Monday 27 July 2015

Quickly install Windows 7\8\10 To Go onto an Easy2Boot USB drive using WinToUSB

The free version of WinToUSB can quickly install a full version of Windows from a Windows Install ISO onto a USB drive. We can use it to make a Win7ToGo .imgPTN or .VHD file on our E2B USB drive (or Win8 or Win10). You can have as many different WindowsToGo files on your E2B USB drive as you like!

Here are the steps, in outline, for an MBR-bootable version of Win7ToGo (but also works for Win8 and 10).

You can use VBox+VMUB instead of a real system for booting Windows, if you prefer.

WinToUSB will work with Win7/8/10. However, if you are booting Win8.1 or pre-1709 Win10 from a Removable USB flash drive, you must use the .VHD method described below (otherwise you just get an 'everlasting spinning circle of dots'!).

Also note that unless you are using a Volume Licence version of Windows (such as Enterprise), if you activate any 'retail/OEM' WindowsToGo OS using a new Product Key, that version of WindowsToGo will only be licensed on that same computer. If you want a truly 'portable' version of WinToGo that will work on any system, you need to use a Volume Licensed version (e.g. Enterprise) and a valid MAK or KMS Product Key.

You will require a fast USB 3 drive with at least 1MB/s 4K random rd/wr  I/O speeds (e.g. USB HDD, SanDisk Extreme Pro or Corsair GTX).

Below are TWO ALTERNATIVE METHODS - one uses a .imgPTN file and the other a .VHD file.

Method 2 is the best because the VHD file can be copied to any E2B USB drive without problems.
If using Method 1, you may find that you need to 'fix' the BCD inside the image if you move the .imgPTN file to another drive.

WARNING: An E2B USB Fixed disk (USB HDD) should be used to make the initial bootable drive - a Removable USB Flash drive will be reformatted by WinToUSB!

METHOD 1 - WinToGo as .imgPTN file

1. Use the MPI_NTFS Desktop shortcut to create a 20GB (or whatever size you like) .imgPTN file

              \_ISO\MAINMENU\Win7ToGo.imgPTN                 (12GB+ NTFS)

This can easily be done by dragging an empty folder onto the MPI_NTFS shortcut and specifying a filename and size.

2. Boot to E2B, select the .imgPTN file - switch to the CSM menu and shutdown.

3. Connect the E2B USB drive to your Windows system again (check that the E2B USB drive now contains a single 20GB partition).

4. Run WinToUSB and choose your Win7 install ISO and select the E2B drive partition as the 'boot' and 'system' partitions and proceed with the install.

Note: You may need to delete the \bootmgr file and \boot folder and \WinToUSB.vhd file before WinToUSB will allow you to continue.

5. Quit WinToUSB and boot from the E2B USB drive - it should boot immediately to Windows 7 and start the final OOBE stage of Setup..

6. IMPORTANT! Complete Setup (there may be a few reboots). The BCD will be updated - if it cannot be found you will get an error at the end of Setup.

7. We now need to install grub4dos to the MBR again (it was removed by WinToUSB and Windows Setup) so that the E2B drive boots to the CSM menu again.

To do this, run RMPrepUSB - Install grub4dos - Yes=MBR  (do not update the \grldr file when prompted).

The E2B USB drive should now boot to the CSM menu and you can run Windows 7 or return to the Main E2B menu as usual.

Note: if you move or copy the .imgPTN file, you will need to use BootIce or bcdboot to correct the BCD entries. This is because Disk Signature is changed when you use a .imgPTN file, it is always set to the start address of the .imgPTN file.

METHOD 2 - Win7ToGo as VHD (Win8/10 also)

Windows 7 Ultimate and Enterprise (but not other editions of Win7) allow you to boot from a VHD.

Note (Win8/10): If the system that you boot from was previously activated for Windows 10, then Win10ToGo will be automatically activated when you boot to it (as long as the Home/Pro edition matches what was previously installed).

1. Make sure the E2B USB drive is in the normal E2B Menu mode (not CSM Menu mode). An NTFS E2B USB HDD drive will be required (otherwise WinToUSB will want to reformat the E2B USB drive!).

If you wish, you can use a spare NTFS USB drive instead (USB Flash or USB HDD) and copy the VHD to your E2B drive later - Choose the 'MBR for BIOS' WinToUSB format option.

2. Run WinToUSB, select a Win7 Ultimate or Enterprise (or Win8/10) ISO and then specify a VHD + size (e.g. 20GB)

3. When WinToUSB has completed, boot from the USB drive - it should boot to Windows Setup immediately.

4. Complete the final OOBE Setup Stage as normal. This is IMPORTANT! You must boot to the Windows To Go Desktop and fully install it. The BCD will be updated - if it cannot be found you will get an error at the end of Setup.

Now shutdown Windows.

If you used a separate USB drive instead of the E2B USB drive, then at this point, you can now copy the VHD file to your E2B USB drive.

If you used an E2B USB drive, continue as below:

5. Now re-install grub4dos to the MBR and PBR again to the E2B USB drive.

RMPrepUSB - Install grub4dos - Yes=MBR   (do not update \grldr)

RMPrepUSB - Install grub4dos - No=PBR      (do not update \grldr)

6. Move the \WinToUSB.VHD file that was made by WinToUSB to the \_ISO\MAINMENU folder (or any menu folder) and rename it as required - e.g. Win7ToGo.VHD

Now tidy up- Delete the \boot folder from the E2B USB drive - E2B can boot directly from VHD and WIM files.

Make sure the file is contiguous and do not change the file extension (it must be .VHD).

You should now be able to boot directly from the .VHD file listed in the MAIN menu (or other menu folder). You can repeat this process to add more Win 8 and Win10 VHDs.

Note: The file bootmgr should be copied to the \_ISO\e2b\grub\DPMS\NTBOOT.MOD folder on the Easy2Boot USB drive. Do not use the Windows 10 version of bootmgr (10-07-2015 395268 bytes) as this gives a BSOD 0xc00000bb error - use a Win8 version (can be found in a Win8 ISO)! E2B v1.81+ will check for the correct version - use latest E2B if you are having BSOD issues. See here for details. Later versions of E2B will automatically download the correct version of bootmgr when you make an E2B USB drive now.

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