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Installing Windows on USB thumbdrive


Bercik
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Hi,

I've been messing around with this problem quite some time. My goal is to install Windows (any) onto the flash drive (thumbdrive).

Windows 2003 Server after loading the installer recognizes flash drive, but but choosing it ends with something like that:

Your computers startup program cannot gain access to the

disk containing the partition or free space you chose.

Setup cannot install windows on this hard disk.

This lack of access doesn't necessarily indicate an error

condition.

For example, disk attached to a SCSI adaptor that wasn't

installed by your computer manufacturer or to a secondary

hard disk controller, are typically not visible to the

startup program unless special software is used

I've tried FAT32 and NTFS filesystem. Always the same result. Then I tried the Windows 2008 Datacenter - it does not see flashdrive at all. Probably because .... I have no idea. This is not a SATA drive so lack of drivers couldn't be the reason.

I managed to make linux boot from USB with some problems (depending on distro), but i usually succeeded.

Thing worth mentioning is: I had no problems booting windows from USB (as a source disk).

Well, any ideas? Thanks

p.s.

one more thing - I try to do this inside VMware, but I think this is not cause of failing

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XP (and possibly 2k3): http://www.msfn.org/board/install-usb-wins...ui-t120444.html

Vista: Apparently this works, though I haven't tried it.

Win7: Get hold of a copy of Windows Embedded 2011, it installs full copies of Win7 to USB drives as standard, it's a bit like normal Windows 7 but with vLite stuck in the middle of the setup. Works pretty well.

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Thanks for quick reply. I'll test those tomorrow. But the xp/2k3 tutorial says:

How to install from USB- WinSetupFromUSB with GUI, Lets try to make it easy for everyone...

Post suggests that this is a way to create multiple cds installation drive - not a way to install XP/2k3 onto the drive.

It's useful anyway, but not the thing I was looking for. (Or my understanding is bad?)

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Thanks for quick reply. I'll test those tomorrow. But the xp/2k3 tutorial says:

Post suggests that this is a way to create multiple cds installation drive - not a way to install XP/2k3 onto the drive.

It's useful anyway, but not the thing I was looking for. (Or my understanding is bad?)

Absolutely right, my mistake, I couldn't find the link I was looking for originally, I found that one in my bookmarks and figured that was the one. Here is the correct link. It looks hard, it's really not, it's just a little tedious.

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I've found that yesterday, tried it and description said that this is only for USB HDD, table shows that it works with Sandisk flash. I tried it with 2003 and didn't work ;/

Maybe today i'll try with XP. But did you try ever doing this? If so - did you succeeded?

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I have used that method, yeah, I installed XP to an SD card on my eee with it. Personally I'd say it's hardly worth the effort, XP doesn't like being moved around machines so it's not portable, many SD cards an USB sticks are very slow in comparison even to a USB HDD, and it can sometimes cause general quirks to pop up where they otherwise wouldn't.

The Windows PE/BartPE methods will probably work slightly better but it's more effort than it's worth imo and you'll find that a sizeable chunk of the OS is missing and you won't be able to use a lot of drivers with it. It still doesn't boot very quickly.

So yeah, it does work, but XP's 8 years old now and you won't get a very good experience out of it running from a USB stick. Ultimately I'd recommend the Windows 7 (Embedded 2011) route if you don't mind ditching XP, it still won't be blazing fast but at the very least it's designed to boot from USB devices. You can also use the Vista's WAIK but as with XP's PE environment, it won't be overly functional, and takes a bit of work to set up.

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About the performance - I did consider if it going to kill me and answer is .. probably no. Why because I want to use this solution for my new... server (yes, server and don't shoot ;P). First question - why the hell i would like to do that.

I have spare one thumbdrive so I could install OS there, configure it properly and prepare for.. 'deploy'. After installation and updates there won't much going on on system partition (Windows logs and such). I have 2SATA slots and 2 drivers so I thought about software RAID. (I would love to setup hardware one, but itx mobo I've got doesn't support one :( if it did i would install OS onto array).

I tested XP, 2003, 2008 and 7. In all cases software raid works good.

So to save space, electricity and heat instead of putting there 2.5 drive or any other media I want to use USB drive.

I've consider compact flash (after few fails with usb i did research). Not super-expensive but something is > 0

Maybe any thoughts on that?

And coming back to 7 - i'll try this in a moment hopefully. I like win 7, but i know it not as good as XP, and this my result in security vulnerability (we don't want that since this is server accessed from the web do we :) )

Uff, lot of text.

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