Install Windows To Go on Removable USB Drive

Windows To Go installer won't allow you to use most USB thumdrives, because they appear as removable USB mass storage devices to Windows. Also, Windows To Go in default configuration won't work properly on the removable USB thumbdrives.

Using FlashBoot, it's possible bypass Windows To Go installer restrictions and install Windows To Go to any USB thumbdrive. Also FlashBoot will make removable USB thumbdrive always appear as fixed to Windows To Go.

Contents

1. Windows To Go on removable USB thumbrive installer error

When you are trying to use Windows To Go feature of Windows 10/8.1/8 Enterprise with your USB thumbdrive, the following error occurs in the Windows To Go installer:

This is a removable drive and isn't compatible with Windows To Go.
Choose a drive that meets the required hardware specifications.

Windows To Go on Removable Drive Error

2. Theory of Fixed vs Removable USB devices

All USB mass storage devices appear to Windows either as fixed or removable.

Usually external USB HDDs are fixed and USB thumbdrives are removable.

Whether the particular device is fixed or removable is determined by driver. Usually it's USBSTOR.SYS and it queries device itself to get removable/fixed flag.

The removable media device setting is a flag contained within the SCSI Inquiry 
Data response to the SCSI Inquiry command.
Bit 7 of byte 1 (indexed from 0) is the Removable Media Bit (RMB).
A RMB set to zero indicates that the device is not a removable media device.
A RMB of one indicates that the device is a removable media device.
Drivers obtain this information by using the StorageDeviceProperty request.
http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/archive/usbfaq.mspx

3. Why Windows To Go installer rejects removable USB devices

Originally, Windows was designed to run exclusively from fixed HDDs.

Later, when Windows To Go feature was implemented by Microsoft, it has been restricted to “certified list” list of USB mass storage devices which are both:

  • Fast enough (USB 3.0)
  • Appear to OS as fixed USB mass storage devices

First limitation exists to make sure that Windows to Go works fast enough to be on par with regular Windows installation (i.e. for optimum user experience).

Second limitation is due to compatibility requirements of Windows components, such as Kernel, Filesystem Drivers and Windows Restore.

4. Forcing Windows To Go installation on removable USB drive

However it's possible to bypass Windows To Go installer restrictions and install Windows To Go on any USB mass storage device regardless of whether it's fixed or removable, USB 3.0 or USB 2.0.

Also, by using some clever tricks to tweak registry and drivers, it's possible to make initial (boot) USB storage device always appear as fixed to Windows To Go.

Just use our tool FlashBoot and it will automatically handle all this magic for you. FlashBoot is a shareware for $29.95, but it has 30-day trial period, so you can make sure yourself that it works as intended, without spending a dime.

5. Using FlashBoot to install Windows To Go on any USB device

FlashBoot itself can be run under any version of Windows, starting from Windows XP, not necessarily under the version of Windows being installed to the target USB thumbdrive.

1) Run FlashBoot, click Next

Windows To Go on Removable USB - Starting FlashBoot
Windows To Go on Removable USB - Starting FlashBoot


2) Choose CD -> USB in Main Menu

Windows To Go on Removable USB - Bootable CD to USB Conversion
Windows To Go on Removable USB - Bootable CD to USB Conversion


3) Choose CD/DVD drive or image file and click Next

Windows To Go on Removable USB - Choosing Windows Installation CD or ISO Image File
Windows To Go on Removable USB - Choosing Windows Installation CD or ISO Image File


4) Choose "Install fully-functional Windows 8/8.1/10 to USB thumbdrive" from the scenario list and click Next

Windows To Go on Removable USB - Install Windows to Go on removable USB thumbdrive
Windows To Go on Removable USB - Install Windows to Go on removable USB thumbdrive


5) Choose target USB disk (flash, HDD) and click Next

Windows To Go on Removable USB - Choose target USB thumbdrive or USB HDD
Windows To Go on Removable USB - Choose target USB thumbdrive or USB HDD


6) Enter volume label or leave it as is and click Next

Windows To Go on Removable USB - Enter volume label for Windows to Go USB thumbdrive
Windows To Go on Removable USB - Enter volume label for Windows to Go USB thumbdrive


7) Check summary information and click Next

Windows To Go on Removable USB - Summary information
Windows To Go on Removable USB - Summary information


8) Wait for process completion

Windows To Go on Removable USB - Installing Windows to Go on removable USB thumbdrive
Windows To Go on Removable USB - Installing Windows to Go on removable USB thumbdrive


9) USB disk is ready for use. Click OK to exit

Windows To Go on Removable USB - FlashBoot done
Windows To Go on Removable USB - FlashBoot done