Install and boot Windows 10 / 11 on USB external disk

When developing software for PCs, multiple versions of an OS are needed for testing. In such cases, there is a way to install the OS on a virtual PC using VMware Workstation or other software. However, programs that use the GPU directly may require a physical machine. This article explains how to install Windows 10 or Windows 11 on an external disk.

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Installing Rufus

To install Windows 10 or Windows 11 on a USB external disk in a bootable state, you can use an app called Rufus, available at the following site.

Rufus is OSS and licensed under the GPL. The code is available on GitHub.

The version used at the time of this writing is 3.2.1. After downloading, save it in a directory of your choice to complete the installation.

Installing Windows

Install Windows using Rufus. Connect the external disk where you wish to install Windows. Next, download the Windows ISO image. In my case, I used the ISO image provided with my Visual Studio subscription because I use it for software development and debugging.

Launch Rufus and follow the steps below to install.

STEP
Turn on “List USB Hard Drives”.
STEP
From “Device,” select the disk to install to.
STEP
Click the “SELECT” button and choose the ISO image of OS.
STEP
Enter the desired name for the destination disk in the “Volume label” field.
STEP
From “Image option”, select “Windows To Go”.
STEP
Click the “START” button.
State after setting
State after setting
STEP
インストールするWindowsの種類を選択します。
Select the version of windows to install
Select the version of windows to install
STEP
With “Prevent Windows To Go from accessing internal disks” turned on, click the “OK” button.
インストール時のオプションを選択する
Select options for installation
STEP
A confirmation message regarding the destination format will be displayed. Click “OK” to proceed.
Confirmation of format execution
フォーマットの実行確認
STEP
Installation will start. When “READY” is displayed, the installation is completed.
After installation is completed
After installation is completed

Boot from an external disk

To boot from an OS installed on an external disk, adjust the BIOS or UEFI settings to give boot priority to the external disk over the internal one. Changing this setting depends on your machine, so please refer to the machine’s documentation.

Besides the boot disk priority, some machines also allow changing the priority of the UEFI boot manager. If your machine has this capability, adjust the boot manager’s priority to favor the external disk.

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Akira Hayashi (林 晃)のアバター Akira Hayashi (林 晃) Representative(代表), Software Engineer(ソフトウェアエンジニア)

アールケー開発代表。Appleプラットフォーム向けの開発を専門としているソフトウェアエンジニア。ソフトウェアの受託開発、技術書執筆、技術指導・セミナー講師。note, Medium, LinkedIn
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Representative of RK Kaihatsu. Software Engineer Specializing in Development for the Apple Platform. Specializing in contract software development, technical writing, and serving as a tech workshop lecturer. note, Medium, LinkedIn

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