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how to create a portable version on a USB hard drive

26 mayo, 2021

Some operating systems are specially designed to be installed on a removable disk so that you can take them with you and run from any computer, but this is not the case for Windows. Even so, that this is not one of your default options does not mean that you cannot do it.

There is a very simple way to create a portable version of Windows 10, and if you prefer it is equally valid for any previous version of the Microsoft operating system. You will only need an external hard drive and a couple of downloads to get it, here is a small guide so you can do it regardless of your technical knowledge.

You have to be clear about creating a portable version of Windows 10 it is not the same as installing it from a USB. With the method that you will learn today, what you will have is a perfectly functional version of Windows, and to use it you will only have to connect the removable disk to a computer and start it from it. It will be as if you carry your computer with you.


Before you start you need these three things

Download Iso

In order to carry out this installation you need three fundamental things. The first one is the official Windows 10 ISO and a product key. You can download the ISO from the official Microsoft website, and it is valid for both the Home and Pro versions. Instead, you will have to buy the product key in the Microsoft store.

Second, you will need to download the WinToUSB program. It is a small piece of free software that It is used to carry out this entire process in just a few clicks. The basic version is free, although you also have at your disposal two faster paid versions, with support for the business versions of Windows 10 and with some more functions. In any case, for ordinary users, the free one is enough.

And thirdly you will need an external hard drive. I have tried to carry out the process with normal USB, but after WinToUSB told me that the performance would be affected I have found that 32 GB is not enough for the installation. An external hard drive with USB 2.0 can work, but I warn you that the speed at which the operating system works will also be much lower.

Therefore, the best thing is that you use an external USB connected by USB 3.0 to have a better experience, with enough capacity so that the operating system is loose and with enough transfer speed so that everything goes smoothly. In Compradicción they usually have offers from them, so take a look if you need one.

Creating the portable version of Windows 10


The first step you have to take is install WinToUSB application. Do it as if it were any other application and in the destination you want, but keep in mind that it will require administrator permissions to install, so if you have a guest or simple user session you will have to talk to the one with the administrator session.

When you run it, you will find its main menu, in which you will see a column with three options on the left. The first is that of create the portable version of Windows 10 using an ISO image, but with the others you can also create it from an original DVD of the operating system or simply clone your current Windows, the one you are using right now.

Choose So

The third option can therefore be equally valid if you already have Windows 10 activated on your computer. But since you have downloaded the ISO, and there is always the possibility that you are using another version of Windows, we will use the first option, which is basically the same with the third one but with a previous file selection step.

When you click on the option, a box will appear at the top of the tab that says Image file. Click on the folder icon to the right of its text box and select the ISO that you have downloaded. When you do, the program will automatically analyze it and show you the options to install.

For example, if you have downloaded the official ISO from the Microsoft page as we have indicated above, WinToUSB will give you the option to install the Home and Pro versions of Windows 10. The paid versions of the program would also let you install the professionals, but for now we are going to settle and choose the option for which we have the product key. Once you do, click on Next to continue.


You will come to a new menu where you can choose the external hard drive you want to install your new version of Windows 10. If you have more than one connected and you don’t know which one you want to install, try disconnecting it, go back to the previous menu and then to the one you were in to see which one is no longer on the list. Once you know it, connect it again, back and forth in the menus and choose it.

When you do, it may ask you to format it. Once you do, two options will appear in the window to choose where you want the boot and system partitions. In both cases choose the external hard drive.

If you have paid for a professional version at this point the application will allow you to create partitions as you wish on the hard drive where you are going to host the operating system. With the free version you will make predefined partitions, which will be sufficient for most cases. Once you choose where to put the partitions, click Next to start the process. You only have to wait a few minutes until it is completed and ready.

Now you just have to connect, configure and use


Once you have finished the process, you will have your external hard drive with Windows that you can use on any computer. To start the system from it you will only have to connect it to the tower, and when turning on the computer press the key that your BIOS has configured to choose the disk from which to start the system. This key may change depending on the computer.

Before you can use it normally you have to complete one more step, to configure the operating system as you have to do when you install Windows 10 on any other computer. Remember that if you want to maximize your privacy you have to customize the installation options and deactivate all the options.

Afterwards, there is always the possibility that you will have to spend a few more minutes to update the system and configure the drivers of your hardware. Then you will be ready to start, and you will only have to start downloading your favorite programs and fiddling with the Windows settings to make it your own.

This can take a while, but once you do, you will have a portable version of Windows 10 configured as you like to use it. The next time you need to use a friend or relative’s computer you will no longer have to deal with how you have your computer, the thousand applications installed in it or that prehistoric browser that goes on pedals, now you will carry your own Windows with you.

That does keep in mind one last thing. What you carry on the external hard drive is not a computer, but simply your Windows. This means that how it performs it will depend on the hardware of the computer in which you are going to use it. If it is an old computer, do not think that it will fly like the wind, and in any case it will always go slower than when you have it installed on your SSD.

Cover image | David pursehouse
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