Windows – How to run windows 7 from a USB thumb drive

usbusb-flash-drivewindows 7

I am building a very small atom-based computer and I want to use a high-end 16gb USB thumb drive as the only hard drive in it.

I am fully aware of the limitations caused by the thumb drive for both performance and durability (of the drive itself), but that's besides the point and outside of the scope of this question.

I have tried many approaches. First, I tried to see if windows 7 would recognize the USB drive as an installation target, but unfortunately the drive is not shown in the setup screen as an option. I have also tried the "emulation" options offered in my MB's bios for USB drives but this setting has made no difference. This method yielded no results at all.

Having exhausted that option, I decided to attach a regular sata drive to the board, installed Windows on it and got it all running. Then I took the drive and attached it to another computer (as a slave drive) and using Acronis Disk Director Suite 10 I then made a clone of the partition where Windows was installed on the Sata drive onto the USB drive.. The USB drive partition ended up being primary and active. In theory I'd be able to boot off it.

However, when I boot off it on the small computer it goes into a screen saying the installation is corrupted and that it needs to be repaired.

I haven't tried repairing yet, but I wanted to ask if anybody had any experience doing something similar. I am ware of Bart PE for XP and running linux off USB drives, but Windows 7 seems to have extra requirements…

Any information would be very much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Best Answer

I don't want to say it's not possible, but It may be very difficult.

I remember watching a video on Channel9 about the challenges faced by the Windows Team getting Windows XP to install to flash based media.

There is also this post, which may help you a little. The post is rather old, so it may not or it may work.