEP
Installation will start. When “READY” is displayed, the installation is completed.
After installation is completed
After installation is completed

Boot from external disk

To boot from an OS installed on an external disk, change the BIOS or UEFI settings to give priority to the external disk over the internal disk for booting the OS. The method of changing this setting depends on the machine you are using, so please refer to the machine’s documentation.

In addition to the priority of the boot disk, some machines change the priority of the UEFI boot manager; for machines that can change the priority of the UEFI boot manager, change the priority of the boot manager to give priority to the external disk.

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Author of this article

Akira Hayashiのアバター Akira Hayashi Representative, Software Engineer

I am an application developer loves programming. This blog is a tech blog, its articles are learning notes. In my work, I mainly focus on desktop and mobile application development, but I also write technical books and teach seminars. The websites of my work and books are here -> RK Kaihatsu.

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