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How to Install Windows 10 on External Hard Drive

Updated on Dec 05, 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 whenever 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. 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 to 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 partition

Step 2. Click the "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

Step 3. Input the command line disk list then press the 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

Step 4. 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

Step 5. 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

Step 6. Enter the final command line bcdboot e:\\windows /s e: /f ALL to ensure the USB hard drive bootable. Here ends the whole process.