Installing Windows on portable media


Jan 9, 2015
In the beginning of the year, my laptop stopped booting up. I handed it to different technicians and they all came to the conclusion, that the built in harddrive controller was probably broken, as it would only show a black screen, as soon as it needed anything from the harddrive.. Today i dug it up again, to see if i could come up with an alternative solution, as i really need it for a few months, until i can afford a new proper laptop.
So i thought, why not install Windows 10 on a portable media device? I know how to do it, but i just want to know, would I get the best performance from a Class 10 SD Card, or an USB 3.0 drive? I know it not supposed to work like that, but its only temporarily.

Thank you.

Phillip Corcoran

I don't think Windows Setup will allow you to choose external/removable media as destination for Windows install.

You need to replace your laptop's internal hard drive if that's been diagnosed as failed (the controller is inside the hard drive so replacing the hard drive also replaces the controller).


Jan 9, 2015

But it's not the harddrive, i have tried multiple harddrives and OS's, but it wont work. It's the harddrive controller in the motherboard.
And Windows Setup wont allow you to do that no, but there are ways



Yes, there are 'ways'.
But it will be slow. Even slower if you try to use the SD card.


USB based SSDs can be used as an OS drive, I believe.

Also, does it have to be Windows?

There are also 'non-removeable' versions of flash cards. We used to use them all the time in embedded systems. Not particularly fast, but they were shock proof before SSDs were reasonable. (I think we were getting 4GB mil-spec SSDs for around $3000 at the time. We kept telling them that -40C wasn't going to happen often, they insisted though)



Typically the hard drive controller, disk controller, SATA controller, even RAID controller are used interchangeably to mean the integrated chipset providing the sata ports.

Yes, the board on a hard drive has a disk controller on it, but if that were the problem, a new drive would be the solution, and that isn't the case here.



Available only with an Enterprise license.
Windows To Go


Nov 11, 2013
ya maybe so ? I just recalled they did offer something at one time that may of worked ??

if you need a OS Linux is easy to boot from a live dvd simple as pie download iso and burn it and boot it

You can download the Linux Mint operating system for free. It comes as an ISO file
which you need to burn to a blank DVD. The liveDVD is then bootable and provides a
fully-functional operating system which you can try without affecting your PC. In
layman's terms, when you put Linux Mint on a DVD and place it into your computer, you
can try it out while leaving your current system intact.

its not windows but free and freedom to use bootable live dvd is about as portable as it gets


Someone always figures it out. I've played with it at work, oddly with a Mac, and it was quite good with an off the shelf USB3.0 SSD.

I know they try to differentiate the market, but honestly, they might sell more copies of Windows if you could just carry the OS around.

I bought the Lenovo version of the Intel computer sticks to play around with, aside from needing HDMI and external power, it is pretty handy. Can't wait for TVs to adopt USB3.1 as a standard and have a self contained version.
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