Tuesday 7 May 2019

A Removable-type USB HDD enclosure (+ UEFI-booting from ISOs on a IODD\Zalman drive enclosure)

With the new addition of WIMBOOT to E2B, you now rarely need to use a 'Removable' type of USB drive for E2B.

However, in a few cases where WIMBOOT cannot be used (low RAM or incompatible ISO) then Easy2Boot works better from a 'Removable' type of USB drive (such as most USB flash drives) or if you also connect a small WinHelper USB flash drive to the target system as well as the E2B HDD drive.

A user recently contacted me via the online Chat feature on the E2B website and mentioned that his USB HDD enclosure appeared as a 'Removable' device. He was from Dubai and had purchased a cheap Haysenser USB 3.0 HDD enclosure from his local market.

Haysensor USB 3 enclosure
I do not have one of these so I cannot verify this, but I thought it might be worth blogging about it, in case anyone had a requirement for a large 'Removable-type' USB 3 drive.

If you have knowledge of this enclosure (I do not know the exact model number) or you have any other Removable-type HDD enclosure please let me know.

Zalman and IODD HDD Enclosures

Using an IODD drive as your E2B drive gives you the best of both worlds. You can use the IODD 'virtual drive' functions to MBR-boot or UEFI-boot directly from any ISO, or use E2B for more advanced features such as automated Windows installs from ISOs or .imgPTN files, LiveCD ISOs + persistence, E2B utilities, convenient menu system, password protection, run ISOs/IMA files from RAM, run .dmg, Puppy, HAIKU and BSD ISOs, install XP with DPMS drivers, boot from .WIM files, run a Windows ISO+WiNNTSetup, etc. etc.
If you have a Zalman/IODD HDD enclosure, you can create a large file on it which has a .RMD file extension and a &DW filename suffux - e.g. MyRemovableDisk&DW.RMD, then this file can be loaded and used as a large Removable rd/wr drive. You could then install E2B (or any software which required to be run from a Removable USB drive) onto the virtual drive.

IODD 2531 HDD Enclosure
E2B also contains a E2B_WinHelper_&DW.RMD file. This can be loaded into your IODD enclosure to mimic a small WinHelper 'Removable-type' flash drive - more details here. This allows you to use the IODD with E2B and not have to connect a WinHelper flash drive. Of course, you can also use the IODD to load ISO files and then directly UEFI-boot from them - this is often more convenient than using E2B and .imgPTN files. With the new naming feature of E2B, it is easy to keep the file extension as .ISO (e.g. DLC 2017_.isoHW.iso) so it can also be booted using E2B.

The IODD can also load .VHD files and emulate a USB HDD.

By creating .DSK (virtual disk), .VHD (virtual hard disk) or .RMD (virtual removable drive) files, you can also install full OS's onto the IODD and then select any one of them to boot from.

I recommend the IODD enclosure over the Zalman enclosure. Firmware support is better for the IODD and the build quality appears to be superior (but never transport it without first disconnecting the USB cable or else you could damage the PCB). Unless you really need the extra security of the IODD 2541, get the IODD 2531. The 2541 keypad buttons are rather unresponsive and a bit of a pain to use (but you can disable the PIN entry function of the 2541 if you wish).

I recommend fitting a cheap SSD for better robustness, faster 'start-up' time, lower power, faster random access speeds and lighter weight.

Disadvantages of the IODD are:
  • Portability (it is not very comfortable in your pocket or hung round your neck)
  • A USB cable is needed (I recommend a USB 3.0 Y-Cable because extra power is needed on some laptops)
  • USB port is prone to damage
  • 'menu system' is slightly more fiddly to use than E2B
  • Not as compatible on all systems (esp. if using a spinning HDD)
Advantages of the IODD are:
  • UEFI-booting is a lot easier than having to prepare .imgPTN files and switching to them.
  • Can appear as a USB-CD and so is more compatible than E2B if the OS is looking for a 'CD'.
  • Can boot from VHDs (fixed type), .IMA and .ISO files.
  • Can still use E2B with it.
  • You can fit other hard drives into the enclosure and use the old drive in something else.

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