Everyone knows about the bootable Linux Live CD/DVD and USB pen-drives that you can boot from and use Linux without having to install anything on your hard drives. In fact, you do not really need any hard drives if you are using these bootable Linux Live media. But if you do not like Linux and are more of a Windows fan, then you can also have a somewhat similar thing called Windows To Go which can be used to boot into Windows on any PC that has USB 3.0 ports.
You can install Windows 10 to a USB removable drive using the Windows To Go feature. But unlike the Linux counterparts, Windows needs a really fast USB drive and demands only USB 3.0 drives with fast data transfer rates. You can create a Windows To Go drive from within Windows through the Control Panel option. But a much easier and faster alternative is Rufus which allows you to create Windows To Go drives using the ISO images for Windows 10, Windows 8.1, and Windows 7.
Before you start creating a Windows To Go UBS drive, make sure you have the following:
- A USB drive with USB 3.0 support and storage capacity of at least 32 GB. There are Windows To Go certified drives available that give guaranteed fast performance. For example, Kingston offers special USB drives for this – http://www.kingston.com/en/usb/bootable. Other USB 3.0 drives will work too but won’t perform as good.
- A Windows 7, 8.1 or 10 ISO image. You can create these images using AnyToISO from any bootable Windows DVD. You can also download Windows 8.1 or 10 ISO images from Microsoft website.
- Rufus – a great tool to create bootable USB drives. It works with the ISO images of many operating systems like Windows, Linux, FreeDOS and more.
After you have all these three, attach the USB drive to your PC, launch Rufus and select the target USB drive in it. If your portable USB drive does not appear, then you can use Alt+F hotkey to list all the drives on your PC (be very careful with this option) and choose the correct target drive.
Click on the CD/DVD icon next to Create a bootable disk using and choose the Windows ISO image located somewhere on your PC. Select Windows To Go option and then click on the Start button. It will take a few minutes before your Windows To Go drive is ready.
Once this drive is ready, you can attach it to any compatible PC (that is able to run Windows and has USB 3.0 ports) press F12 during the boot, select the proper boot device from the list and then you will be booting using the newly created Windows To Go drive. It will be a slower boot compared to booting from an SSD or HDD.