How to Run “Windows 10” From a USB Drive

Yes, you load and install Windows 10 from a USB drive, a handy option when you are using a computer saddled with an older version of Windows.

Perhaps you are using a computer that is not your own and you miss Windows 10.  You can do seven steps: create a USB drive that runs Windows 10 directly.

You will need a USB drive or external hard drive with 16GB of free space, but preferably 32GB. You can then use a special utility called “Win-To-USB” to set up the USB drive with Windows 10. Once you are done, you will be able to boot the drive to launch Windows 10.

Microsoft offers a tool called Windows to go, which can create a bootable Windows USB drive. But that program works only with the Enterprise version of Windows 10 and requires a certified Windows so go drive. With Win-To-USB, you can create the bootable drive from any version of the operating system and on any type of USB drive. The one disadvantage is that Windows 10 runs much more slowly off a USB flash drive than it does off your hard drive. But in a pinch, you can at-least work with the OS and access different applications this way.

Windows 10 running from a USB Drive

Sign into an existing Windows 10 PC to create a Windows 10 “ISO” file that will be used to clone Windows 10 onto the USB drive. To do this, download Microsoft’s Media Creation Tool from the Download Windows 10 website. Double-click the downloaded Media Creation Tool .exe file.

At the first screen for “Applicable notices and license terms,” click on access button. At the “What do you want to do?” screen, click on the option to “Create installation media for another Computer.” Click next at “Select language, architecture, and edition” screen, confirm that all of the options are correct and then CLICK NEXT.

At the “Select which media to use” screen, click on the option for ISO file. Click Next.

Select a location on your hard drive to store the Windows.iso file. Click Save. Windows 10 now generates the necessary ISO file. When the process is done, click on Finish. Now at this time insert your USB drive. Download and install the Win-To-USB software from its dedicated website. You can use free version to get started and then decide if you want to upgrade to the $29.95 Professional version to gain access to more features and use the commercially.

Launch Win-To-USB from its Start menu item shortcut. At the introductory screen, click on the button to the right of the Image File field and select the Windows.ISO file that you created. Then select the version of Windows 10 that you wish to clone onto the USB drive. CLICK NEXT.

At the next display, click on the drop-down arrow next to the field to “Please select the destination disk” and select your USB drive. A message pop-up asking selects a partition scheme. Click on the option for “MBR for BIOS” and then click YES.

At the next screen, click on the option for Legacy to select the Installation mode. CLICK NEXT. Now Windows 10 USB drive will now be created.

When the installation process reaches 100%, indicating that it is finished, close the Win-To-USB program and remove the USB drive from your PC.

When you want to launch Windows 10 on a different computers, insert your USB drive into that PC, turn it on, and hit call the boot menu. How you do that depends on which PC you are using; sometimes it is F8 or Shift/F8, other times it is F12. Once you do that, select the option to boot  off the USB drive. Sign into Windows 10.

The 1st time you use your Windows 10 drive on a different computer, you will need to establish the necessary WiFi passwords and other settings. You will also need to activate Windows 10 each time you use the USB drive on a different PC, so it is best you log in with your Microsoft account, which is linked to your digital license. You can then install applications on the Windows 10 USB stick and access any files or documents stored online, so the experience comes close to working on one of your own Windows 10 PCs.

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