Windows To Go has been around for years and serves as a portable Windows desktop environment that can run an instance of Windows from an external USB, portable hard drive or SSD. In other words, you can plug a Windows To Go USB drive into any PC and boot Windows from it. This should come in handy as you can continue your work even when your primary PC crashes or breaks.
The Stock Windows To Go Creator in Windows 10
Windows To Go is a new feature available in Windows 10 Enterprise and Education for creating a portable version of Windows instance. This allow the users directly running Windows from USB-connected drive without building a new machine.
To create a Windows To Go USB drive with stock option, you should first have a computer running Windows 10 Enterprise or Education. Then, purchase a Windows To Go certified USB drive such as Spyrus Portable Workplace, Super Talent Express RC8.
Next, Download a copy of Windows 10 Enterprise or Education.
Now, launch Windows To Go Creator app on Windows 10 and follow the prompt to create an instance of Windows 10 To Go USB drive.
Simply put, you have to meet the following requirements to create a Windows 10 to Go USB drive with the built-in feature:
- A Computer running Windows 10 Enterprise or Education.
- Windows To Go Certified USB drive.
- ISO file of Windows 10 Enterprise or Eduction.
Though the stock Windows To Go Creator is completely free, it is really hard to create a Windows To Go USB in this way. The requirements are tough to get.
Fortunately, there are several other workarounds for creating Windows To Go USB from any version of Windows 10 without damaging your data. That’s what this guide is all about.
Rufus: Free Windows To Go Creator
Rufus has long been a reliable tool for creating Windows To Go USB drive. The tool is completely free (no subscription required). It supports Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10. However, it lacks a support for Windows XP. If you are still running Windows XP, you are out of luck.
Before we begin, make sure you now have a USB drive by your side. Your USB drive has at least 16GB, but we recommend you use a USB with 32GB of storage space.
Assuming that you have met the above requirements, let’s proceed with our step-by-step guide.
Step 1: Once you have downloaded Rufus onto your machine (make sure you download the normal version of Rufus instead of the portable version).
Step 2: Insert USB drive into your computer and backup all data from the drive to a safe location. (Your drive will be formatted during the process, so it’s a good idea to back up everything that’s important on your drive).
Step 3: Open Rufus on your PC and select USB drive from your drop-down menu. After that, select your preferred partition scheme from the list of options.
Note: If you want to use the Windows To Go drive with the MBR partition scheme, then go for the MBR partition scheme for BIOS or UEFI computer.
Step 4: Now, select the File System as NTFS and then hit the Browse icon next to the Create a bootable disk to locate your Windows ISO file.
Step 5: From here, select the Windows To Go option and then hit the Start button. If you see a warning message, hit the Yes button.
Step 6: The software will pop up a warning that says “Your USB drive will be erased”. From here, hit the OK button to begin installing Windows. Once you are done, the tool will start creating Windows 10 To Go drive (the process takes over 90 minutes so be patient).
Windows To Go feature is still in old version of Rufus app. However, it is deprecated in recent versions as Windows To Go is discontinued by Microsoft. Also, Rufus Windows To Go Creator is not working sometimes (such as Error at extract ISO). Don’t worry! Move ahead and try other Windows To Go Creator software in the following sections.
UUByte WintoUSB Pro: Premium yet Reliable Windows To Go Creator
You won’t get quick support from the developers of free apps. If you were using free apps and had issue, then you are out of luck at most times. However, this is not the case of premium software.
UUByte WintoUSB Pro is a reliable third-party tool that allows you to create Windows To Go USB with less errors. In addition, there is no harsh requirement for creating a working Windows To Go USB drive. You can use any type of USB drive or Windows ISO image. However, USB 3.0 drive is more recommended because of its faster reading and writing speed.
[Update]: You can now create a Windows To Go USB drive to be used on a Mac.
What sets UUByte from Rufus is that it’s fast, mostly thanks to its optimized data writing engine. The tool also offers a 24/7 support that can respond to all of your questions in caring and helpful manner.
Step 1: Insert USB 3.0 or above drive into a Windows machine and then back up data on it
Step 2: From the main interface, select For Windows Devices and proceed with hitting the Next button. You can also create a Windows To Go USB for Mac computer.
Step 3: Check the box next to From Windows Image File, and hit the folder button to locate Windows 10 image file. After that, select a Windows 10 version from the drop-down list.
Step 4: Select USB drive name from the list and then hit the Next button.
Step 5: From the Advanced Setting Options, go for the default options and hit the Start button (the process takes 5–10 minutes to complete).
Using UUByte WintoUSB Pro is more flexible. Unlike the above two options, there is literally no limitation for USB drive and ISO image. And it is much faster for the entire process because of optimized ISO writing speed.
AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard: Free but More-Error Windows To Go Creator
AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard is a free software that helps you with hard disk partition management and supports all Windows versions. The software features a built-in Windows To Go Creator that allows you to create a Windows environment on an external hard drive, so you can boot from it. The best part is that you don’t need to be running Windows Enterprise or Education to create Windows 10 To Go USB. Here are the steps:
The software now offers both free and paid versions. The free software lacks some important features, including the ability to manage your disk partition. If you only want to create a Windows To Go USB, then we recommend you go for the free version.
Step 1: Plug your USB drive into your computer, then download and install the software on your machine
Step 2: Once your USB drive is detected within the app, select Windows To Go Creator from the left side bar.
Step 3: From the pop-up, hit the Browse button to select your Windows 10 installation file and hit OK.
Step 4: Hit the Proceed button, then you will be prompted to format the drive, and the process should begin.
Step 5: Once it is done, unplug your drive and plug it into a different PC.
AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard is a great tool for creating Windows To Go USB drive. There are many errors when using the free trial version. However, the premium version ($49) is fast, reliable, and supports all Windows versions.
Hasleo WinToUSB: Another Popular Windows To Go Creator
WinToUSB is one of the leading software for creating Windows To Go USB drive, which should come in handy for those who want to install and run fully-functional Windows on an external drive. What sets it apart from Rufus is that it supports Windows XP.
There is a free version of WinToUSB which lacks some important features, including the ability to clone existing Window OS to Thunderbolt drive. However, if creating Windows To Go is all that matters, then you can go for the free version. Here are the steps:
Step 1: First off, plug your USB drive into your machine and then run WinToUSB
Step 2: Now insert the Windows installation CD/DVD into your system and then select your DVD from the list in WinToUSB.
Step 3: WinToUSB will scan and show you all the operating systems that can installable on your machine. Select the version you want and then hit Next.
Step 4: From the “Please select the destination disk” section, select your USB drive (you will be prompted to format your disk.
Step 5: Select the partition scheme and hit Yes to proceed. From here, select the system partition and boot partition, then hit Next.
Step 6: Once it is done, follow the on-screen instructions to finish.
After days of research, we found out only a small portion of software that are available to create a portable version of Windows 10. And the success rate varies from software to software. UUByte and Rufus are more recommended for this purpose. They are easy to use and have a higher success rate.