By Dervish / Last Updated February 9, 2022

Why install Windows 10 on external hard drive?

“Is it possible to install Windows OS to plug and play storage device such as external hard drives, HDD enclosures (with SATA hard drives), USB flash drives and the likes? I'm asking this because I'm planning to create a portable OS. When I'm at my house, when I go to my grandmother's, or to a friend's place: I just simple plug that portable storage device, change the boot priority, and turn on the system and viola! I will only see one environment every time.”

Is it possible to create a portable operating system and realize the BYOD (bring your own device) anywhere? The answer is Yes. Microsoft released a feature called Windows To Go in Enterprise edition of Windows 8/8.1/10, which allows its users to boot their OSes from a certified USB flash drive on any computer.

Nevertheless, this feature only applies to the ENTERPRIZE edition. If you are running Windows 10 pro or home, you will not benefit from this feature. If you still want to install Windows 10 on external USB hard drive and wouldn’t like to purchase the enterprise edition, you can try command line installation. Command line operation costs much more time, and it is a little bit complex for most users because it contains more details during the installing process.

However, you can try another easy and fast method to run Windows 10 from USB flash drive or SSD. Using Windows To Go Creator embedded in freeware, AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard, released by AOMEI Tech. This function enables you to create a bootable USB drive with Windows 10 ISO file.

Before you do

You need to prepare an SSD or USB flash drive with the size of 13 GB or of larger capability. Meantime, an ISO file, installation disc or ESD file of Windows 10 is required.


  • Windows To Go Creator could create the bootable drive in any OS as long as you have prepared above stuff.

  • Technically, the bigger USB you hold, the better result you will get. If you use a USB 3.0 as the boot Windows USB in a computer with USB 3.0 port, you probably complete this task in a shorter time than using USB 2.0 drive.

  • If you have a Windows 10 or Windows 8 ISO/ESD installation file, please extract it to a proper place with WinRAR or WinZIP, or mount it as virtual drive by using third-party ISO mounting or burning software such as DAEMON Tools Lite.

  • The external hard drive will be overwritten and formatted to NTFS file system, backup hard drive first if necessary.

How to install Windows 10 to USB external hard drive?

In the first place, download AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard. Then connect the external hard drive with your PC, and make sure it has been detected by Windows.

Step1. Install and launch Partition Assistant. Select "All Tools" >"Windows To Go Creator" in the left side.

Windows To Go Creator

Step 2. Check "Create Windows To Go with system disc/ISO". And click "Next".

With System Disc

Step 3. Select USB and click "Browse" to choose ISO file.

Select Usb Drive And Iso File

Step3. Click "Proceed" and wait for the process to be finished.


Note: When you try to boot Windows 10 on other computers, you need to first enter the BIOS and select the bootable USB as the first boot device.

Only in three steps, you can install Windows 10 on external hard drive with no complicated operations and payment. Likewise, AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard also supports Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 ISO to USB, which means you can create bootable drive of them. Other than the feature mentioned in this tutorial, this program provides many basic disk/partition operations. Such as Migrate OS to SSD, Split Partition, Merger Partitions, Quick Partition etc.

Make bootable USB on Windows 10 via Diskpart

Some users would like to make bootable USB drive using Windows 10 built-in tools. Fortunately, Windows DiskPart is a good utility to complete this task. Following part will illustrate how to create Windows 10 bootable USB drive, and the ISO file, installation disc or ESD file of Windows 10 is necessary all the same.

Step 1: insert the USB flash drive into a running Windows computer. Press Windows+R to open Run and then type diskpart in the Command Prompt.

Run Diskpart

Step 2: type below syntaxes in order and each command is with followed by pressing Enter.

  • list disk
  • select disk n (n is the number of the external USB drive)
  • clean
  • create partition primary

list disk

  • list partition
  • select partition 1
  • assign letter=P
  • select partition P
  • format fs=ntfs quick
  • active
  • exit

list partition

Step 3: save the prepared custom image to the root of the USB flash drive.

Tips: you can change boot priority in BIOS to see if you can boot Windows 10 from USB stick.


No matter which method you are fond of, the final task is to install Windows 10 on external hard drive and boot up successfully. By the way, if you’re IT experts, company administrators or super computer enthusiasts, you may want to try AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional edition. This version comes with more advanced functions such as allocate free space from one partition to another directly, move OS from GPT disk to a GPT/MBR SSD or disk, convert dynamic disk to basic and manage dynamic disks and volumes etc.

For company administrators, the AOMEI Partition Assistant Unlimited edition allows you to install it on unlimited computers within one company. That is to say, all of your colleagues can have this software installed with only one purchase. Great deal, isn’t it?