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Installing an OS on an external harddrive.

I would like to run 2 OS (in case one fails ), but really don't want to install them both on the main drive, even different partitions (had some pain in the past Sad ). can I install an OS (preferably Vista) on an external USB hard drive??? will I be able to boot from it, lets say if my main OS fails.
many thanks.
th'at's depend on your lmmotherbord, in myn,

look on bios there were somewhere a option about your boot driver. or (like mine) I have a option with what can I boot first.

jsut try

DimaSafr wrote:
I would like to run 2 OS (in case one fails ), but really don't want to install them both on the main drive, even different partitions (had some pain in the past Sad ).

Let me tell You, what I have on my computer at the moment. On two harddrives I have 2 Windows98 (identical) and 3 Windows XP, without any difficulties. There is no need to put one system "far away". Both of my drives have a starting aktive primary partition. if I start from drive 0, it ist C: an d drive 1 ist D:. If I start from Drive 1, it ist C: and drive 0 is D. Starting with win98 makes the startdrive C:. Why do I have so many systems. Becaus I think the same that you do. I want allways a working system. At the moment I have 5. All thes five systems use the same common files, Temporary Internet Files, Cookies, Favorites, History, Program files and so on, that are all on drive E:. So the backup of drve C: or D: takes 2.5 minutes each with Norton Ghost. If I have any configuration prblems, I just play back the last backup. O.k. not allways, but in these cases where reconfiguring takes too long time. I use a toll to clean the registry files. (V-com Fix-it) Without such tools it is nearly impossible to move system files to other folders. You can install from C: another Windows XP to another partition without difficulties. My third XP i put to drive G:, because i wanted one system without the Service pack 2, to play easily websites that I have grabbed to my harddrives. No problem at all. I can freely make all these experiments, besause I would have my Ghost backups, to play everything back from before in nearly two minute. Powerquest Drive Image makes the same job, but not as quick.
In order to boot from a usb device, you need the motherboard support for it. If you don't have that support you can just install the HD internaly, and swich the boot order between hd0 and hd1.
No matter what anyone tells you DO NOT try to update your BIOS, you can kill your motherboard that way.
Coll thanks guays, another question. can I install an OS (lets say XP or 2000) on a 2 gig flash drive? It would be sort of cool to have an OS that you carry with you just in case and can boot your computer with.
Any Ideas?
Many thanks.
You can install anything anywhere. The only problem is that your motherboard should support USB boot.

And you can't just install windows xp on a thumbdrive and expect to use it on any random computer whenever you want. Windows requires reactivation when hardware changes (drifting off-topic Smile )
I doesn't work: I've tried it out! you can't even install Windows on an external USB-Drive, because there's an error.

You CAN install an OS on a Flash Drive but then you have to use a special adapter which makes flash->IDE!
usb drive windows - HUGE PROBLEMS!
the host pc has to hav mobo with usb booting capabilities, then assuming u hav 2 change bios, the password to that
when u install the os it opnly loads driver to the machine u installed it with, chaging pc will wreck the registry and all drivers and setting
2 gigs is a bit small fro an os -

even 2000, wivout patches is abt 800mbs, add on say mayabe a email client, word processor, broswerr, media player, make than 1.3gigs, update with latest patches, 1.9 gigs+
Short Question:
Are there Flash cards with more than 2 Gigs??
yeah ive seen something like this done before. my friend installed linux on one of his harddrives then on his other one he has windows xp. but the problem with that is when we want to game he has certain games one or the other OS's and he has to reboot into one or the other xD

x-stream wrote:
Short Question:
Are there Flash cards with more than 2 Gigs??
Yes there are infact this site has 16 gig ones :> but flash cards from what i hear are alot slower than a cd rom drive so.....
Actually, flash drives are MUCH faster than cd rom drives. High speed flash drives when plugged into a USB 2.0 port can transfer up to 480Mb/sec, while a 52x cd rom drive usually transfers around 63 Mb/sec
Stubru Freak
If you want an OS to carry around everywhere, get a Linux live cd.
If you also want to store data, carry around a usb drive with your data too.
You can't install windows on a USB flash drive even if your motherboard supports USB boot.

However you can use a linux live CD.

Abhinav Shah
I have recently purchased a HP Laptop having a Windows XP home , i cann't install IIS on that.So i have purchased a USB drive to install Windows XP pro on that.Whats advicable , 2 OS on laptop or Amend the Registry files on XP Home or install OS on Flash drive.
Actually it is possible to install IIS on XP Home, but you require the original OS Disc of XP Home as well as one for XP Professional. All you have to do is copy a few files from the Pro disc to a directory on your pc, then expand them from one file type to another , place them in the right directory (which is a hidden system folder in the Windows directory), replace the Pro disc with the Home disc and then go into Add/Remove programs, select the option for Windows components and IIS will be there to install. Before you ask, XP Home disc has all the files needed to install IIS, it's just that Microsoft thought it would be fun to disallow certain 'privilages' for home users.
It is possible to install Windows on an external harddrive, but that depends on your bios. Another option would be to install grub as a bootloader and install some version of linux to the external hard drive. However, it is not windows so it may not be a suitable option for you. It just depends on what your bios and motherboard will allow you to do. If interested you could see if it is possible to install ReactOS (an open source windows xp successor) on an external drive. I do not see why this would not be an option, especially if you were willing to use grub. However ReactOS is still beta software so it may not work, well enough for you (MIleage may vary). Good luck.
It is possible to install Windows on pen drive. You can have a look at


However the "Live" version of the OS is available for almost every Linux distribution. The live version has almost all essential functionality of the main OS.

Alternatively you can install VMware and try different OS without installing them (actually installing them in virtual environment).
it depends on the os
windows 7 and logically windows 8 have this feature
in wikipedia it says you can even boot windows 7 from a usb stick
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