Windows To Go Creator is, in my opinion, one of the gratest features of Windows 10 Enterprise (or the equivalent Education). It enables you to perform a full Windows install on an external USB 3.0 drive. Too slow? Absolutely not! USB 3.0 has a transfer speed of 5 Gbps, a very little difference compared to SATA III (6 Gbps). Plus, you may consider use of the newest USB 3.1, which enables 10 Gbps, therefore faster than SATA.
The Windows To Go drive can be unplugged from your PC and plugged into another one, and still will get working (this will require drivers installation on first startup on a new machine).
Here is a performance benchmark from my SSD 850 EVO, on a USB 3.0 port, while OS running from it.
While installing Windows To Go, I encoutered some major problems, and decided to write a little walkthrough.
Warning: installing Windows To Go requires your PC to have an Enterprise or Education licence, and you to download a Windows Enterprise install image.
First, my equipment: the base PC is an Asus desktop tower, whose case I could not open due to warranty restrictions. It had Windows 10 Home on it. A Windows 10 Education product key. A Samsung SSD 850 EVO, 250 GB. A Sharkoon Quickstore Portable USB 3.1 case for the SSD.
- If you don’t have Enterprise or Education license on your PC, get a product key (buying it or from dreamspark) and upgrade your current installation [Settings -> Update & Security -> Activation -> Change product key].
- Put the SSD inside the case and plug it in your PC.
- Format your SSD drive with a single NTFS partition. If you had another OS installed on it, remember to delete any boot, swap or restore hidden partition.
- There are two types of Partition Tables. GPT and MBR. Windows To Go only supports MBR, but most SSD drives come with factory GPT. I used this tool to convert my partition table from GPT to MBR, use what you like, but do it.
- Go to Control Panel -> Windows To Go and select your drive (you should see it by now). Follow the procedure.
- When it will ask you for a Windows Enterprise image, you need a Windows Enterprise image (preferably x64). Windows Education image should be ok, but it does not work due to a bug in the Windows To Go Creator. I called Microsoft support and they told me so, but still you have the right to do it with an Education licence.
- When installation finishes, select “Yes” to automatically boot from SSD when it is plugged in.
Notice that the new Windows copy will be a 30-days trial of Windows 10 Enterprise, you’ll need to activate it for further use.