OS: Windows 10
Hardware: “Workspace” USB Flash Drive (Rated to work with Windows to Go.) If the drive is not a “Workspace” drive you can use Rufus instead.
Windows To Go is a feature in Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education that enables the creation of a Windows To Go workspace that can be booted from a USB-connected external drive on PCs.
How to Create a Windows to Go USB Drive Without the Enterprise Edition
Windows To Go: feature overview
Windows To Go
- A USB Flash Drive or External Hard Drive With 16 GB of more of space. For the best performance, the drive should be USB 3.0 and plugged into a USB 3.0 port.
- Windows 10 ISO that includes \sources\install.wim
|Microsoft Windows and Office ISO Download Tool||Used to download the ISO that includes \sources\install.wim from Microsoft.
Note: The ISO must include \sources\install.wim that can be used to customize Windows setup by including new drivers, themes and applications. And, also to create a Windows to Go on a USB flash drive.
The ISO that is downloaded using MediaCreationTool.exe includes install.osd which is not recognized by GImageX.
|GImageX||GImageX is a graphical user interface to the ImageX tool from the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (Windows ADK). It will allow you to work with WIM files from the Windows installation media and create a Windows To Go drive without needing the Microsoft’s official Windows-To-Go-creator tool, or the Windows ADK (Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit).
ImageX is used to capture and apply WIM images for Windows deployments. GImageX uses the supported Microsoft WIMGAPI API for working with WIM files.
Insert the USB Drive
Make a note of the drive letter.
Mount the ISO and Locate the Install.wim file:
Install.wim is found in the X:\sources\ directory on the Windows installation media.
If you have an ISO file, you can “mount it” on Windows 10 by double-clicking on the ISO in File Explorer, or right-clicking and selecting mount.
X: is the drive letter of the installation media or the mounted ISO.
Image install.wim onto a USB Drive
Run the GImageX tool. Make sure to run the correct version of the program for your computer, x64 on a 64-bit version of Windows or x86 on a 32-bit version of Windows.
- Click the Apply tab in GImageX
- In the Source field, browse for to the install.wim file on the install media. e.g. The mounted ISO.
- In the Destination field, choose the external drive you’ll be installing Windows To Go on.
- Click the “Select…” button, and select the edition of Windows you want to install on the flash drive.
- Click the Apply button and GImageX will image the USB drive using the Install.wim file.
Note: If GImageX displays any access denied errors while copying files to the destination drive, just do a quick format of the drive, then try GImageX again.
Make the Partition Active
- You’ll need to make the Windows To Go partition active so your computer can boot from the USB drive.
- Open a Command Prompt or PowerShell as an Administrator and run compmgmt.msc
- In Computer Management, click on Storage > Disk Management to list the drives on the system.
- Right-click the partition you imaged the Windows To Go system onto, and select Mark Partition as Active.
Create Boot Files/Entries on the USB Drive
Open a Command Prompt, as an Administrator: Right-click the Start button and select “Command Prompt (Admin).”
Run the following two commands to switch to the Windows To Go external drive, using its drive letter in place of X.
X: cd windows\system32
Run the following command to add the required boot files, where X: is the drive letter of the Windows To Go external USB drive:
bcdboot.exe X:\windows /s X: /f all
The \EFI\ directory with the boot files is created on the root of X:
Boot from the Windows To Go drive
Restart the computer and boot from the Windows To Go drive.
- You can use the Boot Order Menu (often F12) to select the correct drive to boot from. You may need to configure the boot order in the BIOS.
- Make sure to watch the screen after you’ve selected the Windows To Go drive to boot from, so that you can respond when prompted to “press any key to boot from USB.”
The first time you boot the Windows To Go drive, you’ll have to go through the same first-time setup process after installing Windows on a computer.
The setup process may re-boot the system to complete the setup, so watch for the re-boot so that you can press the appropriate key to display the boot menu, then select the Windows To Go drive to boot from.