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How can I use an external USB hard drive a bootable Windows XP drive?

By trebyal ·
I encountered a question at work that goes like this... If my system can boot to the USB CD/DVD drive, can I install windows xp to an external hard drive and use it as the primary bootable device where my operating system is? I tried it at home with my laptop and my desktop but it shows me that the NTOSKRNL could be corrupted or missing. I tried it both Home and Professional editions, I just cannot make it work.

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better on internal

by dma69593 In reply to How can I use an external ...

No, it is better to have your OS on your hard drive. You can change the boot sequence in BIOS to make the hard drive boot first. The way it goes with boot sequencing is this:
if, say for eg, the boot sequence followed in this order, 1. CD 2. HDD 3. Floppy , then when the pc starts up, the computer will check if there is anything in the cd drive to boot from, if it finds none, it then goes and checks the hard drive, and so on, until it finds something. So if your boot sequence is set as the CD first and you haven't left a cd in, the pc will boot to XP.
The external hard drive that you have would be better used to store all your saved data, and because its portable, you'll be able to transfer data between pcs.

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The short answer is "no"

by Desktop Veteran In reply to How can I use an external ...

It is not possible to install any NT operating system on a removable drive and be able to boot from it.

The reason is that NT operating systems like XP look at the boot.ini file to find the operating system. The file looks something like this:

[boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /fastdetect

The point here is that the drive with the OS installed on it, is identified by a fixed disk number (0), and the partition on which it is located (1). Removable disks are not assigned fixed disk numbers because they are...removable, and therefore not constant. Without the disk and partition information, XP won't know where to find the system files.

If you think about it, USB keys, which we use for imaging systems, boot from DOS or something similar.

It's an interesting concept though.

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by trebyal In reply to The short answer is "no"

thank you for providing an insight to the problem I posted... somehow I wish such things are possible imagine having a terminal in any area where you could plug-in a drive and work on your settings it should surely ease up work on our end...

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Switch your OS or boot from flash

by kvo In reply to Thanks

Recently I faced this problem myself. Finally, I see only 2 ways to have approximate functionality:

1. Install Knoppix system on external USB drive, boot from this drive and do the rest of maintanance task from Knoppix. It has rather good features, even for Windows.

2. Reserve external USB drive for data only. In this case, I can boot Knoppix or Windows (Bart or UltraBoot are good) from USB flash drive and take the rest of files from external USB drive.

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by rahouseholder In reply to How can I use an external ...

Take a look at this article...

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