How To Clone Existing Windows Installation To USB and Make It Bootable

By now, you probably know what is Windows To Go drive and how to create one in Windows 8/8.1. For those who are on Windows 7 and also for those users who are not aware of Windows To Go, it’s a feature introduced with Windows 8 to install Windows on USB drives and carry the OS on USB drives.

The Windows To Go feature is present in only in the Enterprise edition. Although there are some workarounds to create Windows To Go drive on all editions, a couple of free tools are out there to install any edition of Windows on USB drives.

About a year ago, we first talked about WinToUSB. Several weblogs have reviewed this tool since then. In addition to Windows 10 and Windows 8.1, WinToUSB is also compatible with Windows 7. That is, in simple words, you can install Windows 7 on USB drives with ease.

 

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Recently, the developer has released WinToUSB 2.0. The newest version of WinToUSB is capable of cloning your existing Windows installation to a USB drive and then make it bootable. In other words, you can transfer your current Windows 7/8/10 installations to a USB drive to use it as portable.

This feature is a boon for many users who don’t wish to perform a fresh install of Windows on USB drives just to create a Windows To Go drive. The feature is very helpful as we neither need to install our favorite third-party software nor change Windows settings post the creation of Windows To Go drive.

Creating a Windows To Go drive using WinToUSB is fairly simple. You just need to browse to your Windows ISO file and then select your USB drive to begin creating the Windows To Go drive.

Clone current Windows installation to USB and make the USB bootable

Complete the given below instructions to clone your existing Windows 10 (any other version of Windows) installation to a USB drive and then make the drive bootable.

Step 1: Connect your USB drive and backup all data to a safe location.

Step 2: Visit this page of WinToUSB, and download the latest available version of the software. The download size is under 4MB.

Step 3: Run the downloaded WinToUSB executable and follow on-screen instructions to get it installed.

Step 4: Run the tool as administrator, click the third icon (Physical to USB) in the left-pane to see the following screen.

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Step 5: Click Next button to see a pop-up with “Need to build a WinPE image, this may take several minutes. Are you sure you want to continue?” message.

Click Yes button.

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Step 6: Once the WinPE image is ready, you’ll be asked to select the destination USB drive.

Here, you need to also select system partition as well as the boot partition of your existing Windows installation. The system partition is usually the small 100 or 200 MB partition. And boot partition is nothing but the partition containing your Windows 10 installation files, which is usually “C” drive.

Step 7: Finally, click Next button. Click Yes button when you’re asked to reboot your PC.

After rebooting your PC, the clone process will start and might take a few hours (depending on your boot partition size and system performance). That’s it!

Once your Windows To GO USB drive is ready, simply change the boot order in BIOS/UEFI to boot from USB to begin using the drive. Good luck!