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How to Install Windows 10 on External Hard Drive

Updated on Mar 16, 2018 by Jean to Partition Master

Summary:
Here you can find the complete solution about how to install Windows 10 on external hard drive. And this guide is also available for other Windows versions.

Is it possible to install Windows 10 on an external hard drive?

I have a Seagate 2TB Expansion desktop External HDD, which I have created 4 partitions, 3 of the 4 partitions are used up. Thinking that it will be cool to have an OS on the External. So I want to install the Windows 10 OS on this external HDD. But every time when I tried to install Windows 10 straight onto the external disk, I get an error message saying that windows cannot be installed on a USB drive or IEE 1394. I was just wondering that if it is possible to install Windows on an external hard drive. If so how can I get the Windows 10 OS installed? 

Have you ever imagined that to use your own Windows 10 OS wherever you go? As you might know, while one can install Windows on an external hard drive, one can’t install the same to an external hard drive with default settings. Actually, install Windows on an external hard drive is not an easy task for average users. At most times, Windows recognizes and displays the USB hard drive in the installation screen, it doesn’t allow you install Windows on the same. When you attempt to install Windows on an external drive, you get "Windows cannot be installed to this disk" error. But don’t worry! Here you can find the complete solution about how to install Windows 10 on an external hard drive.

Steps to install Windows 10 on an external hard drive

Step1. Download EaseUS Partition Master free to Format the external hard drive with NTFS and connect it to your computer. 

Warning: formatting partitions will erase all the data, please BACK UP the programs and files if necessary before formatting.

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 Windows 10 is supported

Right-click the hard drive partition and choose "Format partition" -> Choose NTFS from the file system drop-down list and click OK -> click Apply.

format an external hard drive to install Windows 10

Step 2. Click Start button and input "CMD" in the search box, and then click "cmd.exe" to launch the Windows PowerShell prompt. Once the Command prompt window pops up, input "diskpart".

Launch PowerShell Prompt to install Windows 10 on external hard drive

Step3. Input the command line "disk list" then press Enter button, after that all the drives of the host computer will be listed. As you can see in the following picture, Disk 1 is the destination external hard drive for WTG in this example.

Find destination disk to install Windows 10 on external hard drive

Step4. Enter the command lines in the picture below. This will clean the partition first, then a primary partition will be created. After that, the rest of the command lines will format the external hard drive and activate the partition on it. The last step is to assign the drive letter, here we choose E as the drive letter.

Enter command Lines to install Windows 10 on external hard drive

Step5. Open "Dism.exe" to extract the install.wim file from drive F and move it to E drive (the destination USB hard drive), please refer to the command line in the picture below.

Open Dism.exe to install Windows 10 on external hard drive

Step6. Enter the final command line ”bcdboot e:\\windows /s e: /f ALL” to ensure the USB hard drive bootable. Here ends the whole process.